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Saturday, May 18, 2024

MLB Lightly Blames Nike for Uniform Debacle

  • The league told ‘The Athletic’ that Fanatics followed Nike’s orders—and Nike still has work to do.
  • Players’ pants fabric did not change this year, but the tops come from a different vendor, accounting for color differences.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Nike has yet another impressive innovation in the uniform space: a new euphemism for sweat stains.

As MLB players and fans continue to pan this season’s new baseball uniforms, a spokesperson for Nike, which designed the attire, told The Athletic in a statement that the company was looking to “lessen the moisture-related aesthetic color differences.”

MLB, meanwhile, is finally pointing a gentle finger in the fiasco, and it’s not at Fanatics, which handles the production of the new uniforms. In the same Athletic story, the league praised Fanatics for doing everything Nike told it to do and pointed out that Nike is responsible for the smaller size of jersey nameplates and for any issues with jersey fabric, which has drawn attention for its transparency.

“As part of this significant transition, Nike will continue to explore necessary adjustments to certain elements of the new uniforms to meet the needs of MLB clubs and players,” MLB said in a statement to The Athletic.

At the same time, the league nodded to “design improvements” in the new uniforms.

Thursday’s story from The Athletic uncovered several other details about the debacle. For one, three sources told the outlet that the fabric for the pants isn’t any different this year, which raises questions as to why the see-through white pants have drawn such attention. The story also points out that Fanatics produces its uniforms at the same facility used by the league’s previous manufacturer, Majestic, which Fanatics acquired in 2017, and that this year’s jersey and pants fabrics come from two different vendors, accounting for a much-criticized two-tone look.

An MLB Players Association spokesperson addressed the issue Tuesday, saying, “We’ve engaged with all parties and continue to work alongside Fanatics to try and find solutions. It’s disappointing, however, that uniforms remain a topic of discussion among players and fans with the season underway.”

Nike, Fanatics, and MLB have not responded to Front Office Sports’ requests for comment.

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