Friday, December 12, 2008

What Do You Root For?



The Red Sox unveiled new hats and jerseys last night/this morning and my first thought was "so what." But soon I started hearing rumbling from my friends in Red Sox nation that they didn't like the change. The "B" on the hat is sacred and the red socks on the uniforms is cheesy, was what I heard from more than a few people.

I didn't really have a lot of time to think about it today, but it struck me when I was enjoying a beer o'clock conversation with my work colleague Derek.

In this day and age, the uniforms are what we root for... it's all we have left as fans. We long ago gave up the hope that a player would stay with the team for their entire career - free agency was the dagger in our heart there. So rooting for players is an annual affair, subdued by the revolving door also known as the "hot stove."

Team chemistry is annual roll of the dice, but those uniforms and hats... take 'em to the bank. We come to the Park year in and year out and feel an allegiance to a certain look, a certain color, a certain letter... quickly sewn onto a synthetic jersey somewhere in China. That's what being a fan has become.

So when Sox management has the audacity to change the logo and establish the "red socks" as de rigueu, we say "hold on a second."

As a business, it's certainly in their right to make some changes if it will help drive merchandise sales (the assumed reason behind the change). But the fans I'm talking to aren't buying it... whether it's a hat, an away jersey or a bumper sticker with the new logo. We're just fine with what we've got (or had, based on what you've just introduced).

What about you? What do you think about the hat and uniform changes. Should Theo Epstein and his team have asked you first?

I look forward to your comments, which will undoubtedly be better than this post. Thanks!

15 comments:

MSGiro said...

First off we're Bostonians and we culturally hate change so this will take time for people to get used to. I actually like the new road uni and really don't mind the new hat, because it pays homage to the original logo of yesteryear. Also, we all knew it was coming. Mike Dee is a money sucking machine and will do anything to add revenue opportunities to the mix. On a side note I don't recall people flipping out over coke bottles (which I hated) on the Monster in the most sacred of holy grounds, but somehow this has sparked a light fury amongst others who are probably just stressing out over a hot stove. No worries. We can still be friends. :-)

Beau Colburn said...

I don't have any problem with them making the change. I like the idea of alternate uniforms to be worn occasionally (changing the primary hat would be different). Personally, I'd prefer to wear the B on my hat (I feel like going all the way back to when I was a kid I had a child-like connection with the B as it was my initial).

One note though--I don't know if the new logo has as much to do with increased revenue as some people think since MLB merch revenue is split evenly. It may have some effect, but I'm guessing it's pretty small. Compare this to NASCAR, where each team has a new "official team hat" TWICE every season!

At the end of the day, I think they did a nice job doing something new, but maintaining the traditional look and feel.

Ari Herzog said...

Let's look at this in a corporation vs customer light. Who decided on the changes? Where there focus groups among fans? 'Nuff said.

Bryan Person said...

I don't have a problem with the changes, either. The "B" will still be the primary hat, with the "hanging socks" as a secondary one.

The home uniforms haven't been touched. The road uniforms, which were last updated in the late 1980s when the names were added to the back of the jerseys, were due for a change. I like the new look.

As for the alternate home jersey AND alternate road jersey (along with the aforementioned alternate cap) .... well, it's just a marketing/merchandising move. No real harm done there, right?

It won't make me like the team any more or less!

Bryan Person | @BryanPerson

Beau Colburn said...

@ari not sure more details, but I have seen a few references to JWH or LL always liking the double-socks logo. link.

Warren said...

I kind of like the hanging socks, it's new and fresh, but also seems retro and goes back to our roots/ traditions. It will be nice to see them wearing it occasionally.

And when you can get your fans taking about the baseball team in December, you've hit a home run.

There, do I sound too much like the marketer that I am?

Katie said...

I echo Warren and Bryan's comments. I don't feel like the new logo or uniforms degrades the brand in any way, and I like the callback to "olden days".

It meets my approval!

-Katie
@misskatiemo

adamcohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adamcohen said...

Sorry to flame the new logo lovefest here, but I am not happy with changing the hat. I love the throwback to yesteryear theme of shifting the "primary" logo from the round circle to just the two sox. I like the Navy shirts, sure beats the green. I even am fine with the blue lettering on away jerseys. But the lids, why mess with the lids? Sure, they'll be worn a few times a year, but aren't they just as bad as the 4th of July BOS-NYY hats? It's messing with tradition and something that IMO didn't need to be messed with.

