April 20, 2010
UPDATE: Our little marketing lesson must have worked! MLB announced on Tuesday evening that it was making a rule chanee and Maddon will be allowed to wear his hoodie after all.
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Major League Baseball can't stop the Tampa Bay Rays from winning, but it can tell their trend-setting manager, Joe Maddon, what not to wear during games.
A league-wide ban reissued in a memo Friday reminded managers and coaches that they are only allowed to wear jerseys and outerwear that are approved by the league.
That means no Rays fleece hoodie as a trademark top layer for Maddon — the coolest manager in the majors who just doesn't want to be the coldest.
Say, when did the fashion police who extract the fun from the NFL also start regulating our national past time? What's next? No more big socks for Barry Zito, Juan Pierre and Brendan Ryan because all players must show the same amount of calf?
Besides, Maddon says, the hoodie is not some ratty old sweatshirt.
It's functional, and of fine quality.
"They've really cleaned them up," Maddon said. "There was a time where they first (made them), it was more of ... the quality was less. The quality has been raised, it's more of a shiny kind of material now that I know presents well. I've seen them on TV, it presents really well. I have no idea why this is happening."
He makes a strong case. But it's so typical. Someone such as Maddon espouses a little personal style — the unique glasses, the dyed-black hair last year, Elmer Fudd caps in the playoffs, biking to work — and corporate feels like it's gotta rein him in. Pretty soon, everyone will be wearing hoodies. It'll be anarchy!
Maddon is marketing these hoodies, just as Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria market their jerseys during games. How many hoodies have been sold based on Maddon pitching changes alone? (Indeed, not even the NFL will tell Patriots coach Bill Belichick to refrain from wearing his hoodie on the sidelines because the New England version accounts for about 50 percent of all NFL hoodie sales.)
Maddon continued to wear the fleece under his jersey this past weekend at Fenway Park, where the Rays swept Boston in a four-game series.
"I wore it under the coat because it was cold and I needed it to stay warm," said Maddon, who prefers the hoodie to the bulky coat.
Yeah, but being forced to wear a sweatshirt under a jersey? Awkward. Binding.
And not very stylish.
Maddon's going to play by the rules, but it sounds like he will petition to league to change its policy.
Be careful, Joe. Bud Selig might try to take your glasses next!
Does not conform! Does not conform! Exterminate! Exterminate!