See-through pants. 'Knockoff' jerseys. New MLB uniforms trigger complaints, except from Dodgers


Dodgers players haven’t complained as much as others around baseball. Maybe when a team wins 100 or more games every year the players look and feel good no matter what they wear.

But the hot topic in MLB spring-training clubhouses spilled onto the field this week when teams held photo day dressed in new uniforms designed by Nike and manufactured by Fanatics. Players griped about poor fit, bright colors, the small size of their names, and the, er, see-through nature of pants that brought to mind the children’s chant, “I see London, I see France, I see Mookie’s underpants.”

For his part, Dodgers star Mookie Betts is less concerned than many of his MLB counterparts, saying: “It doesn’t matter to me. If we’re worrying about uniforms — it matters to some people. I couldn’t care less. As long as I’ve got one on.”

Nevertheless, the grumbling across the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues got loud enough for the Major League Baseball Players Assn. to express dismay.

“It’s disappointing that we’ve landed in a place where the uniforms are the topic of discussion,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said. “Each conversation with the guys is yielding more information with what we’re seeing.”

As in seeing too much. Shohei — show hey! — Ohtani.

“A lot of the rhetoric is confirmation that the pants are see-through,” Clark said. “It’s been an ongoing conversation where each day has yielded something new that doesn’t seem to make as much sense as you would like.”

Another issue with the pants: Several teams don’t have enough to go around.

“There are teams that have pants and jerseys,” Clark said. “There are some teams that don’t have pants. There are other teams that are supposed to be receiving certain things before the start of the [season]. There are others that — in the event they have an issue with the pants and a player needs a new pair — don’t have any in reserve.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last week waved off the growing chorus of complaints like Alessandro Benetton at a Paris fashion show, saying the jerseys “have been tested more extensively than any jersey in any sport. … After people wear them a little bit, I think they are going to be really popular.”

The new uniforms were worn at last year’s All-Star Game in Seattle, and Manfred said feedback was “universally positive from the players.” Or maybe they were just overjoyed to be All-Stars and unwilling to criticize the brass.

Spring training is different. Days drag on, scores don’t matter and players have plenty of time to consider sartorial splendor or lack thereof. A cliche in baseball goes something like, “Look good, play good.” Players paid mega-millions want to feel like at least a million bucks.

Not, as one veteran Orioles player told the Baltimore Banner, like a fan scouring off-price retailers for deals. “The look of it is like a knockoff jersey from T.J.Maxx,” he said.

Another Orioles player, who like his teammate requested anonymity to avoid backlash from MLB officials, critiqued his new orange cap, saying: “You can see how much brighter this one is. And so you look like a pumpkin when you’re out there.”

Numbers and letters on jerseys are smaller because the new Nike Vapor Premier jersey is made of thinner, lighter fabric that MLB says will provide more comfort during hot summer ballgames. Players might eventually appreciate that.

Other complaints — especially pertaining to below the belt — seem to be worth addressing.

Previously, players fitted during spring training could request customized tailoring, according to the Athletic. This year, Nike and Fanatics sorted players by four body types based on body-scanning of about 300 players and gave them three options — slim, regular, or baggy fit. Tailoring specific areas wasn’t an option.

A statement by MLB on Thursday indicates Nike and Fanatics are revisiting the policies and could break out the measuring tape or thicken pants before opening day, which is about five weeks away.

“Like every Spring Training, Fanatics team services, Nike and MLB representatives are visiting camps to meet with all players, conduct uniform fitting sessions with them, and get their feedback on how their uniforms fits,” the statement said. “Based on player requests, adjustments are being made to jersey size, waist, in-seam, length, thigh fit and the bottom of their pants.

“The goal of these meetings is to provide players with the most comfortable uniforms available for Opening Day. We are in close contact with our Clubs and uniform partners to ensure Clubs have what they need for Opening Day.”

Maybe by then the uniforms will live up to what MLB and Nike promised ahead of spring training, that they would “improve mobility, moisture management and fit, while keeping sustainability in mind — bringing inspiration and innovation to athletes.”

Or at the very least, sufficient cover.

Times staff writer Jack Harris contributed to this report.



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