I’ve wanted to blog about MLB uniform rules for a while, and the fining of Pablo Sandoval for wearing his All-Star Game gold and orange cleats during a recent game motivated me further. It seems that MLB is pretty strict about what you can and cannot wear, down to the color of your cleats! So let’s learn exactly what rules the boys have to abide by regarding their attire.
I first went to the official MLB rules and looked for the uniform guidelines. Here is what I found (copied from the official MLB rules available on the internet):
(a) (1) All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs. (2) Any part of an undershirt exposed to view shall be of a uniform solid color for all players on a team. Any player other than the pitcher may have numbers, letters, insignia attached to the sleeve of the undershirt. (3) No player whose uniform does not conform to that of his teammates shall be permitted to participate in a game.
(b) A league may provide that (1) each team shall wear a distinctive uniform at all times, or (2) that each team shall have two sets of uniforms, white for home games and a different color for road games.
(c) (1) Sleeve lengths may vary for individual players, but the sleeves of each individual player shall be approximately the same length. (2) No player shall wear ragged, frayed or slit sleeves.
(d) No player shall attach to his uniform tape or other material of a different color from his uniform.
(e) No part of the uniform shall include a pattern that imitates or suggests the shape of a baseball.
(f) Glass buttons and polished metal shall not be used on a uniform.
(g) No player shall attach anything to the heel or toe of his shoe other than the ordinary shoe plate or toe plate. Shoes with pointed spikes similar to golf or track shoes shall not be worn.
(h) No part of the uniform shall include patches or designs relating to commercial advertisements.
(i) A league may provide that the uniforms of its member teams include the names of its players on their backs. Any name other than the last name of the player must be approved by the League President. If adopted, all uniforms for a team must have the names of its players.
The Giants wear white uniforms when they are home and grey uniforms when they are away. The away uniform has their last name on the back, but the home uniforms have no name. I did some research on why they would do this and came up with a couple of things. First, it could be that at home, they are following the tradition from years ago when players didn’t wear their names on their jersey (baseball loves tradition). The Red Sox also don’t wear names on their home jerseys, and the Yankees don’t wear names on either their home or away jerseys, and both those teams have a strong baseball tradition, so this explanation is plausible. Alternately, it could just be that at home they figure everyone knows who they are so there is no need for names. I also came across a third interesting take on this, and they suggested that they leave names off to increase program sales! So remember – If you want to buy a Giants jersey and put your name or a player’s name on the back, don’t buy a white jersey or you will be ridiculed by true Giants fans!
From reading these rules, it seems to me the goals are to 1) make sure all the players look alike so that they can be identified as teammates, 2) make sure no part of the uniform is distracting (see rules d, e, and f), 3) make sure the uniform will not harm anyone (details on the cleats – you could really hurt someone if you had cleats on the tip or heel of your shoe!), and 4) make sure that they look tidy (see rule c). The latter has traditionally been an especially important one in baseball. Also, the rule about not wearing something that mimics the shape of a ball is interesting. Could that possibly confuse a batter if they saw a ball on the pitcher’s uniform? And interestingly enough, the Giants have a ball on the sleeve of their uniform that says “Giants” across it. Check it out. Sorry to tattle on you guys, but aren’t you breaking the rule?? Since it says that anyone but the pitcher can have letters on their undershirt, I’m going to start a campaign to have them all embroider “Carm” on their sleeve – in orange.
That is the extent of uniform rules in the MLB official rules. So why was Pablo fined for his colorful shoes? I don’t see any rule governing the color of shoes, and besides that, it seems there are tons of other things that are not covered in these rules like pants and jewelry. I had to search for a while, and finally came across this article on the internet. This G2 rule they mention is not part of the official MLB rules, and upon further research I found out that there is an additional set of rules listed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. These rules are decided upon through agreement between the MLB Players Association and MLB, and this set will be in place through the 2016 season. These rules address specifics on pants, jerseys, undershirts, compression sleeves, outerwear, footwear, adornments and markings (an especially long section!), alterations, wristbands, gloves, and helmets. I’m not going to list all the rules here, but if you would like to check them out, here you go. The uniform regulations start on page 193 (!). In there, you will find the rule that Pablo broke: “At least 51% of the exterior of each Player’s shoes must be the Club’s designated primary shoe color and the portion of the Club’s designated primary shoe color must be evenly distributed throughout the exterior of each shoe.” Here’s a picture of the shoes Pablo wore (second picture down). I’m assuming that the Giants primary shoe color is black and not orange. I understand this rule because I can see how those shoes would be a distraction to a pitcher. Brian Wilson got dinged for the same thing last year, and he ended up taking a black Sharpie to his shoes to fall within the 51% range. Here’s a picture of his shoes (click on the picture to make it larger). There were plenty of bright shoes worn during the All-Star Game this year. Check out this shot of some of the players and their loud kicks (third picture down). Melky was also sporting a pair of bright orange Nikes. I guess they aren’t as strict when enforcing the rules during that special game.
