Soccer Out of Context: the AL West

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This piece, the third in the Soccer Out of Context series, gets us halfway around Major League Baseball. (Yup, that’s me, digging into second, looking to pick up the third base coach, and probably missing the frantic “hold up!” sign.) I’ll likely say this every time I publish one of these, but I’m thrilled to get to do this for an audience like those of you who have been dropping by - it’s really gratifying to get your reactions to these designs. Today we’ll be hopping over to the A.L. West - sometimes wild, sometimes mild, sometimes… uh, other stuff that rhymes with “wild”, the Western Division has always been visually interesting. Maybe it’s the history of big personalities; maybe, it’s a vestigial Napoleonic complex. I prefer to think that any time you get, say, a couple hombres from Texas, a dude from SoCal, a typical Bay Area guy, and somebody from the Pacific Northwest into a room together, you’re bound to see some interesting things go down.

Author’s note: This is part of a recurring series on the soccer design aesthetic applied in other contexts. When you’re done here, feel free to read on.
The A.L. East
The N.L. Central
The A.L. West
The N.L. West
The A.L. Central
The N.L. East

imageDone with all 30 baseball identities? Soccer Out of Context continues with the Ghosts & Grandfathers League series.

imageIf you love American soccer, check out The Gadsden, a shirt made for US Soccer fanatics, over at my brand new design shop, Clean Sheet.

For more, including how to purchase future design work from the author, follow @m_willis on Twitter or leave your email at the very bottom of this page. Thanks for reading!

Last time I linked to the original rules of the exercise, and then added one more, so I don’t see the harm in doing the same today - and it’s kind of an amendment this time. Before, I wrote: “I’m not changing logos, colors or visual properties - just trying to play within existing boundaries.” Allow me to re-state:

  • I’m not rebranding teams, but I am pulling from teams’ entire visual histories, not just their present day looks.

Or, I’m not going to sweat it if I dive into a team’s past for a better logo, or combine, re-use or update visual motifs that teams have connections to. I want each club to look its best in a soccer context - and that means some playing around. Some identities just translate more easily into the world of soccer; others need a bit of coaxing (or historical exploration) to bring out the “soccer” in their look and feel. But instead of trying to describe all this in mundane detail, let’s get to the visuals.

Oakland Athletics

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In my youth, it was the Bash Brothers, Rickey Henderson and four guys trying to win 20 games (so close, Storm Davis) or one guy flirting with winning 30 (nice split finger, Bob Welch). It was my beloved, average-to-good Red Sox teams of the late 80s and early 90s (aka, Clemens, Boggs, and a bunch of Cheers extras) getting absolutely smoked by Dave Stewart and the A’s machine in the playoffs. And it was style: head nods, bat flips, Oakleys. The freaking high-five wasn’t cool enough for the A’s; they had to invent something A’s cool (the forearm bash, which showed up in more than a few backyard whiffleball games during that era).

And the A’s extended that sense of style and inventiveness to the way they dressed, too: they favored long pants, showing very little stirrup or sock, white spikes (even on the road), and (in Rickey’s case) day-glo batting gloves. To a baseball-loving kid like me, every little detail was awesome. And that’s just my childhood frame of reference; the A’s were cool before the era I described, and they remained cool after. I mean, Brad Pitt starred in a movie about them last year. In the greater baseball ecosystem, the A’s have a pretty unique culture - flamboyant, fun, and ruthless. I wanted to give them a jersey that would honor all that (and, I don’t know, impress soccer-loving A’s GM Billy Beane and soccer-team-owning A’s owner Lew Wolff).

This piece of kit is what I came up with. First, it’s dominated by the all-enveloping Oakland forest green tone. There are no collar or sleeve accents; no piping or contrasting adornments. Just deep, rich green. imageThe effect, to me, is one of intimidation. Even the Nike logo (and there is no doubt in my mind that the A’s are a Nike kind of club) fades back into the design. But since we’re talking about the A’s, some style has to shine through - and it does, in a few ways. First, the club crest. Instead of the team’s existing cap logo or team mark, I chose a historic symbol for the A’s crest: the mighty white elephant from the team’s earliest days (dating back to just after their formation in Philadelphia). The white elephant is crucial to A’s mythology - in fact, it might be the reason the team has always had that certain chip-on-their-shoulder exuberance. The legends (passed down through history to Wikipedia) state:

After New York Giants manager John McGraw told reporters that Philadelphia manufacturer Benjamin Shibe, who owned the controlling interest in the new team, had a “white elephant on his hands,” [A’s manager Connie] Mack defiantly adopted the white elephant as the team mascot, and presented McGraw with a stuffed toy elephant at the start of the 1905 World Series. … By 1909, the A’s were wearing an elephant logo on their sweaters, and in 1918 it turned up on the regular uniform jersey for the first time.

