"Holy Toledo!"

October 18, 2007

“The Uniform” – Manny vs. Mays

Filed under: Baseball — Bill @ 10:18 pm

Old guys will argue till the Social Security payments come in that today’s athletes are nothing like the players of the good old days. One doesn’t need to witness a “clear & cream” influenced off-field check-swing HR to agree.

Tonight I had the displeasure of witnessing an at bat of the newest hammering hulk Manny Ramirez. As he strode towards home plate making who knows how many thousands of dollars per step I couldn’t help but notice one thing…

His uniform.

Suddenly thoughts of a different number 24 emerged in my head, I envisioned Willie Mays. Ahhh yes, now there was a man who knew how to wear the uniform.

Starting at the top. Manny’s batting helmet, which looks far too small on his over-ripe pumpkin is so disgustingly filthy with pine tar that the logo letter “B” is barely distinguishable. Miss Manners wouldn’t touch that helmet with your worst gloves. Willie’s helmet always looked new because it usually was. The orange “SF” stood out brightly against the shiny black surface. He took pride in keeping it that way.

Under Manny’s mini-helmet is by far the worst “do” we have seen in the post-season since “Jesus Damon” (who ironically also played for Bean Town). What separates Manny from Jesus Damon (thus giving Manny the official “Bad Hair Award”) is that Manny actually went to the trouble of paying for those dreds. Damon obviously got his look for free.

Willie’s hair was always short & neat. The fact that most can’t accurately describe Willie’s do speaks for itself, it fit in quietly into his game. Even Oscar Gamble’s 1970’s big hair had style, I’m not sure how to describe that mop Manny wears.

It gets rougher from here on out.

The jersey. The number 24 on their back is the only semblance of commonality. Willie’s was tight fitting, but not too tight, over his perfectly proportionate baseball body, the body one would picture when you think of an athlete. The jersey tucked neatly into his waist hidden under a stylish looking black belt woven into his pants. GQ would say “it was taught enough for style, yet room enough to run.”

Then there is Manny. His jersey is about two and a half sizes too big. The good news is that it hides his obvious big gut which protrudes over what one assumes is a belt. Can you name the color of that belt if it does exist? The sleeves hang down far too long in a wrinkled mess, making his arms look too short for his ballooning body. They could sell advertising around the neck & chest area of his undershirt. Can’t the Red Sox afford a few more buttons?

At least there is no cross hanging from his neck or earlobe (are you listening Barry?).

Manny’s pants are the worst yet (hard to imagine I know). They could fit two Ruth’s in one (or four Doublemint twins!). Baggy, more wrinkled than an old man’s skin, hanging loosely into the dirt, seeming to have no direction. Tom Hanks’ pants in the movie Big comes to mind. Stirrups? Manny don’t do no stinking stirrups. One can only assume he is wearing shoes because no toes seem apparent. If he has a shoe contract they’re pissed.

Willie on the other hand demonstrated the classic baseball pants & stirrup look. Not too high into Zito-like stratosphere, yet not low enough to make one wonder if stirrups even existed. His pants were firm in the thigh to show off the muscle, yet loose enough to allow a comfortable slide into home plate.

Willie’s uniform was neat and properly fitting, his body fit the wool like your hand fit into your favorite old baseball glove. Manny looks like a sack of oats tied in the middle.

Willie Mays had the nattily attired look of the classic baseball player. The NBA used the likeness of Jerry West in their logo. Major League Baseball could do the same with a likeness of Willie. Manny is safe from ever worrying about such stylistic pressure.

Nobody can argue that Manny Ramirez is one of the best baseball players of his era, but one doesn’t have to look very far to measure his class. Today’s messy millionaires could learn a thing or too from Willie Mays about how to properly wear the uniform.

Perhaps they take it all for granted. Perhaps they make too much money to care. Perhaps those old school dudes just may have a point.

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1 Comment »

  1. … also, te likeness on the MLB logo is that of “Charmin'” Harmon Killebrew, former A’s TV announcer and a man with some pop in his bat and some lead in his glove.

    Comment by Ralph Zig Tyko — October 19, 2007 @ 1:54 pm


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