Major League Baseball is ready to loosen things up. From Aug. 25-27, players will be encouraged to show off their personalities during Players Weekend. Both the league and the Players Association teamed up to create the event.
MLB unveiled new jerseys for the affair Wednesday, which are aimed at injecting some excitement to the game while also appealing to a younger audience.
The uniforms deviate a bit from tradition. They are vibrant and full of color. You aren’t getting the standard team script against a white or gray background in most cases. Instead, Majestic used bright blues, reds, teals and yellows. The jersey designs were inspired by youth league uniforms. Every team’s cap and jersey for Players Weekend can be seen at MLB.com.
Those jerseys will also contain a patch on the right sleeve where each player can write the name of a person or organization that helped them on their journey to the majors. We’re expecting to see plenty of parents and former coaches honored over the three days.
Game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off at MLB.com following the weekend. The league will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation.
Regular jerseys – ones not worn during games – are also expected to be available for purchase.
The jerseys aren’t the only things changing. New Era worked on some new caps, which fit in with the colorful theme.
Finally, these uniforms would fall flat with normal socks, which is why Stance jumped in to liven up the options.
The changes don’t stop there. Players will be allowed to have nicknames embroidered on the back of their jerseys. If David Ortiz were still active, there’s a good chance you would see “Big Papi” on a jersey during Players Weekend. Teams have not announced what players have picked nicknames just yet, but are expected to reveal that information on social media in the coming days.
Players will also be allowed to wear custom designed batting gloves, spikes, wrist bands, compression sleeves, catcher’s masks and bats. These have to stay within the rules, of course. For example, a pitcher can’t wear all white accessories to try and hide the ball.
We’re pretty interested to see how some players customize their equipment. We know Bryce Harper had a custom patriotic bat made for the Fourth of July last season, but didn’t use it in-game out of respect for MLB rules. We’re guessing he has something fun planned for this.
The league will also allow players to wear T-shirts highlighting a charity of their choice during pre-game workouts and in post-game interviews.
The league has already named some team ambassadors to promote the event. They include Anthony Rizzo, Francisco Lindor, Manny Machado, Jose Bautista and Nelson Cruz, among others. We all remember Cruz’s in-game photo with Joe West at the All-Star Game, so he should have some fun with this.
While Players Weekend doesn’t officially begin until Aug. 25, fans can get a sneak peak at what things will look like during the MLB Little League Classic. On Aug. 20, the teams representing the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals will show off the new uniforms during the Little League World Series.
That seems like the perfect place to debut the new duds, considering the whole idea behind them is to appeal to a younger audience. Players Weekend is also a way for MLB to market its players, which is something many have pined for as young talent has exploded in recent years. It’s the prime opportunity for some of those guys to show off their eccentricities.
We’re partial to a number of the new jerseys, many of which we’ve already shown above, but we think the Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays are among our favorites.
With the exception of the Rays, all of those take some inspiration from retro jerseys worn by those clubs over the years. You’ll notice the league took that approach in a few places, including the Pirates and Detroit Tigers caps. It’s a good way to drum up interest among all fans. The idea might be to appeal to a younger demographic, but the retro designs may also attract older fans.
If that’s the goal, then the league really succeeded with the San Diego Padres. While the brown isn’t back, the league found a way to split the team’s modern blue color with the yellow of the ’80s. It might have produced our favorite uniform of the bunch.
The league encouraged a lighter atmosphere in this year’s All Star Game – and in the World Baseball Classic – but this will be the first time it’s willing to move that experiment to the regular season. Not only that, but this will be an extended period of three days.
As of right now, the league is unsure whether Players Weekend will be an ongoing thing. It’s a possibility, but only if it’s met with a strong reaction.
The new uniforms and focus on allowing players to express themselves is a successful step in the that direction. Now, it’s up to the players to deliver on the hype.
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