The Cardinals officially announced Friday that they are adding a third uniform to their wardrobe (yes, uniform – the pants will be Heritage White also) to wear during Saturday home games.
Reaction has been swift and divided. Many do not like the departure from the strictly two kit arrangement that has helped define the Cardinals’ tradition and history. Others like that the Cardinals are recognizing their home city and creating a new part of Cardinal lore.
My initial thoughts lean much more positive than not. I just can’t get myself worked up about the various complaints levied against the new uniforms.
Make no mistake, the folks who say the addition is merely an attempt to boost merchandise sales are at least partially right. I don’t believe it is the entire, only motivation, but there’s no doubt this alternate get-up should improve merchandising revenue. And so what? Shouldn’t we all WANT the team to make more money? Isn’t the goal to have enough incoming revenue to field a competitive team year in and year out? If the Cardinals front office slapped a tag on the new jersey that said they were donating 50% of the proceeds to an Adam Wainwright extension, then would everyone hop on board? My point being, yes, there is a merchandising motivation – the Cardinals have long held that they must find creative and alternate ways to generate revenue to allow them to continue to maintain their payroll commitments. This is one. If only the Cardinals received a larger portion of the pie from sales of their team’s merchandise, they might have five or six different get-ups by now.
I can appreciate the tradition sentiment to some extent, that the two-uni standard has been the rule, and the Cardinals were one of the last hold-outs. The departure from the “Cardinals” script below the Birds on the Bat is significant. But let’s not hold this up as something completely out of the blue. The Cardinals wore a script “St. Louis” on their jerseys in 1932, both home and road – so isn’t this more of a nod to tradition than a departure? Teams have worn their city names on jerseys for longer than I’d guess any of us can remember. Isn’t it a nod to tradition and a recognition of the great city the team calls home to have “St. Louis” cradling the Birds on the Bat as the city has the team for so many years?
Admittedly, I do have some beef with the uniforms, and it’s that city name. I think it’s great in concept and design, I think it’s a great idea on a jersey, but I think it belongs on a road uni. I can only assume this portion of the undertaking caused the greatest amount of angst amongst the front office – there was discussion of the St. Louis script going on the permanent road grays, but that significant of a change REALLY would’ve angered folks. So they’re left with a decision: adhere to a traditional application of the city name on a road alternate uniform, meaning their own fans won’t get to see them worn at Busch III; or you make it a home alternate, and the team name at home/city name on the road convention is discarded. Semantics to many I’m certain, but in a discussion (argument?) about tradition, I am virtually certain that this was a real consideration for the Cardinals.
Look, it’s not as if the Cardinals just went out and created a softball jersey. There’s not a dancing, illuminated Fredbird on the chest (or above the center field wall for that matter). This does not all of a sudden make the Cardinals the Marlins, the Nationals, or any other solid-colored shirsey sporting ball club.
Perhaps the best quip I read on the new uniforms was this comment from Viva El Birdos (on a, um, passionate post about said third uniform):
More importantly, how will the new uniforms look when they are being doused with champagne?
Indeed, perhaps we should all reserve judgment until a cool October night in the near future.