I’ll mention a couple of the rules that caught my eye. There is a rule about baggy pants. This one was probably motivated by the current baggy pants clothing style. Your pants can’t be so baggy that they interfere with the umpire’s ability to make calls or provide the player with a competitive advantage. I guess if pants were too baggy, they could block the umps view of a play? The only competitive advantage I can see is that you might get more walks if the pitcher happens to pitch and hit your baggy pants (if any part of your uniform is hit, you will still get a walk). Otherwise, I think it would be more difficult to run around in baggy pants, right? Can anyone think of any other possible advantage? I’m also wondering if anyone can answer a uniform question for me. How do players that wear the pants to their shoes get their pants to stay down when they slide? Don’t they ride up? What’s the trick??
There are a lot of rules governing wearing company logos. I guess they don’t want you out there giving free advertising to either your sponsor or a company that you are part of. Makes sense. I’ve heard of issues with this in other sports as well.
Of note is that there are no rules regarding baseball hats. Maybe that’s why some guys hats look like they have been driven over by a semi and some have so much sweat in them that you can see lines of salt. Blech!
There are tons of rules regarding jewelry and tattoos. Basically you can’t wear a lot of bling. It can’t be distracting and it can’t be of any danger to you or someone else. I’ve often worried that someone’s long necklace could get caught while they are sliding and they could choke. A pendant could also reflect the sun into another player’s eyes and be a distraction. Considering this, I’ve actually seen a lot of pendants (especially crosses) that would be considered illegal. Pitchers can’t have distracting tattoos or they can be forced to cover them up. If you’re going to get some crazy, bright orange tattoo, I guess you should get it on your back! An interesting one is that you can’t wear white wristbands because they might be confused with the ball. Had never thought about that, but it makes sense. You wonder how a lot of these rules came into existence, possibly with someone coming up with the idea to distract players and then being shot down. One rule I would love to see added would be that you can’t have too much brown goop on your helmet! Yuck! Pablo would be in big trouble with that one!
What are the punishments for infractions of these rules? First, you get a warning (maybe that’s why no one got fined for the shoes during the All-Star Game, and maybe the players know this and take advantage of it for that one game). Second time, you get a $1000 fine (that’s what happened to Pablo and Brian). Third time, a $5000 fine, and fourth time, a $10,000 fine. I would guess that this wouldn’t be much of a deterrent for some of the more flamboyant players.
Besides Pablo and Brian, many players have been cited for uniform infractions. Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Justin Miller was told by MLB that he had to wear a long sleeve shirt under his uniform when he pitched to cover up his tattoos since a player complained that they were a distraction. Another pitcher, the Red Sox Dennis Boyd, was ordered to remove a gold chain with a large medallion when the other team’s manager complained that it was a distracting his players. Before the ruling, Boyd’s team was ahead 3-0, but after the ruling they lost the game 4-3. In that case, the infraction was a distraction to the player who committed the infraction! In 1938, Cleveland pitcher Johnny Allen was ordered by an umpire to cut off part of his sweatshirt sleeve which dangled when he pitched. The irate pitcher refused, storming off the mound. In 2007, Carlos Guillen of the Detroit Tigers got a warning letter from the league because he chose to wear his left pants pocket out. It had become his signature trademark since 2004. The rules state that pant pockets may not be intentionally untucked. The interesting thing about this one is that he got away with it for so long. Anyone have any interesting uniform stories to share (Dave?)? Please let me know, and I’ll post them in my next blog.
Now that you’re an expert on MLB uniforms, we’ll move on to the spit counts. I have three new ones for you. Prepare for your jaws to drop!!
– Sandoval 9
– Cabrera 8
– Pagan 7
– H. Sanchez 3
– Theriot 3
– Zito 2 (continuing to disappoint me)
– Posey 2
– Kontos 2
– Bochy 2
– Cain 1
– Kelly 1
– Belt 1
– Uribe 1
– Cunningham 1
– Ethier 1
– Rivera 1
– Gordon 1
– Ellis 1
– Kennedy 1
– Elbert 1
– Kid Giants Fan 1
– Umpire 1
Game Spit Master General = Sandoval with 9
That’s a total of 51 spits during a 2 hour and 45 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 3.2 minutes.
During this game I witnessed a snot rocket from Zito. He has a different method than Bumgarner in that he uses two fingers instead of one. It was like he was trying to hide the fact that he was doing it. Will the madness ever cease???