Of course I won't root for them any less. But just don't expect me to buy one of those hats. Mind you, this is coming from a guy who still has a bright red Steve Grogan jersey.

Derek said...

Nice post, Jim. I agree that the uniform is one of the few things you can take to the bank about a team year in and year out. As a result (and as @MSGiro points out, because we are change-averse New Englanders), I do not suffer change gladly when it comes to the Boston Red Sox "brand".

This ownership group has been emphasizing the 'hanging sox' (freed from the confines of its traditional circular logo) as a brand identifier since 2003 (yes, I keep an eye on these things), so this move isn't all that surprising.

I am overall very pleased with Lucchino et al have done (and what Red Sox fan wouldn't be?). They have excelled in a results-driven market. They have managed (yes, with many key pieces assembled under the Duquette regime) to deliver the brass ring not once, but twice, and we are always in contention.

We are fortunate to root for one of the longest standing teams in American sports, with some of the best iconography in any sport (I’m not sure how you improve upon this, frankly), but they felt the need to tinker nonetheless.

For once we'd do well to take a page from the Yankees book. They have a classic look which has undergone minimal change over the past century. We don't need these trappings and different alternate looks for every day of the week. It waters down and cheapens our "brand".

I’m OK with the fact that the Boston Red Sox now have an official wall-to-wall carpet supplier, coffin, and cheese doodle; I have accepted that this ownership group will slap a logo on anything they can to make a buck. It’s when you start changing what that logo is and especially what the team wears on the field where I draw the line.

They know they have a fanatical fan-base, and they take liberties to be sure, but it was Mike Dee’s comments to the effect that the fans had had input and were “overwhelmingly” behind these changes that set me off.

What fans? Where?

I realize that NESN is the PR arm of the team, but that was straight-up Baghdad Bob: simply untrue.

In the long run, there may be nothing those of us who are against these changes can do but have it shoved down our throats like so much NASCAR. But I'll sleep better if I at least rage a little against the dying of the light.

MSGiro said...

Adamcohen how dare you knock the 4th of July hats? I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. I LOVE those hats and even bought one. I actually like what MLB did with those by having a hat for every single MLB team by placing an American flag through each logo. It was brilliant AND came with the added bonus of donating the proceeds to the disabled veterans fund.

Now I have to think about your punishment. Maybe it will involve wearing a canary yellow Sox hat with the traditional B on it. ;-)

drob said...

Has any team that has updated their uniforms won the World Series in the year that they've done it? Just askin'.

Aaron Strout said...

Well, I don't have much to add here now that I'm jumping in late. I don't like to mess with tradition but I'm with the crowd on this one. I really don't mind the new look that much (especially since it is secondary vs. home). Kudos to Jimbo on writing such a thought/comment provoking post!

Best,
Aaron | @astrout

Jim said...

Great comments guys and gals!

It was interesting to catch a Bruins game the other night (at home) and see them wearing a completely unfamiliar logo on their jerseys... I guess no one really cares about the Bruins in my circles, because I never heard anything about that.

And what happened to Pat Patriot? He gave way to the Flying Elvis a while back. I seem to remember a bit of a tizzy, but that seems to have faded away.

We just need to accept that logo/uniform changes are part of the game and let it go at that I guess. Vote with your dollar is what I say.

For what it's worth, I'm in the market for a new Red Sox hat and I might just go for one with the two socks on the front. ;-)

Derek said...

In the event you decide not to go bleeding edge with your hat choice, here's a couple suggestions:

I've had the 1946 stretch hat for the last two years as my primary and it is by far my favorite from both a look and comfort perspective (the website photos makes the reds look dull, almost orange, but it's scarlet. There's also the 1939 variant (slightly tainted on account of its association with Jimmy Fallon in my book), but still a solid choice. These don't have a the huge Elmer Fudd-like crown like the on-field version do, and they aren't pre-faded like the über-popular franchise model.

This one is one of the better alternate caps, or you could always go with the КРАСНЫЙ НОСКИ model if you really want to zig when others zag.