Saturday, September 22, 2012

Looking Forward into The Past

Some may love them, some may hate them, but all must acknowledge them; throwback uniforms. They are an undeniable feature of sports Americana. Certain teams choose to don uniforms from their heyday, others prefer to bring back looks from darker days and brighter colors, and some just simply do what they want. That being said, feast your eyes on the Tampa Bay Rays 2012 "Throwback Cap". 

The fore mentioned "Throwback Cap" is in quotes for a good reason. The club decided to represent an era in sports-logo design history relevant to the 1970's, when in fact the franchise was still more than 20 years away from existence. Strange idea without a doubt, but still one with much potential. This is perhaps the wildest concept in Major League Baseball since the 1998 season, when the marketing geniuses over at league headquarters decided to attempt a "Turn Forward The Clock" uniform project. That venture was nothing short of a train wreck. They used colors with no presence of team history, at times no sleeves, and even vertically aligned nicknames. Now that all of that is once again fresh in your mind, I must say Tampa Bay has (big sigh) avoided the root-canal-like pain of it. 

As a matter of fact, some would say the Rays did a pretty damn good job with it. HERE is what the total package looked like, as worn by team manager Joe Maddon. After digesting that, it is probably fair to say some of it looks questionable; but hey, so were the 70's. Luckily, they were nice enough to stick to the teams actual current color scheme. Conveniently, the powder blue does lend it self back to the intended era. The differentiation in sleeve and body color of the uniform, along with the cap's crown panels, really brings back memories from certain looks of the past. The only thing that seems off, however, is the choice in color of the pants. I understand the 70's were a time of pastel colors, however, along with the navy blue top, it makes the whole look seem "top-heavy" to me. But hey, if you take a peek at other teams during the decade, they didn't shy away from the concept either. Maybe it's something you just have to get used to. 

Going back to the cap, and cap alone, take a look at the style and font chosen on the letter mark and logo. I get the concept of the yellow circle with black lines dividing it into proverbial slices. It definitely references the roof of Tropicana Field, where the Rays play their home games, seen HERE. Could it also be representing a simplistic depiction of the sun and it's "Rays"? Perhaps. Either way, well done. The soft cloud-like font of the "T" and "B" looks similar to the current Tennessee Smokies 70's inspired home cap.

In review, the Tampa Bay Rays came pretty close to hitting the nail on the head with this unique project. It's certainly period correct, reminiscent of simpler times in the game we call America's Pastime, and an inspiration for teams that may attempt this in the future. I can think of a few who would entertain it off the bat. How about the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Miami Marlins with their vibrant colors, or even the Washington Nationals? A whole lot of interesting thoughts to ponder about throughout a relaxing weekend. 

The cap above was purchased at the New Era Cap Flagship Store: Miami. I'm sure it can been found in stores near you, as it is indeed different and interesting. It features two powder blue front panels, four navy blue panels, and a navy blue brim. The logo on front is a navy "T" and "B" for Tampa Bay, with a yellow circle divided into 12 slices. 

Love it or hate it, it certainly is worth admiring for a minute. Good job, Rays. Can't wait to see who tries it next.