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Posted 9/17/12 at 10:03 AM

Disputed Calls: Are alternate jerseys appealing or appalling?

For many years, baseball jerseys came in two colors and two colors only: wedding gown white at home and pre-rebirth Gandalf gray on the road. While every MLB team still has those options, 25 of 30 clubs now have at least one solid-color alternate. Are these extra jerseys fun, attractive and fashion-forward? Or are they a gimmicky affront to decades of tradition? We debate, you decide ...

White and gray is the only way, says Jeremy Moses

Why do we have alternate jerseys? Really, what’s the reason?

Did we demand a newer, flashier jersey because home and away uniforms weren't enough?

Here’s my biggest issue with alternate jerseys. For the most part, they aren't as nice as a team's regular apparel -- plain and simple. Want to know how I know that? Because if they were as nice, they would have been adopted as the principal jersey somewhere along the line.

Think about your favorite team’s jersey like your own shirt collection. When you have a full wardrobe, you tend to wear your best clothes first. You need to look sharp on Saturday night, so you wear your favorite top.

But what do you wear when you're running low on clothes and you’re too lazy to do a load of laundry? That’s right, you wear some ugly shirt from the back of your closet that your grandma bought for your birthday five years ago.

You don’t like that shirt. It makes you look fat. But you’d rather look fat and out of style than do laundry, so you wear it.

I’m not saying that players look fat and ugly when they wear alternate jerseys. What I am saying, though, is that everyone looks better when they're wearing their No. 1 wardrobe option instead of some novelty outfit. And don’t we want our favorite players dressing their best?

Taste the rainbow, says Dan Wohl

Are standard home and away jerseys not good enough for me? Do I demand newer, flashier jerseys, as Jeremy incredulously asks?

Yes. Yes I do.

White and gray are boring. Sticking to them all the time is the old IBM dress code of sports attire. We’ve lived through many decades of colorful arts and design, the human eye can perceive more than 10 million colors and modern textiles are up to the task. So why should baseball jerseys stick to one hueless color and its slightly darker cousin?

In the old days, teams wore white at home because that’s the color of most sheep hair and dye was expensive. Doing laundry wasn't always an option on the road, and gray or another dark color made dirt less noticeable. It was a practical choice that fit an older era -- not a stylistic decision then or now. There’s only one argument against colored alternates today, and my friend Tevye can explain it in one word.

Some tradition is fine. I’m not saying teams shouldn’t have whites and grays in their rotations. But 162 games is a lot to wear the same two things, and some periodic sartorial flair is a nice way to mix it up over the course of the long season.

Colored jerseys are fun, they look great and they let a team emphasize its identity even more. They’re not a gimmick – they’re just cooler.


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