Those who know me in real life will be the first to tell you I am anything but a fashion diva. It takes a lot to get me out of jeans and three-quarter sleeved shirts. However, I do not have to be on television every single night, whereas our stars of the baseball world do. Therefore, as a public service, I’ve provided this handy fashion guide to keep our boys of summer looking their best (And if you're new here, trust me, this guide used to be a lot shorter. It seems to have grown exponentially over the years as I add stuff but rarely remove anything).
A. This is the point that creates the biggest bone of contention for me, as many of you have learned the hard way over the past couple years. Sometimes I think they ought to just go back to those stirrups and “sanitary hose” (God, I really hate that term; it sounds like some sort of feminine hygiene product), cuz that didn’t look good on anybody, so I would have no basis for criticism (though how they managed to keep the stirrup in their shoes is a complete mystery to me, cuz I wore stirrup pants back when they were popular in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s and I could never do it). At any rate, there’s a lot of people that go around arguing that the high socks-look (actually, I’m pretty sure that most guys have their socks pulled all the way up regardless, so “high pants” would be a more accurate term, but I digress) is more traditional and therefore everyone should wear their pants that way. It may be the more traditional look, but in reality, it’s a tricky look to pull off, and you have to have the right body for it. Curtis Granderson, Brandon Inge, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ichiro Suzuki are four guys who can pull off the look. It’s difficult to explain what the “right body” is, but in general, guys who look good with the high socks are of slightly-above-average height (usually around 5’11” to 6’1”) and slender but not skinny. However, the most important factor is that his body is in proportion (i.e. legs/arms not too long or short, etc). I cannot stress this enough. Your body MUST be in proportion, otherwise the high socks will accentuate and exaggerate whatever part of your body is out of proportion. If you are fat (Carlos Silva), the high socks will make you look fatter. If you have cartoonishly long legs (Andrew Miller), the high socks will make your legs look even longer. If most of your build is concentrated in your chest/shoulders and your legs are just a tad too short (Pudge Rodriguez), the optical illusion created by the color differential of the high socks against the lighter-colored uniform will cause the eye to attempt to fit the same amount of mass into less space, and as a result, you will look rather boxy (You can tell I REALLY thought about that one). If you have calves that are the same width as your thighs (Chris Shelton), the high socks will remove all semblance of definition and your legs will look like two-by-fours or somehting. I think you get the point by now. Pudge used to drive me crazy whenever he did it (mostly because I could NOT figure out the pattern, which is enough to drive me nuts regardless of appearance). Miguel Cabrera is now my prime target. Prior to his arrival with the Tigers, the high socks were an infrequent (but largely predictable) occurrence. Now it’s become more common (though less prevalent in 2009), and, from what I can tell, totally random (which, as I said, really drives me crazy; seriously, if I could figure out the reasoning, I would be so much more at peace with this issue). And Cabrera’s just too big for that look (there are other problems with it as well, which I shall get to in due course).
- There are, however, a couple loopholes that certain (keyword “certain”) guys can use to cheat the proportion rule. The first is if their pants are really baggy. I don’t have an everyday example to back this up, but this loophole gets illustrated terrifically during Negro Leagues Weekend when the Tigers wear the old Detroit Stars uniform. That uniform’s pants are so baggy that those who choose to wear the pants long don’t look quite right, whereas guys like Verlander and Magglio look fine (well, “fine” given the fact that pretty much no one looks spectacular in those uniforms).
- The other loophole is the “alternate” solid color jersey that many teams possess. For some reason, it really cuts down on the “color differential” between the dark-colored socks and light-colored uniforms that I think is at the root of the proportion problem. Dontrelle Willis (who has a very short torso and comparatively long legs) is a good illustration of this. However, the Tigers do not have alternate jerseys, so this loophole becomes rather moot for most of my discussions.
- Bear in mind that these loopholes only work for SOME guys. There are many more guys for which these loopholes will do absolutely nothing and who will look terrible with the high socks no matter what. The Tigers’ Macay McBride and the Marlins’ Taylor Tankersley (Is he still with the Marlins?) are prime examples. As far as the Astros’ Hunter Pence is concerned, well, he’s just creepy-looking with the high socks and I don’t know why.
- I am a bit more lenient if everyone on the team is wearing the high socks as some sort of kumbaya rally tactic to get out of a losing streak. The Tigers briefly did this a couple years ago. It was funny at the time (I think it piqued my curiosity more than anything else), but I get the feeling that, had it continued for more than two games, it would’ve become old after about one turn through the rotation.
B. If your team’s socks are BRIGHT red (a la the Angels or Red Sox), BRIGHT blue (a la the Cubs, Rangers, or Royals) or striped (a la the Cardinals), under no circumstances will the high socks look good on anybody. Please avoid wearing them.
C. Black socks are kind of strange. With some teams, like the Orioles and the Astros, the socks are like the great gaping void of darkness, so dark that light cannot escape from it (hmmm…they must be made out of this material). I half expect all surrounding matter to be sucked into this void of blackness. Needless to say, this is very distracting, and I would recommend avoiding this problem altogether if you play for one of these teams. On the other hand, some teams, such as the Marlins, have black socks that look perfectly fine and those players are perfectly free to show ‘em off provided they conform to the other rules in this guide.
