The Miami Marlins have new uniforms, and we need to grade them. I’m already mad about them replacing their home-run sculpture in center field, so this should be a good outlet for my anger.
Except, one of these new uniforms is absolutely timeless and perfect. I’m mad at how good it is, instead.
But first, we need to back up. After removing the sculpture, I figured the new owners of the Miami Marlins wanted to turn the franchise into a Cheesecake Factory: pleasant, completely non-confrontational, and similar to the baseball-consumption experience found in other baseball-distribution centers around the country. It’s like they looked at the home of the Nationals, Nationals Park — affectionately referred to as “Nationals Park” by the locals — and turned teal in envy. “This is what a ballpark should be,” they thought. “A structure with walls and grass in the middle and the vibrancy of a packing peanut!”
The Marlins are going to replace the sculpture with more room for fans. There will be standing-room-only seating that will be cheaper for the baseball-curious, and there certainly is wisdom in that. Get fans in on the cheap and hope they’ll stick around when they have the discretionary income to do so. It’s at least a plan!
Still, the sculpture defined a ballpark that is in now danger of being entirely sterile. I’ll miss that.
HOWEVER, we’re here to talk about the Marlins’ new uniforms and grade them. You can skip the history lesson if you want to get to the grades below, but it’s helpful to review the old uniforms quickly, just to get an idea of how far they’ve come. If you’ll remember, the first iterations were a ghastly batch that looked like someone melted down episodes of 90210 and used them to dye fabric.
In 20 years, the Marlins will wear these uniforms in a throwback promotion, and all of the kids will think they’re neat, just like a lot of us do for the hideous-great Astros and Padres uniforms from the ‘70s. We’ll be the ones who are stodgy and wrong. So luxuriate in the present, when those uniforms are still awful.
They got worse. These pinstripes were never okay with that jersey:
I miss the D-Train so very much, but that picture still makes me mad. That’s an alternate uniform, but it’s not like the regular one was any better. The logo was from a Saturday morning cartoon that was canceled when the merchandise didn’t sell, and did we mention the pants and jersey look awful together?
The biggest problem, though, might have been the logo, which emphasized the “F” in “Florida.” This was a doubling-down on the bizarre decision to name the team after the state instead of the large, vibrant city they played in. This was before the Rays existed, sure, but when you’re playing in one of the most unique metropolitan areas in the country, make sure everyone is aware of it.
They did for the next iteration, which smartly rebranded the team after the city:
When that logo was revealed I might have described it as “Tron light cycles having an orgy,” and the rest of the SB Nation family joined in with the jokes, but time made the uniforms familiar and sensible and unique. I liked those unis. The orange alternates were A BIT MUCH, but both the home whites and road grays were strong.
The new logo is also strong:
It is, perhaps, a little busy with the seams coming out of the marlin’s midsection, but the colors are nice. I would have preferred something even more bold and daring, with the sliders nudged a little more pink-ward, but this no mistaking which team is going with this color scheme. This is not a uniform that could work in Denver or St. Louis, and that’s the point.
As for the uniforms, they’re a mixed bag, but I’ll take the bad with the good.
The worst - black alternate jersey
In a vacuum, they’re harmless, but my stars do they look like Mets Alternates But Neon.
Unless this is just an homage to Marlins great Mike Piazza, in which case, carry on. As is, though, they are boring, at best, and derivative, at worst.
The pretty good — blue alternate jersey
I’m not as enamored of these jerseys as Baseball Twitter seems to be, but they do pop with the new colors of the logo. I’m sure these will look sharp on the field.
My biggest complaint is with the alternate logo. I’m not sure they really knew what to do with the tail of the marlin, and the ended up making it look like an angry mosquito.
That’s not regionally inappropriate, I guess.
The Great — standard home and away jerseys
I absolutely adore these.
So you’re a graphic designer who wants to emphasize the unique aesthetic qualities of Miami, without going completely avant-garde and designing something that looks like a Turn Ahead The Clock Night uniform? How do you accomplish that? How do you blend the new and vibrant with the traditionally stuffy baseball mindset?
Like this. The logo is a classic script, something that makes it look like the Marlins have been around since ‘32 and this was always their uniform. The accented colors give it just enough kick, though, to make it a completely unique uniform experience. Again, this isn’t something that can exist in San Diego or Seattle. Bah gawd, those are Marlins colors, but don’t you forget it.
It’s just a very teensy dash of Marlins colors to remind us, mind you, but that’s fine. Less is more.
It’s like wearing a Motörhead necktie to a wedding with a nice suit. You want to be respectful of tradition, but you also want to remind everyone that you aren’t adverse to a little rockin’ or rollin’. It’s a compromise that errs on the side of traditional, but still gives you that one very important piece of flair.
Maybe I was wrong with the Cheesecake Factory dig. Maybe they want to be a Ruth’s Chris that features local produce? Regardless, these might be my favorite uniforms in the majors, but I’ll calm down before making a definitive proclamation.
Still, it’s not too early to grade:
Grade - A+
Considering that the home whites and road grays will be the default, it’s hard to nitpick too much about the alternates. The Marlins took a strong uniform and made it much better. That was hard to do. For the first time in the Derek Jeter Era, I’m riding with the Marlins’ vision and loving it.
That script. That script!
I remember when the Marlins won their first World Series with that uniform, back in ‘57. You can send me links to evidence that I’m mistaken, but it’s 2018, so I won’t read or trust your evidence. It was a memorable World Series, and that was the first time the world fell in love with these. They’re so classic. Memories like that help make it so.