The A’s revel in giving it right back to you, basically. imageSo the white elephant it is. (It doesn’t hurt that the elephant is also damn cool looking - and in a soccer sense, kind of reminiscent of Tottenham’s cockerel-on-football crest.) The stark white-on-green effect is also, as mentioned, something particularly Oakland.

At the base of the ball, nine stars make a semi-circular track around the crest. The A’s are no stranger to championships; if they get to 10, it may be time to dial back to one star, but for now, befitting their sense of style, all nine are on display. There’s one more quirk to the stars, too: they’re mostly gold over green, but three - the last three, save one - dip into the golden triple-stripe that cuts horizontally across the uniform’s chest. Those three stars and three stripes call back to another unforgettable era in A’s history - the 1970s - and the glamorous, technicolor teams that won a lot, and did so in their own bold, mustachioed style.

The triple stripe is a direct reference to the brightly decorated polyester uniforms the A’s wore during the 70s, when owner Charlie Finley wanted his to be the first team to take advantage of a newly-emerging technology: color television. In an era where most teams wore some kind of combination of white with dark accents, the A’s popped on-screen - and afros and facial hair didn’t exactly take away from the spectacle. The teams were great, too - and famously won three titles in a row in 1972, ‘73 and ‘74. If you take the stars in chronological order, the three in white over the gold stripe - championships six, seven, and eight - honor that rare and historic run of consecutive titles (and the final star, back over the green, represents the 1989 Bay/Earthquake Series victory, the A’s ninth and most recent). imageThe three golden stripes themselves reference the design that capped the A’s sleeves during the 70s and epitomize their all-eyes-on-me fashion sense. Shimmery gold replaces flat yellow across this treatment, to elevate the look, keep pace with the deep green, and help bring the jersey into the world of modern soccer style.

A few other final details about this A’s look - first, the sponsor is Kaiser Permanente, a health care consortium, which is a relatively mundane but completely appropriate sponsor for the A’s. KP is headquartered in Oakland, has a large customer base in west coast media markets, has a relationship with A’s sister soccer club, the San Jose Earthquakes. Kaiser is also part of a group actively campaigning to help keep the A’s rooted in Oakland (though I admit that from thousands of miles away, the intricacies of the A’s stadium situation elude me, so I’m not sure how all fans feel about that).

Second, I couldn’t let the famous “A” cap insignia go missing, so you’ll notice it subtly pressed into the textured design of the fabric, running from the neck to the base of the jersey. It’s hard to recreate this effect two-dimensionally, but it would be a understated and very appropriate way to include one of the game’s most enduring marks. imageOn the back, you’ll find the MLB logo, the player name treated in white, and the numbering done in the same gold used on the front, and accompanied by a simple white stroke.

One would hope that this jersey honors the club’s visual history, and is fit for a team with as much character, and as many characters, as the Oakland A’s.

(*FOREARM BASH*)

Seattle Mariners

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Update, 1/10: a few folks have pointed out that Nintendo, who owns the team, would likely prevent my original chosen corporate partner, Microsoft, from sponsoring the jersey. That is great feedback, and something I should have realized. I’ve updated the image and hey - I like it better now! Thanks, commenters.

