It would appear Major League Baseball is sending out its fair share of warning letters for uniform violations these days.
The “fun police,” as annoyed fans have dubbed them, most notably took Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger to task over some colorful cleats he sported during a game on May 1. Clevinger posted the warning letter he received from the commissioner’s office on Twitter on Friday.
On Saturday, Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs shared a similar letter he received warning him to stop wearing all black cleats that he says have been part of his uniform for two years.
Zobrist’s Instagram post features a shot of the letter, the cleats in question, and a fiery response to the league’s sudden interest in cracking down on cleats they’ve seemingly had no issue with in the past.
Dear @mlb, I still like you but this is rediculous. For the last two years, I have worn black spikes exclusively at Wrigley Field for Day games to pay homage to the history of our great game, and now I am being told I will be fined and disciplined if I continue to wear them. When I was a kid, I was inspired by highlights of the greats such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial in the 1950s-60s and was captured by the old uniforms and all black cleats with flaps. @newbalancebaseball made a kid’s dream come true by making some all black spikes with the special tongue as well as the “Benny the Jet” @pf_flyers cleats. I am curious as to why @mlb is spending time and money enforcing this now when they haven’t done it previously in the last year and beyond. I have heard nothing but compliments from fans that enjoy the “old school” look. Maybe there is some kid out there that will be inspired to look more into the history of the game by the “flexibility” that I prefer in the color of my shoes. Sincerely, Ben Zobrist
A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on May 12, 2018 at 10:02am PDT
Like Clevinger’s Bohemian-inspired cleats that included elephant and flower-petal designs, Zobrist’s cleats seem pretty harmless. In fact, when Zobrist explains the meaning they have to him, it seems difficult to justify the league dictating a change.
The league is doing so anyway.
According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, MLB claims Zobrist violated the rule which requires at least 51 percent “of the exterior of each player’s shoes to match the club’s designated primary shoe color.”
The league also released the following statement to ESPN in response to Zobrist’s complaint.
“We have shoe regulations that were negotiated with the union in the last round of bargaining. If players have complaints about the regulations, they should contact their union which negotiated them. We have informed the union that we are prepared to negotiate rules providing players with more flexibility, and that issue is currently being discussed as part of a larger discussion about apparel and equipment.”
Worth noting, the letter specifically claims Zobrist broke the rule on May 2 against the Rockies. Zobrist still insists he’s been wearing them during home games for two years.
The timing of all this is quite interesting. There’s obviously been a call from somewhere to take a closer look at what the players are wearing. One would assume that order is coming directly from commissioner Rob Manfred himself. But why now?
Apparently the players didn’t get much warning ahead of time that a crackdown was coming. Clevinger and Zobrist seemed to be both taken aback and annoyed by the warning letters they received. We’re guessing they’re not alone, so it will be interesting to see if other players decide to speak out and whether it becomes a union issue.
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