This may only be the start of bad news for Fanatics, Nike and MLB uniforms

In case y’all may have missed this due to not being interested in the minutiae of baseball uniform details, nearly every single MLB team will have a slightly altered look to their uniforms this season. The new look is mostly due to the fact that all of the on-field jerseys are switching over to the new Nike Vapor Template. With that being said, there’s an important caveat to remember when it comes to that last part: While it is the Nike Vapor Template, the uniforms themselves are reportedly being produced with the Nike license by Fanatics.

Yes, that Fanatics. The company that’s managed to take over nearly all of the Fan Shops that you can think of while simultaneously becoming quite infamous for the quality (or lack therof) of their products has now been tasked with producing the gear for an entire sports league. Today, we got a reminder of what MLB is going to look like from a visual aesthetic standpoint with Fanatics producing everything when St. Louis Cardinals beat writer Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat posted this tweet showing off Miles Mikolas’ jersey.

What a way to start the new era! That wasn’t the end of it either, as this side-by-side comparison of the old and new look for the Seattle Mariners really drove home just how much of a step back that we’re taking here with Fanatics ramping up their production responsibilities.

We also got a tiny bit of a sneak peek as to what this is going to look like for the Braves, as noted Braves fan Dayton Headlee posted this clip of a photoshoot that Ronald Acuña Jr. took while wearing the new template.

Now, I fully understand that this is probably not going to bother a lot of y’all. I know there’s a significant amount of fans out there who would be happy with their favorite sports team wearing burlap sacks with the city’s name scribbled onto the front of the sacks if it also coincided with the team winning games.

With that being said, I am not talking to y’all — this is for the uniform nerds. This is for the ones who live for City Connect unveilings and teams like the Miami Marlins making small but impactful tweaks to their uniforms. This is for the ones who will surely notice that those iconic and clean white Dodgers home uniforms won’t be as white this season. This is for the ones who are still confused as to why the Braves wear still all-navy caps on the road when they got rid of the all-navy uniforms a few years ago.

Atlanta, I am begging you to bring back the red brims with the road gray uniforms.
Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to get to the crux of the whole thing: This is a hot mess. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch corroborated the report that the players are already unhappy with the new stuff, the fans are noticing a clear drop-off in quality and I feel very confident in saying that this likely won’t be the last time we hear complaints about how Fanatics are handling things in this role — and keep in mind that it’s only February. While that does bring about the idea that there could be hope that Fanatics and Nike could get their stuff together by the time the regular season rolls around, Fanatics’ track record doesn’t exactly inspire confidence going forward.

Putting out cheap products for high prices while being made with a lack of care and no way to last past a wash or two has been Fanatics’ modus operandi for a while now. It’s why there’s a Twitter account with over 14 thousand followers that’s dedicated to showing just how much they’ve been dropping the ball with their merchandise. It’s why NHL fans are actively dreading the idea of Fanatics taking over uniform production for their league as well. Fanatics as a brand just really doesn’t inspire any type of confidence in quality, which makes it less of a surprise that we’re seeing the criticism and issues that we’re seeing right now.

I’m saying all of this to say that it really, really won’t be shocking if we see more uniform gaffes than usual this season. It genuinely won’t be surprising if we see stuff like team names and player names misspelled, numbers peeling off, random inconsistencies between templates and even stuff like buttons not working properly. It’s all on the table and it’s all the fault of Fanatics for “living up” to their expectations and it’s Nike’s fault for trusting them. While there’s still time for this to work out, the early signs aren’t exactly encouraging.

Fortunately for Braves fans, Atlanta did acquire a player who is known to have strong and maybe even extreme views on uniform design so if Atlanta’s uniforms fail to pass the smell test then the problem will be dealt with — maybe it won’t be done in the most graceful manner but it’ll get done! In all seriousness, you’d have to imagine that the negative attention should drive Fanatics and/or Nike to act so that things could get better in the future. That’s a possibility, with the other possibility being that they’ll just keep on shoveling crap for us to eat up while paying premium prices for the ‘privilege’ to do so. It seems like the latter possibility is how the tide has been turning in all facets of life but that’s another topic for another website on another day.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox

The hero that Braves fans didn’t know they needed, until now.

I guess the best advice that I can give you right now (if you care about this sort of thing) is that if you can find any of the old jerseys, buy them while you still can. The quality of MLB jerseys appears to be set to take a nosedive — even if you’re willing to pony up to pay higher prices for the Premier Elite jerseys that the players will be wearing. For now, it’s time to get used to having cuff stripes instead of sleeve stripes and various script logos looking stranger than ever. It’s weird but baseball is weird and life’s weird nowadays so I guess that’s all there is to it?

This post was originally published on SBNation

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