Over the next week [save tomorrow], we’ll be taking a look at some of the major stories of 2016 in Diamondbacksland. We start off with one of the most obvious changes for the year, the swathe of new couture worn by the team in 2016. This one actually was announced in 2015, on December 3. Immediate reaction at that point was, it’s fair to say, mixed. My main issue was the sheer number of them: it’s hard to forge any kind of team identity, when the team appears to be playing in different looking jerseys every night. Beyond that - and probably not surprising, given said quantity - some of them were cool, others... not so much. I then promptly forgot about them.
Unfortunately, that lasted only until Opening Day, when we began a pattern that would occupy the province of DeadHorselandia for the entire season. Now, I probably suffered through this more than most, because I had a regular search going for “Diamondbacks” on Twitter, in order to locate appropriate content for our Tweets of the Week feature. But, dear god, there were times when I just wanted to forget about the whole idea. For every time we faced another team, social media would explode: “OMG! Those new Diamondbacks uniforms are the worst ever!” from opposing fans, apparently believing the jerseys had just been unveiled that night. Rinse. Repeat. Every goddamn series. It just didn’t stop.
Oh, you think they look like softball team unis? I’ve never heard THAT one before. Hold my aching sides, for I fear they may split. Have a brief sample of Tweets from one game in San Francisco, the last one before the All-Star break on July 10, a full seven months after the new uniforms had been unveiled, and received broad coverage in the media. Though you should not take what follows to mean that Giants fans are especially slow or behind the times. This particular contest was the D-backs’ sole appearance on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball last year, so it probably says more about ESPN viewers than anything.
Watching the AZ Diamondbacks. Uniforms look like the Star Wars Stormtroopers softball team.— BringNDaRuckus (@chris4aces) July 11, 2016
The #Diamondbacks uniforms look like those worn by that douchebag softball team who all have calf tattoos and compression sleeeves— Fake David Beaty (@FakeDavidBeaty) July 11, 2016
AZ Diamondbacks uni department makes a bold move..."Hey! Let's get slow pitch softball uniforms!"#Puke#LooksGoodOnYouTho— Merchant Ball (@MerchantBall) July 11, 2016
The Arizona Diamondbacks deserve to lose every game until they burn these awful softball uniforms.— Timothy Caouette (@TimCaouette) July 11, 2016
The Diamondbacks' uniforms are ridiculous. This isn't a softball league. #Diamondbacks #mlb #uniwatch #fashionfail— Michael Reeves (@mreeves_seattle) July 11, 2016
To get some more idea of what I endured all year, here’s a search for “Diamondbacks uniforms” on Twitter. A near-relentless litany of mind-numbing negativity along with the same “jokes”, time and again - and, these are just the “top” Tweets. I mean, of all the many things for which you could criticize the 2016 Diamondbacks, it’s the uniforms which received most flak from general baseball fans? Putting on my tinfoil hat for a moment, I might venture to suggest that the style choices were a deliberate ploy by management to provide a distraction from the other issues which would plague the team. A cunning scheme, Mr. Blofeld.
On the plus side, less than a month into the season, this did bring us one of the most glorious videos of the 2016 season. In the style of Jimmy Kimmel, we got to see Diamondback players reading aloud mean Tweets about the new uniforms.
Now, being ferociously mocked by the public does not necessarily make you wrong. As Gandhi (never) said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” But being wrong is the more likely outcome, and in this case, it seems fair to conclude that both the content and the sheer volume of uniforms was an ill-conceived idea. With all respect to those concerned, so probably was having the team get involved in designing them. You wouldn’t win many games with Jean-Paul Gaultier on the mound, and letting pitchers play at being fashion designers ended in a not dissimilar result.
It was interesting to note that the uniforms did not all receive equal time, as shown by Charlie’s spreadsheet detailing the team’s record in the various combos. I think a slow winnowing down of the numbers, returning to a more conventional quantity, was entirely deliberate. And that won’t be the only changes for this season. Because, a number of adjustments were announced in November, including the designation for assignment of the red gradient on the pant legs, commonly referred to as the “bloody sock” look. There was probably an angry column from Curt Schilling in response, claiming this change was because he was supporting Donald Trump...
On the plus side, by the time Opening Day rolls around, we will be a full 16 months removed from the uniforms’ reveal, and there will surely no longer be any excuse for shocked and horrified Tweets. But I’m sure they’ll still exist. I’m contemplating setting up a ‘bot that monitors Twitter for the words “Diamondbacks”, “uniforms” and “softball”, and replies to them with a copy of deadhorse.png. However, to switch herbivores, there may be a new scapegoat in town, because the San Diego Padres introduced new uniforms on November 22. These have already been described as “lame and generic” and “profoundly boring,” while the team has “officially hit rock-bottom,” So the Internet mob will hopefully have fresh meat once the new season begins!