Monday, May 14, 2012

A Review of the New Blue Jays Uniforms

By
Image courtesy of TheStar.com
During the Back2Back reunion in 2009, the Blue Jays went into the vault and dug their old home white uniforms for the special occasion. At the time, I recall thinking just how great it was to see those old uniforms back once again.

I don't think I was alone in hoping that these uniforms would reemerge one day again in some shape or form. Luckily, our prayers were answered.

It might seem odd to review the new Blue Jays uniforms, but I figured now is a good a time as any to evaluate how they look. After all, at this point we’ve been able to see the new set in action for over a month now.

A few weeks ago, Eric from Definitely Not Jays Talk asked me about my thoughts on the new uniforms and I said I could not be more pleased with the results. The Blue Jays could not have done a better job of rebranding and re-imaging themselves in the off-season.

At first, I was a little unsure about the new serif font (which is Penumbra Half Serif for those counting at home), but now I think it’s grown on me. The in-game graphics on Sportsnet and the Blue Jays website look very sharp and crisp; a stark contrast to the previous logo and uniforms.

While the fans were pretty vocal about their thoughts on the old set, I was very surprised to hear that Alex Anthopoulos despised them just as much as we did.



Maybe it was the bright lights, the comfy red chair and George Stroumboulopoulos' boyish charm, but I was a little shocked to hear the General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays use words like "brutal, awful and embarrassing" to describe the previous uniforms.

And the new set really does put the old one to shame. I think the huge difference is obviously the incorporation of the colour blue back into the uniforms. I can’t say for sure if it’s the exact pantone of Blue, but the colour is brilliant both literally and figuratively.

One of the best things about seeing all those photos from Blue Jays Spring Training earlier this year was the sea of blue. It really is a much more appealing colour to the eye, and it manages to be eye-catching without being gaudy like the Marlins Marlins uniforms.

With the black, it seemed like the logo faded into the background whereas the new uniforms are distinct. That particular hue of blue that's the most predominant in the blue alternate uniforms was the perfect choice.

I know the Blue Jays won’t come outright and say which of their three jerseys has sold the most, but I’m willing to bet it’s the blue alternate. I own one myself and if you haven’t seen one up close yet, trust me when I say the uniform is even more beautiful in person.

I’m not usually one to buy a white uniform, simply because it becomes a magnet for dirt and beer spills, but I’m leaning strongly towards picking up a home white jersey as well. It's a very classic looking ensemble, capped off with that beautiful blue cap.

You’ll notice that the Blue Jays actually have four different uniform configurations this time around: the home whites, the away greys, the home alternate blue with home white pants, and the away grey pants combined with the home alternate blue jersey.

Even the away grey jerseys are very sharp looking. I think having the constant of the blue cap for all three versions of the uniform was a very wise idea. In previous years, I had no idea which games dictated which cap/uniform combinations.

Were the away greys always worn with the “toothpaste T” caps? Were the alternate home black uniforms always worn with the primary logo cap? There was a bit of confusion as to which caps always went with which uniforms.

My only criticism is that you’ll notice the actual size of the Blue Jays logo is very different depending on on which cap it is. The fitted hats all feature a fairly large sized bird on the front, but several of the adjustable caps have a much smaller primary logo on the cap.

Images courtesy of Jays Shop
For those such as myself who just can’t pull off a fitted cap for one reason or another, you’ll have to resort to an adjustable cap with a much smaller logo on the front. But this issue doesn’t really pertain to the player’s caps, just to fans looking to buy caps.

I think the Blue Jays made a very wise decision to go with the solid blue cap rather than going with a white-paneled front cap. As much as I love my old Blue Jays cap, I find it to be more of a novelty or fashion cap rather than one you'd want to see on the field.

That's where I think the Baltimore Orioles made a crucial mistake in the design of their new uniforms. While they also decided to go back to their roots, the Orioles opted to go with the white panel cap to go with their home uniforms.

Even though I endorse the O's reverting back to the cartoon bird as their primary logo, there's something that doesn't sit quite right with the white panel cap. Personally, I think it would look much better with a solid black cap instead.

I guess that goes to show that very subtle things can make a big impact on the overall look of a new uniform. If the Blue Jays chose to use a white panel cap, who knows how people might have reacted to the new uniforms. It may only be a minor thing, but it's those details that make all the difference.

To the untrained eye, there might not be much difference between the old logo and the new one, and perhaps that was all part of the plan. Eventually I think it will get to the point down the road where people will see the new logo and just assume it’s the old one.

A new generation of Blue Jays fans are going to grow up watching this team, and all they'll ever know is the latest version of the logo and the uniform. And I think that's a good thing because this set is an homage to the old one, and not a carbon copy.

I can possibly see a tweaking of the primary logo down the road, but the new Blue Jays font itself doesn’t need to change. The bird could be streamlined a little bit and I think the size of the maple leaf could be taken down a touch.

Much like some of the fans who were kids during the heyday of the Blue Jays dynasty, I think the new Blue Jays logo and uniforms have matured as well. Where the old logo may have looked a bit minimalist, the new bird has evolved.