This club, and its fans, deserve a ton of credit. First, they sit all alone up in the Pacific Northwest; soccer teams seem to flock to the region, but the Mariners - almost 700 miles from their nearest neighbor club - are all by their lonesome up in Seattle. Second, it rains a ton there, so the fact that baseball can flourish (due, first, to a dome, and now to a retractable roof) is still kind of amazing. Third, they lost a team once (the Pilots, after one teasingly short year of existence), and had to wait most of a decade to get it back. (We’re not talking basketball, but losing the Sonics was obviously not fun either.) Fourth, they’ve never won the World Series, despite having rosters that included two plausible “best players of all time”, and one plausible “best pitcher of all time”, near peak, at the same time (Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson), losing all those guys, and then immediately fielding a team that holds the record for most regular season wins in the baseball history (116 in 2001), but that still couldn’t pull off a title. And yet the fans are tenacious; Seattle fans have some kind of extra solidarity coursing through their veins. And if you’ve ever seen a Sounders home soccer crowd - 40,000+ strong and in full voice - you’ll understand that Seattle loves its traditional sports and its soccer at the same, intense level. There may be no market better suited to “get” a soccer version of a baseball identity. (No pressure.)

I’ve tried to honor that kind of environment with this treatment of the Mariners as a soccer identity. First, the crest: it’s the team’s current compass rose logo, in the now-traditional colors of deep blue, dark teal, and ocean grey. I simplified the logo mark just a touch, removing some exterior decoration, to prepare it for its role as a soccer crest. The compass is a great symbol - it’s universally recognized, memorable, and ties in perfectly with the city’s traditional relationship to the sea.image Behind the crest, I’ve extended and reworked the compass rose motif into a jersey design; the eight traditional directions are represented in a faded re-creation of the compass’s points. All lines intersect beneath the crest to emphasize it and give the entire jersey an energetic jolt. One in point particular stands out - the vector pointing northwest - which is rendered in dramatic, full-color detail, paying homage to the region that the Seattle represents with pride.

I’m proud of this design because (like the kind of jersey and identity work I take inspiration from) there are different layers and different meanings playing together in a cohesive way. First, the compass directionals, extended from the crest, also form the general shape of a mariner’s steering wheel, which is an evocative symbol of the sea - and one that Seattle’s first team, the Pilots, actually used during their brief tenure. Second, having moved from crest to backing design, the motif is further continued on the surface of the jersey itself, where embedded in the fabric texture is a stylized map of the Puget Sound region that Seattle is situated in. The map effect is so subtle that it isn’t necessary to enjoy the jersey, but in context gives the design another level of signifigance for local supporters. imageBecause of its inclusion in the fabric base, the map would be tonal - it would virtually disappear at some angles, appear at others, and really lend a unique (but soccer appropriate) aspect to the overall look. The compass rose crest, of course, is placed precisely above where the city of Seattle would appear on this map; but the full region represented is large enough (south to Tacoma, near the jersey’s bottom) to include many Mariners fans in the greater metro area that the team represents.

A few other details complete the look. The jersey in this example is made by Japanese brand Mizuno, which is a nod both the the large Asian presence in the city’s culture, and the fact that for years Japanese companies have taken an interest in the Mariners due mostly to the iconic success of Ichiro. (Ichiro’s name triggers another G.O.A.T. alert, by the way; what is it with the Mariners and best-ever players?) imageThe sponsor here is Microsoft, the Redmond, Washington-based software giant who a) has tons of ties to local sports culture, and b) already puts their Xbox product logo on the Sounders’ jerseys. I chose Windows as the way Microsoft would express its sponsorship because it’s a flagship, national brand and, let’s face it, Windows 8 (a fine product, I’m sure) needs all the promotion it can muster. Update 1/10: While everything I mentioned about Windows is plausible, seeing as Nintendo corporation owns the team and Microsoft is a competitor, their sponsoring this jersey is not. I should have caught that! I’m changing the sponsor to Nintendo and their new Wii U gaming platform. Thanks to all for the very appropriate feedback. The jersey’s collar and bottom are trimmed in the team’s seafaring blue color, but the sleeve ends are checkered grey and green - a cool effect, and another callback to the nautical style I think the team could make more of. Around back, the number isimage treated in the team’s current typeface, which I only sort-of like, but I switched the name’s type treatment to a vertically extended gothic sans which better mimics the lettering in the club’s crest. The MLB logo, in its customary spot, is the finishing touch. The entire jersey is just a shade to the aged side of white, to enhance the well-worn, dignified textures and tones it would exhibit.

A jersey to be proud of, at the game, lost at sea, or sitting around with a cup of joe. Here’s hoping this is the look that would help push the deserving Mariners over the top.

