Big League Stew - MLB

The top two BLStewards debate a topic in the news. Today it's the Pirates' recent decision to abandon their classic sleeveless look in 2009. 

'Duk: Well, Deebo, the Pirates rolled out their new uniforms at their FanFest over the weekend and the big surprise — apart from these ultra-sweet thirds featuring a big Pirates 'P' — is that Pittsburgh is mostly putting its traditional sleeveless look in mothballs. They'll wear a special pinstriped sleeveless jersey on home Sundays, but both their regular home and away uniforms will require more arm material. This is a somewhat controversial topic in Stillertown, but I happen to like the move to a future featuring sleeves and wonder why it took so long to class up the joint. What say you?

DB: Kevin, you ignorant slut! The reintroduction of the vests in 2001 is the only good thing that's happened to the Pirates in the past 30 years. You know it, I know it and Willie Stargell knows it. The Pirates have a "vest" tradition going back to Bill Mazeroski and, on top of that, the vests looked good. One of the best uniforms in the majors. Some teams just have vests for marketing purposes, or maybe it's because they can't think of anything better to do with their uniforms. The Pirates prove this point backward by ditching the vests for boring sleeves. What do the sleeves offer, really?

'Duk: Well, I'd say you should ask the players who just wear sleeves under the vest anyway, but you're right about the Pirates having a stories history of sleeveless jerseys. In 1957, they became the second MLB team to adopt them (the Reds were the first) and I always assumed they donned the look to help most Pittsburgh natives feel better about their own sartorial situations.

Still, I contend that the only true sleeveless sports should be basketball, distance running and NASCAR and I don't think there's a reason for baseball players to go sans sleeves anymore. Most of today's players wear their jerseys too baggy, which ruins the look. Also, with the advances in fabric technology, the sleeveless shirt no longer serves a useful purpose (ie: staying cool during an August day game in St. Louis).

DB: I like the phrase "fabric technology" but I had to go look up "sartorial" even though, in the context of this conversation, I understood you. 

I don't think the baggy nature of the uniforms ruins any look. That, too, reminds us of days gone by. Baggy uniforms and big socks. You don't want everything tight, like in the 1970s. Speaking of which, you mentioned how you like the new/old "P" the Pirates are bringing out with their black uniforms. If the Pirates were going to add another cap, why not bring back the We Are Fam-i-ly striped caps of the Tekulve era? Folks would have jumped at those and the players would have liked 'em too. The Pirates: Never quite grasping what it is they have going for themselves.

'Duk: You should have known what "sartorial" meant, Mr. Brown, if only because guys like me always use it so we can appear smarter than we really are. It's funny. I'm with you on the return of the ol' striped pillbox, but against you on the sleeveless jersey look for ALL teams (the Reds, White Sox, Rockies, etc.) Call it selective nostalgia, I suppose. When I think of sleeveless jerseys, I think of guys like Roger Maris and Ted Kluszewski (right), muscle-bound sluggers who chose the bare-armed route over the "Tom Kleinschmidt." There's no way that Freddy Sanchez or Troy Tulowitzki are going to top them, so why even try?

DB: Tom Kleinschmidt! You can't use DePaul basketball against an alum like me! Also, you sound like Dana Carvey's old man on Weekend Update. "Roger Maris and Ted Kluszewski showed their big guns and that's the way we liked it!." The truth is that some teams can pull off sleeveless, some don't. The White Sox, who inherit Big Klu's mantel (but not his mickey), simply look classy in their pinstriped vests. The Pirates, who only could hope to LOOK good in these intervening non-Van Slyke years, had a good look and they BLEW IT. The Rockies, being new, had no particular uniform tradition but should hope to start one with their "spaceman" black sleeveless alternates. Not Dr. Leo Spaceman, either. The Rox's futuristic-looking uniforms that show you don't have to look retro and pull off the sleeves at the same time. If we were to leave things up to you, Duck, then we would be stuck in uniform stasis forever. No looking back, no looking ahead. Just the same old crap with sleeves. Proud of yourself?

'Duk: Look, all I'm saying is that given the choice between sleeves and no sleeves, I'm going to pick the option that won't require me to purchase another round of black undershirts. In these tight financial times, perhaps that's the real driving force behind Pittsburgh's small-market decision. I'll let you have the last word.

DB: Black undershirts are what make the economy go, Kevin. If the Pirates are really interested in saving money, they ought to start by producing jerseys without sleeves and use the extra money left over from the extra material to sign Adam Dunn. Free the sleeves! Free the sleeves! Free the sleeves!

Have a debate topic for 'Duk and DB? Email it to bigleaguestew AT yahoo com. 

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