MLB Plans to Fix Uniform Problem, But Maybe Not Right Away

Detroit Tigers right fielder Riley Greene.

Getty Detroit Tigers right fielder Riley Greene.

The controversy surrounding Major League Baseball’s uniform has come to a resolution. However, that resolution may not happen for a while.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on April 28 that a memo sent to players from the Major League Baseball Players Association said that MLB will address the problems with the new Nike Vapor Premier uniforms. The changes may not come until the beginning of the 2025 season.

The new uniforms were introduced at the beginning of spring training in February and were universally met with derision from the players, fans and media.

The biggest complaint by the fans was that the players’ nameplates were too small, making it difficult to read. The players did not like the quality of material used in the uniforms, especially with the pants being see-through.

There were also other problems. Things like mismatched colors between the jerseys and the pants and the fabric quickly becoming soaked with sweat.

One veteran MLB equipment manager, who asked that he not be identified, told Heavy Sports during spring training, “The seamstresses are working overtime sewing up all the tears [in the uniforms].”

Put the Blame on Nike

Until MLBPA circulated its memo, the blame for the uniforms was almost equally on Nike and Fanatics by the players. Nike designed the uniforms and Fanatics makes and distributes them.

However, the memo said that Nike was completely at fault and Fanatics bears no responsibility.

“At its core, what has happened here is that Nike was innovating something that didn’t need to be innovated,” the memo read.

That echoed a statement MLB made to The Athletic on April 4 in which it said Fanatics carried out design plans to “the exact specifications provided by Nike.”

One of the more embarrassing moments with the uniforms this season came on April 9 when Detroit Tigers right fielder Riley Greene had his pants rip at the seams when he slid into home plate in a game against Pittsburgh Pirates.

That led to “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon to crack, “I get the feeling this year that we’re going to see a lot more dingers.”

Rob Manfred’s Prediction Proven Wrong

For much of this century, MLB uniforms were produced by Majestic, a Pennsylvania-based company. Majestic was bought out in 2017 by Fanatics, an online sports merchant headed by former Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has not commented on the subject since February 15 during a media availability in Tampa in the early days of spring training.

Manfred downplayed the controversy, saying, “There’s going to be some negative feedback” with any new product. He also predicted that “they’re going to be really popular.”

That prediction has turned out to be wrong.

The players hated the uniforms in February and still hate them with May approaching. The same goes for the fans. The derision of the new threads has gone on unabated.

A resolution is forthcoming, ESPN reported, with the lettering becoming bigger and the pants no longer being so revealing, among other fixes. Seemingly for everyone, it can’t come soon enough.

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