– Sandoval 21 (high, but just wait!!)
– Lincecum 13
– Casilla 9
– Pagan 5
– Romo 5
– Cabrera 3
– Posey 3
– Bochy 3
– Theriot 3
– Penny 3
– Arias 2
– Loux 1
– Bumgarner 1
– Belt 1
– Affeldt 1
– Random guy walking out of dugout 1
Astros: (get ready for it!!)
– Snyder 44 (!!!!!!!!)
– Harrell 15
– Altuve 5
– Martinez 2
– Lyon 2
– Mills 1
– Lowry 1
– Bixler 1
– Rodriguez 1
– Schafer 1
– Umpire 18 (all were from the home plate umpire)
Game Spit Master General = Snyder with 44 (new all-time record – what is it with catchers??)
Giants Game Spit Master General = Sandoval with 21 (new Giants season record)
Misc. Game Spit Master General = Umpire with 18 (new all-time record)
That’s a total of 160 spits (!) during a 4 hour game for an average of 1 spit every 1.5 minutes (new all time record).
So many records were shattered during this game. The previous record for most spits during a single game was set by Chris Stewart last year at 38. Now granted this game was 4 hours long, but still! The previous Giants season record was 15. The spit average had never dipped below 1 every 2 minutes, and that stat is not affected by how long a game is so we have evidence that this game was unusually spitastic. The previous record for a miscellaneous person was 3. I was able to find out that the name of this particular umpire is Brian Knight – going to have to keep an eye on that guy in the future. Why the hell is an umpire spitting that much? I think you need some medical attention, dude. How can you not be distracted from your umpiring duties if you are spitting that much?? These records are so incredible that they may warrant me sending additional spit certificates to Snyder and Knight at the end of the season.
– Posey 6
– Theriot 5
– Vogelsong 5
– Belt 5
– Cabrera 5
– Pagan 4
– Sandoval 3
– Groeschner 3
– Romo 3
– Whiteside 3
– Casilla 3
– Christian 2
– Arias 2
– Lincecum 2
– Righetti 1
– Schierholtz 1
– Affeldt 1
– Meulens 1
– Penny 1
– Bourn 19
– McCann 4
– Francisco 2
– Medlen 2
– Minor 1
– Prado 1
– Janish 1
– Jones 1
– Uggla 1
– Varvaro 1
– Heyward 1
Game Spit Master General = Bourn with 19
Giants Game Spit Master General = Posey with 6
That’s a total of 90 spits during a 4 hour and 10 minute long game for an average of 1 spit every 2.8 minutes.
Sort of anticlimactic after that last one. Also note that the duration of this game was almost exactly the same yet the previous game had almost twice as many spits. Amazing.
I have so many things to chat about. I really need to blog more often because this stuff accumulates on my desk waiting to get out to you! I’ll start with the Eli update. He’s only been back with the big boys for two games and he’s played in both. And what an appearance he’s made! He came into yesterday’s game in the ninth inning, and since they went into extra innings he actually got some decent playing time. During that game he was hit by a pitch so he got on base, he stole second, and then he scored a run! Then today he was the starting catcher, and in the 5th inning he hit a double to bring in Nate and tie the game! And Timmy even acknowledged him in his post-game interview! I’m so proud of my boy! If I could use more exclamation points and not be obnoxious, I would!! I feel I can take some credit on that double myself as when he got up to bat, I stood up in front of the TV and sent fellow whitey brain waves to him with both hands at my temples and chanted, “Get a hit! Get a hit!” It worked! And did you notice he even made an appearance in the last spit count?? I know he won’t be getting a whole lot of playing time in the long run, but I’m sure he is savoring this. And I’m enjoying seeing him interact with the other guys on the team. Way to go, Eli! I missed you!
Can’t continue without mentioning Ginny’s boy, Brandon Crawford, at this point. That was a sweet go-ahead grand slam he hit today! That’s his second since the one he hit in his first big-league game. Talk about a thrill! Unfortunately, Ginny missed it live as she was at dinner, but I’m sure she’ll get to see plenty of replays. And don’t forget the three-run homerun he got in Atlanta to put us in the lead. Way to go, Kid!
One of my biggest pet peeves is when a guy fields a ball and then takes that extra step before throwing it to base to get someone out. I’ve always wondered why they waste the time to do that. It turns out that they are setting themselves up to be more balanced, and this in turn improves their throwing accuracy and strength. Kruk and Kuip referred to this the other day as a “crow hop.” So there’s one less reason to be yelling at the TV during games! Another new term I learned from them recently is a “cup of coffee player.” This refers to a player who is only in the big leagues for a short time – long enough to have a cup of coffee. I thought that one was pretty funny. Then I also learned that pitchers can use a scuffed ball to their advantage. You know how you constantly see pitchers returning balls to the ump? Kruk mentioned that they do this too often, and that you can actually use a scuff to help you grip the ball better. Very interesting! Thanks for the continuing education, Kruk and Kuip!
