Welcome back to BF&N Ash Day…
The MLB offseason is pure torture. Fans long for the return of baseball and the warmer weather that accompanies it. The winter crawls by as we eagerly count down the days until pitchers and catchers finally report. We have other sports to distract us of course, but they pale in comparison to the national pastime.
It’s not all bad. Whisper it quietly, but there are some aspects of the offseason you can enjoy.
The winter meetings. The “hot stove”. New uniform designs (hey Padres). Free agency rumours and speculation. They’re all engaging and fun to follow.
But I have something better, that wipes the floor with those: New signings being revealed at their press conferences.
Baseball has always enjoyed doing things a little differently. They unveil their new acquisitions in a distinctly different fashion than their competitors. Many would argue it’s not fashion at all.
Baseball players aren’t content to merely sit at the conference table and spill pleasantries for reporters. They’d never dream of dressing up in full kit like they do in football (soccer). They don’t even do what the NBA and NFL do, smiling for the media whilst holding their new team’s replica jersey, name and number adorned on the back.
No, MLB players take it one step further. They do it in style.
Looking resplendent in their finest suit, the player is helped out of their blazer by a nearby manager or GM. The player lifts their new jersey off the table and begins to button it over their crisp shirt and tie. They are instantly transformed and it’s a unique look you won’t see anywhere else – how many fans do you see at the ballpark with collared shirts sprouting from their replica jerseys? At first glance the whole look is unsettling, but your eyes soon adjust and quickly admire how the home whites shine in contrast to the genteel clothing beneath. Your newly minted millionaire looks great in your team’s colours, doesn’t he?
The player doesn’t stop there though, oh no. To complete the look, they’re handed the cap of their new ballclub. It’s the final touch and it’s perfect, straight off the New Era production line, totally unspoiled by sweat and dirt. They raise it to their head and fit it snugly with a wiggle of the brim, and now they smile wider as the cameras flash and staff applaud, like a king wearing their newly bestowed crown at their coronation.
And it’s wonderful, it’s a beautiful sight. It’s so baseball.
Other sports get it all wrong. Baseball combines formal fashion and athletic apparel in a marriage that just works. It’s a ritual of the offseason that deserves celebration and every time free agents are signed, I eagerly await their press conferences.
This winter, you can keep your Super Bowl and NBA Christmas Day schedule. I’ll have my beers and snacks prepared for when the Indians sign Gerrit Cole instead. You can’t accuse me of lacking ambition, that’s for sure.