Houston Astros

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The Astros - to me, anyway - are a worthy club with a slight visual identity problem. (Both Texas teams have visual identity quirks; but they’re quite different from one another - and anyway, we’ll get to the Rangers in a second.) The Astros deal with a somewhat confounding, very solvable dilemma: they’re stuck between visual personas. It really comes down to this: is the team a space-age, future-facing identity, or one rooted in the dusty Texas soil? Is the club more Apollo 11 or Ford F–150? More spaceman or cowboy? (perhaps Space Cowboy?) Do the Astros secretly still want to be the Colt .45s, or do they want to ride the psychedelic rainbow off into the firmament?

I blame the Astrodome. My theory is that the Astros would be fifty years into a single, classic identity if only the Astrodome hadn’t shown up at just the wrong time. An “8th Wonder of the World” here, some fake grass there, and all of a sudden a team that could have had an aspirational, elegant identity - something drawing from our nature to look to the stars and explore - became based around a then-futuristic, bubble-shaped building. Something potentially timeless became World’s Fair tacky and ultimately disposable.

And then the 70s happened, and everybody went insane anyway. But the Astros straight up lost their minds. They sobered up into the 90s, put the ‘Dome out to pasture and built themselves a downtown, down-home, sod-based ballpark. Along the way, the club’s identity became more conservative, and eventually, something kind of rootsy and Texan - but they also lost whatever connotations the “Astros” idea had in relation to space exploration. Today, they’re back to a pleasing 1960s template, but still devoid of anything excitingly different. When I see the star on the Astros’ current logo, I don’t think of space at all. I think of Heart-of-Texas charm, I guess. And so while the identity is nicer now, there’s nothing really “Astro” about it. I wanted to address that with this design.

To me, any thinking about the Astros’ identity should a) honor their roots, and Houston’s continuing role in spaceflight; b) avoid the kitschy Astrodome positioning, but be fun b) approach sophistication, and c) stress the club’s uniqueness. Luckily, the Astros have the perfect excuse to do all of this and more: they’re switching leagues! Like a nerdy, shy kid in his first week at college, they can take on a new identity and pretend they always had it. And of course, I have the added excuse that I’m creating a fully fictional soccer look for them anyway. So let’s discuss it.

First, the overall design stresses simplicity, a sense of space (both meanings) and fun. The predominant tone is a light, slate grey - traditionally, a U.S. baseball team’s imageaway look - which I think is appropriate as the club enters the American League a bit of an outsider. It also suggests the sky at the edge of space, somewhere between bright daytime and darkness. I took some inspiration from the simple Colt .45s and Astros grey flannel jerseys of old, and especially enjoyed the unique combination of grey, navy blue and reddish orange that the club should completely take visual ownership of. Next, the crest: it’s the former iteration of Houston’s current H-over-star cap logo, as simple as can be, without bevels or extra adornments. The jersey is a canvas that surrounds and enhances the crest; the predominant feature is a vertical sash that terminates at the star. This sash - which is really a grouping of small, single-color stripes - serves a few purposes: it gives the grey jersey some bright dynamism, but it also allows the logo to take on a real ‘Astro’ identity, recalling a rocket at liftoff or a shooting star.

The sash also (not so subtly) references the Astros’ 70s “rainbow” palate in a staid, tongue-in-cheek way. imageThere’s no doubt that the “so bad it’s awesome” quality the old 1970s-era shirts have continues to make them popular; I love them for the same reason many do - because they have a certain naive purity, and because being a fan is supposed to be a little over the top. The club brings them back when they can, but the idea of fully switching to the 70s look again is unthinkable - and at the very least would spoil the retro charm. Using the old color scheme in this soccer “sash” context, the Astros can acknowledge and play off their unique visual history in a tasteful way, without resorting to “turn back the clock” nights or other promotions to do so.

