The Best Uniforms In The Big Four Sports
Have you ever noticed that the greatest franchises in the big four sports have the best looking uniforms and the greatest team nicknames?
Start with baseball, the sport with the longest history. The Yankees are the most dominant franchise in all of sports, and they have the winning combination of the classiest uniform of all he always fashionable pinstripes nd a great nickname. Soldiers in the Revolutionary War were derisively called Yankees by the British, then the colonists proudly referred to themselves by that name, and by World War I the Americans who saved Europe for the first time were called Yanks.
The Dodgers uniform is a marvel of simplicity. A odger is a former Brooklynite who had to make his way to the ballpark by dodging trolleys. What a name! And what a uniform: that crisp white and traditional Dodger blue, with the number in bold red, making for a subtly patriotic combination. Granted, the Dodgers left Brooklyn after the 1957 season, but their name lives on so strongly that it carries them to a second place finish in this division.
Finally, both teams have the traditional cap with the initials of their respective cities interwoven into one recognizable symbol.
The Cardinals baseball team has great uniforms with the cardinals perching on the bat, and a great shade of red with yellow trim. They have won 10 World Series, second most to the Yankees 26, but in the recent past have veered from their Cardinal red by wearing the dreaded, boring, navy caps that look black on television. Ugly. Copycat. Pandering. Cheap. Unexciting. Any team in any sport that goes Darth Vader by introducing navy/black to their daily color scheme has one strike against it. If a team dons dark hats instead of red, they just might screw up the rest of the uniform by going to black jerseys like some of the other, lesser successful teams in sports. Please don do it, St. Louis.
In football, there is no greater combination of team name and uniform than the Green Bay Packers, who were named after the Indian Packing Company, an initial sponsor of the team at its inception in the 1920s. The team nickname goes the extra distance by being able to be shortened to something as recognizable as the full nickname: The PACK. The Pack is back. The Pack, also a name for a band of marauding wild dogs, connotes a wild bunch you don want to meet up with on Sunday. There is no finer combination of colors than the gold helmet emblazoned with the traditional G, the forest green shirts and gold pants. Contrast this to the nauseating unicolored pants and shirts of the football Giants, the Arizona Cardinals, or the Seattle Seahawks. Pretenders, wannabes, all of them.
The Bears have a great uniform. Not those femme orange tutus, but Bear black with the orange trim. But why the name Bears? The story is that since the Bears would play at Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, the football team should have a name tougher than Cubs. So, Chicago is out of the running here because its team nickname is not original or emblematic of the region history.
The NY Giants football team is disqualified because, as mentioned, they have the audacity to wear a spandex type uniform more fitting for a dance troupe than a gang of men trying to knock the heads off their opposition.
The Cowboys are eliminated because Jerry Jones, or somebody looking to make a quick buck, decided to suit up the Cowboys in their new-age throwbacks with the different colors on the shoulders, making them look like the JV team from a school that can even afford quality uniforms for the varsity. Why don they just pin the numbers on the backs of the players, with the names written in Sharpie? If Jones had stuck with the traditional Cowboy white, blue and silver, the Cowboys franchise would rank high.
Three more NFL franchises demonstrate the great combination of a traditional, meaningful nickname and stunning uniform: the Steelers, Chiefs and Chargers, who, according to uniform student Chris Berman of ESPN, have the greatest uniforms in the history of team sports with their powder blues, a reminder of the great AFL days of the 1960s.
The STEELERS! They represent their town as ably as the Packers. A working man team in a working man town. The greatest teams of the 1970s and all of pro football history. The black and gold. Only one logo on the helmet, which says, STEEL. U.S. STEEL.
The Chiefs uniforms are just downright nice to look at. The best red, aside from baseball St. Louis Cardinals, in all of sports. When combined with the gold and white trim and the arrowhead logo (for which their football-only stadium is named), in the bright sun of an October afternoon, there is no more glorious array of colors on Sunday afternoons. To top it off, the Chiefs have never strayed to the one-color uniform and they don play in a dome, which mutes everything visually and would be as ludicrous as dressing the Chiefs cheerleaders in heavy wool sweaters two sizes too large.