The fans have grown up ... and the logo has grown up too. But this one set that's going to stick around for many years to come.

13 comments:

  1. Great writeup! I really love the new unis. Every time they step out in them I am still in awe about how great they look. They really make losses easier to take!

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    1. Not to mention, it makes the players look even better on the replays!

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  2. dude - vlad guerrero post STAT. enough of this stupid uniform chatter. can't believe three days have passed without a vlad write-up.

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  3. Thanks Ian for writing about the uniforms.

    Some people might dismiss the importance of logos and uniforms, but I think they are important for establishing a team's sense of pride and identity. Connecting the current Blue Jays players with the great Blue Jays of 1985-1993 is important for both the fans and the players themselves. Everyone should know that today's Blue Jays have a torch to carry forward.

    In the post here, when you refer to the 'old' uniforms, it's not clear whether you're talking about the classic uniforms with the original logo, or the RIcciardi-era 'Jays' uniforms of 2004-2011. Some clarity in the writing would help. But aside from that, I like the post and appreciate that you wrote about the uniforms and logo.

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    1. Sorry, I probably should have been more clear - in most instances when I mention the "old" uniforms, I mean the glory days uniforms. When I say "previous", I mean the Ricciardi ones.

      You're very right that the uniform really does instill a sense of pride. If you're not proud to wear the jersey, what does that say about the team and more importantly the organization?

      It really is something that seems so simple, but it really does have a huge impact.

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  4. I hope it's not "many years to come"...I hope it's permanent.

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    1. Same here! Like I said, I can see them tweaking it a little bit down the road, but there's nothing there right now that needs a drastic overhaul.

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  5. About two weeks ago, I was thinking the exact same thing (on every single point with you). And I was tempted to comment on a post to encourage you to do another uni review/reflections. Simply because, even on MLB.TV, the uniforms are a sight for sore eyes. They won the uniform derby this off season, no doubt.

    As someone who has grown up only being able to watch the Jays on special occasions, their uniforms were always a disappointment. When I first "became" (aren't we all just born Jays fans?), they were much better, and I begged my parents to order me a hat and shirt which I wore until they were two sizes too small. After that, it was a period where the Jays did not play ATL (or played at Rogers), were changing their logo/colors so often, and were honestly kinda terrible, so I never geared up besides a grey T hat. But day 1 of the re-branding I started picking out my Christmas wish-list. Like you, fitted caps don't work, and I don't like my adjustable one much (although I still proudly wore it in Baltimore this past week at the O'S vs. Rays game). Its just a poor fit, and tiny logo. I want my hands on a little-league hat, they always fit me well and hold up well. But my shirts (I couldn't spring for a uni) are my favorite shirts now.

    I will be there in June as they visit the Braves and I will finally be able to be decked out in Jays gear, almost head to foot.


    Random side note, a friend of mine who I just started playing soccer with has a younger brother who I noticed running around in a KJ jersey, the new white one. Its rare to see Atlantan's wearing Jays gear, let alone a young 10 year old unless its their little league hat. Turns out they used to live next the KJ in the fall and got free Blue Jays stuff, and he signed it. Seriously. Jealous. I told them to move back and get me gear.

    As always a real pleasure to read your blog, looking forward to a Vlad post in a few weeks, a very exciting sign if lind continues to be...well ....lind....

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    1. Very cool! It's good to hear that there's a contingent of Blue Jays fans like you representing down in Atlanta. It must be difficult trying to find any sort of Blue Jays gear ... heck, sometimes it's tough to find it even here in Canada! But with the new uniforms, luckily it's getting much easier.

      I've been meaning to get to a Vlad post, but things like the Brett Lawrie freakout kind of sprung out of nowhere, so I'll see what I can do. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. I just don’t understand why team changes uniforms so much, when the elite teams (Yankees, Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers) have kept their logos untouched for years. There is a reason for that, like Seinfeld once said, we really root for laundry. MLB teams change players like dirty diapers, so if they keep changing the uniforms too, what are we left with? The Blue jays should have never changed their logo and unis form their back2back WS era, NEVER! And now you are talking about “tweaking” the “new” one? When is it gonna stop? But I guess it won’t stop. Wait and see, the BJ’s will introduce a white panel cap, and a black “alternate” jersey, and a “special” Sunday whatever ridiculous looking red jersey (Ugh!), and so on, and end up in the same mess. My advice? Keep this uniforms untouched, and invest in developing players!

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    1. I'm with you - I thought the Blue Jays should have just reverted back to the original uniforms from the 80's/90's, and that certainly would've been the easiest thing to do.

      But if you look back, even the Red Sox and Cardinals logos and uniforms have changed ever so slightly over the years. And I think that's what the Blue Jays were trying to do here; they didn't want to abandon the past completely, but they did want to update the look a bit for the 21st century.

      That being said, I hope they keep these new uniforms for a very very long time. I can't afford to keep replacing my Blue Jays gear!

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