Saturday, December 31, 2011

West Coast Pop

For the last post of the 2011 calendar year, The Fitted Diaries is featuring a San Diego State University Aztecs inspired New Era 59/50. SDSU was founded in 1897, and is the oldest higher-education facility in the San Diego, California area. The Aztecs field 17 varsity teams in NCAA Division 1 athletics. The schools' more prominent programs are their football, baseball, softball, and men's and women's basketball teams. 

To most, the team with the most national familiarity is likely the schools baseball program. Over the years, the baseball program has helped nurture many future professional ball players. One of which, Tony Gwynn, has the distinction of being perhaps the greatest Aztec of all time. Gwynn, or "Mr. Padre" as many refer to him, was perhaps the first to put the program on the map. Gwynn played for San Diego State from 1979 to 1982, where he announced his presence as a true baseball talent claiming many team records. He even performed well enough to be recognized as an NCAA All-American in his final two seasons. Another interesting facet of Gwynn's athletic career, which many aren't aware of, is that he was also a point guard on the schools basketball team throughout his 4 year Aztec career. To this day, he remains as the only athlete in the history of the Western Athletic Conference to be recognized as an All-Conference performer in multiple sports. Gwynn, who is currently the baseball coach for the Aztecs, is in his eighth season at the helm of the program. He has coached many talented athletes, the most prominent of which is starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg. 

Strasburg, a flame throwing right hander with un-godly breaking pitches, played under Gwynn for a three season span from 2007-2009. Strasburg began opening eyes his sophomore year, pitching to a record of 8-3. That season, Strasburg pitched to a minuscule ERA of 1.58 while striking out 134 batters in a mere 98 1/3 innings. In his third, and final season as an Aztec, Strasburg did the impossible; he improved: 13-1, 1.32 ERA, 195 K, 109 IP. He was the first overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft, selected by the Washington Nationals. In 2010, Strasburg struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirate batters in his first major league start.. He suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow later that year, and is currently on his way back to the majors following surgery. 

Other notable Aztecs to play in the schools baseball program are former major leaguers: Tony Clark, Travis Lee, Bud Black, Royce Ring, Bobby Meacham, Greg Nettles, Mark Grace, Aaron Harang and Tony Gwynn Jr. 

The Aztecs play their home games at (you guessed it) Tony Gwynn Stadium. The 3,000 seat ballpark has been home to the schools baseball games since the 1997 athletic season. 

The cap featured above has a black brim and scarlet crown. On the front of the cap there is an illustration of an Aztec warrior, wearing a yellow and red head-dress. On the back the cap features the word "Aztecs" in a black, cursive font. Unfortunately for all of those interested out there, the cap is indeed sold out. My best suggestion would be to check on Ebay or perhaps the schools' athletics website HERE

To all, have a safe and happy new year. I appreciate the readers, so please, if you drink tonight DO NOT DRIVE. Until next time, over and out from TFD.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Ray of Hope for a Former Champion

The official countdown for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training is down to a mere 51 days. What does this mean? Well, for starters it means BASEBALL IS ALMOST HERE. Additionally, it means a new era of South Beach Baseball is about to dawn for the Miami Marlins.

The cap above is the new primary on-field cap for the re-branded Miami Marlins of the National League. Yes, what you see above is most certainly a payment of homage to the glory days of Miami Vice and the era that was the 80's. Other than that, it speaks volumes to the new image of what the club is attempting to project; a groundbreaking, exciting, and eye catching product. With the bright blues, oranges, and yellows which seemingly pop off of this new logo. The ball club of the future has arrived, and the one of the past is gone for good.

The Marlins franchise will be beginning its' twentieth season in South Florida, but will compete in its' first with a place to truly call home. For the first 19 seasons of their existence, they played in what is currently known as Sun Life Stadium. Sun Life Stadium is more or less a football stadium, which the Miami Dolphins have called home since 1987. The place is cavernous, cold, and was usually 80% empty for Marlins games, which proved to be a hard field to play for any team with power alleys the size of Texas.