- Oddly enough, the Yankees have dark blue socks (I think), and yet A-Rod exhibits the “great gaping void of darkness” phenomenon just the same. I’m not sure what to make of that, because I think he would have the body for it if not for the fact that his butt’s just a little too big. Damn superstitious bastards. Of course, it’d probably help matters even more if he didn’t look like he was sucking on a lemon every time he’s in the batter’s box. The “gaping void of darkness” also seems to occur with Magglio, unless the broadcast is in HD (and you don’t realize until then just how thick Magglio’s legs are).
D. Bald white guys should never wear the high socks. Ever.
E. Socks with logos on them = Very, very bad. I’m looking at you, Miguel Cabrera.
F. Catchers in general should not wear the high socks. Perhaps the worst-looking catcher with this look is Johnny Estrada, formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers (I have no idea where he is now). An enormous upper body coupled with tiny-but-round calves makes for a disastrous combination (he looked especially bad in the Verlander no-hitter).
G. If you do wear the high socks, please make sure your pantlegs are even with one another. This is something else that Miguel Cabrera frequently drives me nuts with. His pantlegs are almost never even and it seems like one is always on the verge of falling down (Perhaps he should take the hint, but I digress; admittedly, he has gotten better at this). Now, I’ve never worn a baseball uniform, nor have I been around someone in a baseball uniform, so it’s a complete mystery to me as to how players get their pantlegs to stay up in the first place (If anyone could enlighten me, I’d be most grateful). But guys like Brandon Inge can do it and get their pantlegs even the whole time. At the very least, could someone show Cabrera how to do it properly? Uneven pantlegs are even more annoying on pitchers, because then I have to look at it for the entire inning.
II. Hats/Batting Helmets
A. Please try to keep your hat clean (i.e. no white fingerprints all over the bill).
B. In the same vein, please do not lather your batting helmet in pine tar. It looks really bad. If it’s a dark helmet, it looks rusty. If it’s a brightly-colored helmet, it looks like someone set it on fire. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Tigers, who all appear to have nice, shiny helmets. Good job, boys.
C. I suppose some comment about the “Great Gazoo” helmets is in order here. They’re supposed to protect against concussions. But boy, are they silly-looking.
A. I know this look isn’t terribly popular, but I like shoes with lots of white or gray in them. I’m not necessarily talking about all-white shoes like the ones the Oakland Athletics wear (although they aren’t bad either). I’m talking about shoes that are black but have lots of white or gray in the design. This could also be considered a loophole to allow some guys to get around the high-sock-proportion rule. It also helped A-Rod for the brief time that he wore them.
B. If you insist on wearing Adidas brand spikes, please wear them with long pants and no shin guard. If you wear Adidas spikes with a shin guard, it looks like you’re wearing spats. If you have the high socks, it looks like you’re wearing those “athletic” flip-flops (for lack of a better term) with black socks, which was a look that was quite popular with the jocks both when I was in middle school and when I was in high school. I didn’t like the look then, and I still don’t like it.
IV. Batting Gloves
A. This isn’t a real biggie with me, but I’m not all that fond of all-white batting gloves. I don’t know. It’s just a little too reminiscent of Mickey Mouse for my taste. But I’m not gonna make a huge deal out of it.
V. Protective Gear
A. Please do not wear white shin guards. They look okay with the home uniform, but against the gray road pants…um, no.
B. I really can’t explain this one, but for some reason, I really like the contrast created by the straps of the catcher’s shin guards against the white pants. I don’t know why, and I realize it’s quite bizarre. But for some reason, it’s just one of life’s simple pleasures for me (and please note that this is not a sexual thing). However, the pants have gotta be long for it to work (since I need to see both the upper and lower straps), the straps have to be dark, and the shin guards can’t have a whole lot of additional equipment (i.e. “Knee-Saver” pads or that sort of thing). This isn’t necessarily a fashion rule, per se, but it’ll get you bonus points, especially if you’re not that tall a catcher.
C. I realize you guys have gotta protect your manhood, and I have no problem with that (After all, you wouldn't want to end up like Adrian Beltre). But please, get a cup that fits. It’s bad enough watching y’all spit every three seconds. I don’t want to have to see you adjusting your crotch whenever you run the bases.
D. Along those same lines, please do not prop your bat up against the protective cup at any time. I’m not even gonna get into the Freudian implications.
E. If you wear the old-style catcher’s mask, don’t flip the helmet around so that the bill is facing forward when you go out to greet your pitcher at the end of the game. It looks wrong. The only catcher I know of who can get away with this look is Miguel Olivo.
A. There are a lot of sportscasters who disapprove of all the bling-bling. I don’t mind it so much as long as it’s not too gaudy or distracting (and I have no idea how Carlos Guillen isn’t absolutely weighed down by those huge crosses he wears).
B. This is another one that’s more “bonus point” than “rule,” but I like it when the guys wear bracelets.
Whew! That was a long one, and I'm sorry if the organization is confusing, but Blogger sucks and won't let me keep Microsoft Word formatting. By the way, I hope you appreciated this because getting this thing to post took forever. Anyways, I'll have my season preview sometime next week (probably after the roster is sorted out), and in the meantime, I'll chime in with some spring training thoughts once or twice before then.