Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SPORTS
I’m not sure if I’ve ever ranked my favourite absurd moments in sports history before, but I do know that yesterday’s Chris Sale incident is up there. The Chicago White Sox pitcher refused to play in the team’s throwback jerseys last night, stating that the cut and material were uncomfortable compared to the standard models.
Now, seeing as he’s a starting pitcher, I don’t blame him. Little things throw off pitching mechanics in big ways; that’s why you see some of the game’s finest hurlers fall apart in games because they broke a fingernail, or similar. If the jersey is going to mess with your most important player, then the marketing team is directly impacting your ability to win games.
With that said, I probably wouldn’t have gone into the clubhouse with a knife and started cutting everybody’s jerseys up to prevent the team from using them. That seems excessive. Maybe just hide them somewhere? I don’t know. But here are a few Leafs jerseys that, aesthetically, I would consider doing the same for.
Toronto St Pats, 1922-25
The thing about the Toronto St. Pats is that you have to go all green with it, or what’s the point? Their best jerseys are the ones they wore in 2002 as throwbacks. Those ones are mostly green and have that fun, jolly font that was a bit of a precursor to the Ballard logo.
This? It’s 50/50 in the colour split with a slight edge to the white. The pants and socks look like somebody accidentally put them on the white cycle. The font is too serious, too; it reminds me of the Bayer logo. At the end of the day, the Leafs frequently give me headaches and make me question the point of life, but if I must represent them, I don’t want the jerseys that remind me of bleach and aspirin.
Toronto Maple Leafs, 1930-34
The layout of the dark jersey was kind of cool for the Winter Classic jersey. Not to mention, the pants are dope. My bigger issue with that jersey is the lettering; the jersey already has so many stripes that it’s a seizure risk, and you’re going to give me a tracing pattern for identification? How did anyone expect these players to know who was who? This actually gives me more respect for Foster Hewitt, who had to do radio play-by-play while staring at these things.
The white jersey solves that problem in literally the most boring way possible. You can tell that the team was told to have a non-blue jersey just in case (read: road games against the Rangers), so they basically just taped some logos onto long sleeve t-shirts.
Toronto Maple Leafs, 1934-37
These sweaters aimed to fix the problem left by the boring white ones of the generation before, but rather than make something nice, they put that awful seizure-stripe layout on it instead. It’s not even like continuity was to blame, either, seeing as they changed the darks to a new layout and new logo.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the dark jerseys were a huge step in the right direction. The layout is great and they’re beginning to approach the perfect Leafs logo. But this one looks like it had a few too many hot dogs and cookies before finally getting to athletic prime in 1938.
Toronto Maple Leafs, 1977
In this case, it’s not so much the jersey layout, which was nice for its era, but what the Leafs did with them seven years in. The NHL began to mandate nameplates on the back of jerseys for the sake of player recognition to both the fans and the broadcasters, particularly as the game started expanding into new markets. Harold Ballard wasn’t a fan of the idea, so he made the letters the same colour as the uniform.
via “hockey blog in canada”
Now, to be honest with you, I wouldn’t wear any Leafs jersey while Ballard ran the team, and I could do without the logo, but knowing that my big boss was hiding me so he could monetize putting a name to my face would probably piss me off.
Toronto Maple Leafs, 2016/17
Okay, this is admittedly on the hot-takey side of things. The jerseys could’ve been a lot worse, and that logo is still pretty much the best in hockey. I dig the pants too. Ultimately, I might warm up to these more once they’re on the ice, and the other four above me are objectively much worse, but I just think they could’ve done so much better.
Oh well. At least it’s not the Bayer-Bleach and the names are the right colour.