The San Diego Chargers rank only as high as first substitute because of their nondescript name. It a fine name but not very significant or specific to San Diego, as equally good a name for a horse as a football team. The name Chargers was chosen capriciously through a contest and partially because the team owner wanted to promote his new credit card business Carte Blanche (to encourage people to charge more, hence Chargers). Their uniforms put them as first substitute, the sixth man winner of this contest, first off the bench. The powder blue jerseys and the lightning bolts on the helmets are the flashiest design in the NFL, but that is not their regular uniform and is only worn occasionally.
NFL honorable mentions go to the Vikings and Eagles for having a logo that generally resembles the glory days, thereby maintaining their traditions as great NFL franchises. The Colts deserve a spot on the honorable mention list, but they have three weaknesses: they changed cities; the name Colts was chosen in part because its short length would fit well into newspaper headlines; and the uniform, despite displaying the traditional horseshoe that makes one think of Johnny Unitas as often as Peyton Manning, is somewhat dull and uninspiring.
The Raiders have a great uniform if you like thuggery, which is what their name and bleak color combination signifies, all appropriately symbolized by Jack Tatum, committer of the NFL worst cheap shot when he speared Darryl Stingley and permanently paralyzed him in a 1978 preseason game.
Only two NBA teams have a great name to go with a great uniform: the Celtics and the Lakers. The Lakers qualify because their name (aside from the Utah Jazz), is the most enigmatic in all of sports. If one did not know the team history, he might think the name Lakers was originally meant to be a joke, for southern California is known for 10,000 things before lakes. Their gold and purple suggests royalty, and their cache is, along with the Celtics, the strongest in the NBA.
The Celtics will be off this list in 2009 if they once again trim the kelly green with . . . ugh, black. Danny Ainge, how could you, especially since you played for the Celtics in the 1980s? And don call them the C ! They are the Celtics and, only to true fans, the Celts. Anyone who calls them the C , Jim Rome included, should be on probation for an affront to the tradition of sports. What, the C from BoMass beat the L from SoCal to win the NBA cham? Come on, no more of that amateurish crap.
All other NBA teams have altered their uniforms as often as a big lead evaporates because Tim Donaghy had to beat a point spread. No other NBA team qualifies.
NHL sweaters are just plain cool, which is why the genuine article sells for $250 at the arena. I make fun of a bunch of guys who skate around in sweaters and shorts, but I know how tough these guys are. If I were a hockey player, I would wear a cage over my face, one of those neck protectors major league catchers wear, a cup in my shorts, steel-toed skates, Kevlar from neck to ankle, and a razor-sharp device on my back so that when Todd Bertuzzi checks me from behind he would be eviscerated while paralyzing me from the neck down. With a sweater and shorts covering it all.
The Detroit Red Wings have a uniform that signifies their tradition. Since 1932 their logo has been the winged wheel and their nickname has been the Red Wings, and it has changed little in 76 years. The Red Wings name evolved from an amateur team in Montreal named the Winged Wheelers, and the wheel is a good fit with the city automotive industrial roots. The red and white, or white and red, uniforms streaking up and down the ice conjure up the great history of the NHL, rivaled by the other great hockey uniform and team name, the Montreal Canadiens.
The famous C nearly encircling the smaller H has been a mainstay of the beloved Canadiens jersey since 1917. Loyal fans refer to the jersey as he holy flannel sweater. Rightly so, as the Canadiens have the second most championships in the big four professional sports, with 23 since 1917 (second only to the Yankees 26 titles). The H does not stand for abitants, as is commonly believed. It simply stands for the word hockey, as in ockey club (Club de Hockey Canadien). Canadian hockey imple, direct, and a reminder of where the game originated.
Honorable mentions for NHL uniforms include the Blackhawks of Chicago. It has changed a lot in its time, and there is a partial rumor that the team name was chosen to promote the owner restaurant, called the Blackhawk, for which the Blackhawks get a two-minute minor penalty and are disqualified. But the old Indian logo is great, and the ガawks, to their credit, have refused to change the logo because of political correctness. The spoked wheel of the Boston Bruins and their black and gold is also worth mentioning.
There are some great uniforms of newer teams, but the tincture of time is needed to allow their greatness to arise. The fickleness and greed of the new owners will probably prevent any team from having a logo, nickname and team colors that last for several decades.
The winners, by sports, are: Packers, Yankees, Celtics, and Red Wings (in the closest contest of the four).
Cherish these uniforms and nicknames. When they are changed, sports will have lost a beloved part of its own history, to be saved only in museums, photographs and the memories of your parents.