Now officially in Miami, the Marlins will christen there new home tentatively dubbed "Miami Ballpark" on Sunday, April 1st in the first of two scrimmages vs. the New York Yankees. With the overhaul of the organization, it seems as though ownership is trying to remove the tags placed on them by the public in the past. Accordingly, they have made efforts to put the "fire-sale" days behind them. With the additions of short-stop Jose Reyes, closer Heath Bell, and starter Mark Buehrle it appears as though they want to win early and often. This has to be a welcomed change in the eyes of the fans, knowing that they will have a team to root for which should be intact for quite some time.

When the club captured World Series titles in both the 1997 and 2003 seasons, the Miami community rallied around the team with more support than anyone could imagine. A new stadium, new image, and new roster can only lead to a greater fan base. Possibly the most important aspect of the new park is the retractable roof, which will definitely help out on those hot summer days. From my personal experience of attending a day game in the middle of July, some shade will be much appreciated.

The cap above features a black crown and brim, and has a capital "M" accented with orange, blue and yellow. Above is an orange and blue silhouette of a marlin, seemingly leaping off the logo. It represents more than a new beginning; it represents a new tradition of Miami Baseball.

I picked up this new release at Cap City, in West New York, New Jersey. You can find this fitted and the clubs alternate orange cap here, on the stores website:

Happy New Year, and happy shopping.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Footballers Renaissance

It goes without saying that soccer is by far the worlds most popular sport. The pastime of many nations has more than its fair share of stars, living and past, to call it's own. To name a few: Argentina has Maradona, France has Zidane, England has Beckham, and Brazil has Pele. All of these living legends have changed the face of their sport and country to an extent which they may never live to realize. One of these men however, has significantly effected yet another country over 4,500 miles from his home.

As most sports fans know, football caught on early in Europe and Africa. It then trickled into Asia and Australia, where it further deepened its foundation as an athletic power house. All was good and well in the land of the 90 minute game, until North America decided it was time to take a legitimate crack at establishing its own professional league in the late 1960's. This league, the North American Soccer League (NASL), opened it's offices in 1968. The NASL was founded as a merger of two previously unsuccessful and non-prosperous leagues established earlier in the decade. Arguably, the eventual face of the new NASL was the New York franchise which would shortly arrive one the scene. 

Following the first three seasons of play in the NASL, the New York Cosmos had arrived. The Cosmos, shortened from the Cosmopolitans, were named after the multicultural environment in which the clubs fan base thrived. Accordingly, the club drew many fans of all creeds, finding itself as one of the most successful franchises in the league, financially and performance wise. Before the club garnered the affection of the locals, upper management realized they needed a star to ascend the ranks of the league. Accordingly, they pursued the notable yet aging star of the Brazilian league, Pele. This acquisition in 1975 meant one thing, New York was now on the map as a soccer town. 

Although only appearing in barely over 60 games for the Cosmos, Pele had created a passion and more importantly a culture for American Soccer. With the additions of other stars such as Italian Giorgio Chinaglia and German Franz Beckenbauer, the Cosmos completed their time in the NASL winning league championships in 5 of the 14 seasons in which they competed. Soccer was certainly thriving in New York, however nationally it seemed as though things has taken a turn for the worst. The NASL seized operations following the 1984 season due to lack of financial support. 

After a decade of silence on the Western front, a new league would take form. The MLS began operations in 1993. Fans and franchises came and went year in and year out, as did the visiting stars of the world. Although making a serious effort, the new league faced adversity sticking as a popular aspect of North American culture. Fifteen-plus years into their existence, things have recently taken a promising turn for the league, as they now have a consistent ESPN game of the week contract, and have grown to nearly 20 clubs. The more notable news is that New York has been awarded a second franchise, in addition to the Red Bull who play in New Jersey. The newly resurrected Cosmos brand has thrown it's name into the proverbial hat of contention to be that second club, but no word has been given on the
leagues decision.

As you can see by the fitteds above, the area is clearly ambitious about the whispers we've all been hearing. I found these gems at Cap City, a hat store in West New York, New Jersey. It certainly has many of us amateur sports historians giddy, so to say. To this writer, the return of a legendary franchise such as the Cosmos would be an amazing feat to behold. It would be the most anticipated return of a professional sports club to the area, short of the hallucinated voyage back East of the Dodgers or Giants. 

Whether it materializes or doesn't, one thing is for certain. The city would certainly appreciate the fraternization of culture and creed once more. For an are where people are being killed over Nike Air Jordans, it would certainly be eye opening to see some unity.