To my dismay, they are still airing the Comcast SportsNet ad where Ray Ratto pats Andrew Baggarly on the butt. Please, cease and desist! I can’t stand that thing! Show more of the one with the calf! Have you seen that one? Baggs is holding a calf by a rope at the ballpark and he’s thinking, “I can’t believe I’m calf sitting for Bumgarner again. He owes me an exclusive for this!” I had mentioned that the creepy ad takes place in the locker room in a previous blog. I was mistaken – it actually takes place in a laundry room. Still creepy. And speaking of Andrew Baggarly, he had mentioned several months ago that he had been a contestant on Jeopardy and that the episode would air in July. I watched it today but had to switch back and forth between that and the Giants postgame. Andy’s total had gone up and down the entire show until just before the last question when he had less than half the money of the leader. He answered the last question correctly, and this put him slightly above half of what the leader had. Thus, he still had a slim chance to pull off a win if he answered the Final Jeopardy question correctly and the champ answered incorrectly. Well lo and behold, the boy came through due to his knowledge of the movie “The Artist”, and he pulled off the win! Imagine having to keep that a secret all this time! I was so happy for him! Didn’t know our Giants Insider was such a brainiac! Now I’m looking forward to watching again on Monday to see how far he can go.
Feeling blue? Check out this video I came across of Clay Hensley hanging out in the dugout with a praying mantis. What a goofball!
Got some new gossip on a couple of players. Found out from Amy G. that Hector Sanchez is engaged and will be married in December. Congrats, Kid! Get better soon so we can have your bat back in the lineup. Also noticed in an interview the other day that Barry Zito has a tattoo of what looks like a dog on his upper right arm. I had never noticed it before, and I couldn’t find an image of it on the internet, but it was there plain as day. I’ll have to ask him about it next time I see him (HEEEEEEE!!!). And apparently Gregor Blanco has a sense of humor. Nate Stahlberg of CSNBayArea.com reports that the backs of his cleats are embroidered, the left reading “Greg” and the right reading “White.” Guess the silliness on that team is infectious!
Roberto Kelly is back coaching at first base. Glad to see that he is back to normal.
Those Braves players are a weird bunch. Did any of you notice that pitcher Tim Hudson used the rosin bag on his bald head? I had never experienced said bag being used in such a manner. And what is up with that kooky dance that Dan Uggla does when he’s in the batter’s box? It looks like he has some ants in his pants!
I learned an interesting fact from watching the Inside the Clubhouse show on Will Clark the other day. At one point during the ’89 NL Championship Series vs. the Cubs, Will was up with the bases loaded. Greg Maddux was on the mound and the manager went out to discuss how to deal with Clark since he was such an amazing batter. Clark claims that he saw Maddux say “fastball in.” It ends up that is exactly what he pitched, and since he was ready for it, Clark got a grand slam. Supposedly this is what started the trend of pitchers talking into their mitts to hide what they are saying from members of the other team. Isn’t that fascinating??
Everybody has been talking about the poor pitching performance of Tim Lincecum this season (besides his last two awesome starts), and everyone has their theories on what’s been causing his problems. I myself think the boy is way too skinny – I think his balk today was caused by a gentle breeze blowing him off the mound. But I think I’ve come up with a solution to all this. He needs to stay at my mom’s house for a week. I’ve nicknamed my mom “the food pusher.” You can’t enter that house without having at least 3 full meals, even if you’re only there for an hour. That would definitely put some meat on those bones. What do you think? I need to schedule an emergency meeting with Bochy.
So I went on vacation at the beginning of July, and during said vacation I did not turn on a TV or access the internet. Talk about Giant withdrawal! I got home and discovered that they had won 1 game in 6 while I was gone! OK – not gonna do that again anytime soon! I’m so proud that the boys had stellar All-Star appearances, with Cain’s two shutout innings, getting one strikeout and allowing only one hit, Pablo’s base clearing triple (first ever in an All-Star game), and Melky’s MVP performance with his single and homerun. Give credit to Buster, too, as even though he didn’t get a hit, he did a great job catching for Matt and probably helped put him at ease. It was so great to make those East Coast lovers eat crow! The boys have been doing so well on this recent road trip, winning 3 of 4 games so far. I hope the momentum can continue and they can stay ahead of those pesky Dodgers. It seems like everything is finally coming together for my boys. I’ll continue to watch and cheer them on, and I hope you will, too. Until next time, GO GIANTS!!