MLB Notebook: Fanatics jerseys draw criticism, Orioles open camp with multiple injuries, and more

Photo credit:© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Holden
1 month ago

Fanatics jerseys draw criticism from players and fans:

From tiny letters to skin-tight material, the new MLB uniforms suck. Nike and Fanatics are the new producers of the jerseys for Major League Baseball for the first time this year, and fans and players alike really do not like them.
As Spring Training kicked off, photos flooded social media of players rocking the new uniforms, and they were nothing short of bad. Miles Mikolas was one of the first to go on record and complain about the attire. 
“[The jersey’s don’t fit right, the pants are no longer as customized, and the fabric is a very different consistency.” And the worst complaint of all: “They look cheap.”
How can the uniforms that the professionals use and wear everyday look cheap!? And they do! Tiny nameplates misplaced MLB logos, horrendously pressed letters, everything has been wrong from Nike and Fanatics.
The new jerseys Nike has introduced for the 2024 is the ‘Nike Vapor Premier chassis.’ The jersey was “engineered to improve mobility, moisture management and fit, while keeping sustainability in mind.” Apparently they had no engineers take into account printing costs. 
The players hate them. Angels reliever, Carlos Estévez had a full presentation in the Angels clubhouse outlining all the things wrong with the uniforms. Inconsistent spacing on the back of the jersey and the inability to customize his pants were some of his major gripes. 
I feel like I’m wearing someone else’s pants.”
Another thing Estévez mentioned was the contrasting shades on some of the jerseys, which is something Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson has noticed as well. 
Cubbie blue is its own blue, right?
The new producers can’t even get the colours of the teams they represent right! 
Swanson is a Nike athlete and he has reached out to Nike to try and correct the issue. However, he seems to be the only Nike athlete who will say a negative thing about it. Ronald Acuna Jr, Nolan Arenado, and Adley Rutschman have all said positive things about the jerseys. Even Jason Heyward, in a very natural, non-captive-like social media video, said that he liked wearing the jersey. 
While the letters have been shrunk on the new uniforms, there still seems to be less room for the names. Justin Verlander’s name looks like Saltalamacchia on the new Astros uniforms, yet you need a microscope to read Michael Kopech’s name on the new White Sox kits. It makes no sense how inconsistent the issues are.  
The MLBPA have now been made aware and are involved in the players’ issues with the new uniforms with numerous issues being brought to their attention. What will come of it is unclear, but something to monitor. 
But the worst part of the whole jersey issue, is they look exactly like a bad replica jersey! Even Angels outfielder Taylor Ward said, “It looks like a replica.” But the replicas look no better.
As team stores begin to put out the new season merchandise, photos of the fresh apparel on social media blow up. George Kirby’s jersey looks pressed on with a balloon, the MLB logo in awkward positions, the patches on the arms look like stickers, it has not been good. 
Things need to change for Nike and Fanatics; collectors and players are upset. Fewer and fewer people will be willing to spend money on the merchandise of the players they love and will be more willing to spend less on the off-market websites. If something is not done, it may be time to bring back majestic. As Rich Hill put it: “You’ve earned the right to wear a high-quality uniform,” and Nike and Fanatics have failed to do so. 

Orioles open camp with injured wings:

The Baltimore Orioles head into spring far from healthy. As players began to report to camp this week, the Orioles were dealt blow after blow after blow.
The first blow came when O’s ace Kyle Bradish was placed on the IL as he sprained his UCL. Bradish suffered the injury in January as he felt his elbow flare up during his offseason throwing program. Bradish received the the fourth most amount of votes in the AL Cy Young vote in 2023 and is slated to be a massive part of an exciting rotation in Baltimore in 2024.
Along with Bradish, Orioles’ young star shortstop Gunnar Henderson is also coming into Spring Training with an injury. Henderson comes into O’s camp suffering from an oblique injury after feeling some soreness during some long toss. His injury, at the moment, does not put his Opening Day in jeopardy, but Henderson will need a few weeks to recover. Tyler Kepner from The Athletic placed a two-to-three week timeline for the Orioles shorty. 
But it doesn’t stop there. Pitcher John Means will also likely see some time on the IL as he is still recovering from the elbow soreness that prevented him from pitching in last year’s Postseason. O’s Manager, Mike Elias, said that Means is still a month behind the rest of the pitching staff and will likely not be ready for Opening Day. 
One last dagger in the Orioles injury report is prospect Catcher, Samuel Basallo. Basallo is currently the No. 5 prospect in the Orioles organization but is entering camp with a stress fracture in his throwing elbow and won’t be able to see any Grapefruit League action until late April. Basallo is allowed to catch but cannot throw, so when he is cleared to play, he will likely appear as a Designated Hitter. Basallo had a massive season in his first years in the minors, smacking 20 homers, 86 RBIs, and a .313 average, another Orioles prospect to keep an eye on.
With these injuries, especially to the rotation, the Orioles could get aggressive in the market.
They already acquired Corbin Burnes two weeks ago, but could they also be open to splashing on Blake Snell who is still available? Ken Rosenthal suggested Michael Lorenzen and Mike Clevenger as other options the O’s could look at adding. Heading into Spring Training, the Birds could be a team to watch in the coming weeks. 

Commissioner Rob Manfred to leave position in 2029:

Rob Manfred announced to the media on Thursday that this will be his final term as MLB Commissioner. Manfred’s tenure will conclude in January of 2029 as he will step down as baseball’s tenth Commissioner
Manfred was elected Commissioner in August 2014 and officially took over in January 2015, succeeding former Commissioner Bud Selig. Manfred has been elected three times in his tenure but will step down after his third term. 
During his time as Commissioner, baseball has undergone numerous changes and growth under Manfred. Most recently, the success of the pitch clock and the subsequent increase in ticket sales in 2023. MLB attendance broke 70 million for the first time since 2017 and games were down to just over two-and-a-half hours. 
Manfred also navigated the COVID-19 crisis in a very efficient way. Allowing for a season to be played in it’s entirety. While still shortened, it did host a final with fans in the crowd. 
Plus, amateur and youth baseball and softball participation has skyrocketed since Manfred took over. After introducing the PLAY BALL youth engagement program, participation in baseball and softball has increased nearly 90%.
The outlook now shifts to the future for Rob Manfred as he touches on numerous other subjects and issues he is looking into for baseball. As Spring Training starts up, there are still numerous top free agents still without a contract. Many baseball fans throughout the winter were quite displeased with the slow pace of the offseason and a suggestion of a possible signing deadline was floated. Manfred commented on the idea saying that the league “would prefer to have a free-agent signing period,” proposing December as a possible time for the deadline. Manfred’s concept for the proposed deadline would allow for “flurried activity,” and implied the Winter Meetings as a potential event for the movement period.
But this proposition has not gone over well with agents, especially Scott Boras. “Deadlines are death-lines to the players,” objects Boras. “It’s a death of their right.”
The five top remaining free agents, Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell, Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman and J.D. Martinez, are all represented by the Boras Corporation and seeing as Boras very much objects to deadlines, I doubt we will see much movement from them anytime soon. 
As his resume suggests, Manfred has been a man of the fans, and if this is something the fans truly want, we could see a deadline implemented in the near future; much to Scott Boras’ dismay, I’m sure.

Quick Notes:

  • Toronto suggested possible All-Star Game locations in the near future. During his press conference on Thursday, Manfred said the 2027 All-Star game is in the process of being planned and Toronto was implied as a possible destination.
  • Liam Hendriks sets a deadline as he has numerous teams sending him offers. Jeff Passan reports Liam Hendriks has set a deadline of next Thursday to sign with a new team as he garners interest from various teams
  • Jorge Soler signs with the San Francisco Giants. Soler signs a three-year deal with the Giants worth $42 million, as San Fran secures their clean-up guy.


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