Other details include navy shirt and sleeve ends, and a navy collar with just a hint of orange piping at the top. Against the jersey base, a very subtle orbital design, reminiscent of the team’s “atomic Astrodome” logo, imageweaves through the fabric, crossing at the neck and base, and carrying over on to the sleeves and leading the eye from element to element. The shirt is, here, made by Umbro - and of all the manufacturer’s logos I’ve used so far, I was most nervous to add the famous double-diamond to anything, so I hope it’s worthy. In any event, the logo sits quietly in the background. imageThe club’s sponsor is Shell, a Houston-headquartered energy company with a national brand, and their own iconic logo is centered and rendered in white, floating just above the vertical sash. On the jersey back, I used a simple block font face for names and numbers that introduces no extra complexity into the design language.

My inspiration for this jersey was the style behind Nasa’s early logo - one which they, too, rediscovered after a period of futurism. Like the Nasa mark, I believe that understated class and a real space-based Astro identity can go hand-in-hand, while still acknowledging the club’s design history and current positioning.

Anyhow: welcome to the league, boys.

Texas Rangers

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The Rangers are another great club with a slight visual identity issue. If the Astros can’t quite pick a specific, iconic visual identity, the Rangers have the exact opposite problem - they’ve never really had a defining one - and they’ve settled too easily for a somewhat nondescript identity. Luckily, the solution is well at hand. The Rangers have the potential to be an incredibly strong visual brand - they’ve got great fans, a successful on-field team, a good stadium, a big city and an evocative, meaningful team name. So what’s standing in the club’s way?

The Dallas Cowboys, to name a local neighbor, absolutely drip with personality and a identity. Whether or not the Cowboys’ dominance of the Dallas sports landscape suppresses other local identities, I don’t know, but I do know that the Rangers don’t seem to have much visual personality at all; they seem, in fact, to have an identity only by default. What the club needs is something unique, something they can own. And where the Astros have been busy trying on unique identities, the Rangers have had one waiting for them to take advantage of - their namesake, the legendary Texas Ranger Division of lawmen - that the club has never really done much with visually. Sure, the Rangers have changed fonts (at least the original “Rocky & Bullwinkle” typeface was interesting, but it’s pretty plain why that couldn’t continue), tweaked their logo, and tried colored jerseys, and then other colored jerseys, but really, they’re just shuffling the same couple of elements around every few years. Red, blue, white, a ‘T’ mark, some baseball-looking typefaces and a star. No matter how the team combines those elements, it ends up looking just “pretty good.” I wanted to take their soccer design a step beyond that. This jersey concept gives the Rangers a bolder, more focused look, while paying symbolic attention to the visual history that the club has built up over the years.

The jersey itself is deep blue, which I’d like the Rangers to take and run with. First, it will separate them from their new in-division rivals, the Astros, who have been known to use Ranger-esque red in their palette, but who never get close to this shade of blue. Second, I’ve never really known what the Rangers “primary” color is. Is it red? Blue? Maybe just white with colored accents? This jersey takes a stand and changes that. Here, the Rangers are deep, rich blue with white and red, respectively, playing key roles in supporting the blue color.

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that there’s a pretty fine visual template for what a club called “Rangers” can be as a soccer identity - and though Rangers F.C. of Glasgow, Scotland currently toil in the lower Scottish league divisions, they are still quite a wonderful visual brand, and provide many good examples for the Texas club to emulate. Beyond those Glaswegian Rangers, there’s another great reason to use blue: the Texas state flag. This element, which the club already bases its colors on, should play a larger role in the visual identity of the team. imageAnd since the flag features a wide field of blue, and complimentary stripes in red and white, that’s what the jersey should do too. So beyond the blue jersey base, elements around this design pick up cues from the Texas state flag. Woven into the front of the sloping collar is a small decorative “bunting” element partitioned into red and white, and that element that is repeated around the rear of the jersey, in the center of the collar.

Beneath the collar lies the team crest, and again I’ve opted for something plain and iconic - the simple, current Texas ‘T’ mark in white, with a decorative drop-shadow in red. Behind the crest, you’ll notice the jersey base has a subtle vertical pattern that radiates out across the body of the shirt. imageThis effect is used to call back several important Rangers references - the most crucial being the Texas Lone Star. The star in question may not be immediately discernible; it isn’t simply the solid five-pointed star you see on the Texas state flag; it’s patterned after the actual counter-charged nautical-style star that’s used on the Seal of the State of Texas and, most importantly, is on the seal of the Texas Ranger Division of the state’s law enforcement arm. In this treatment,image the Rangers Star has been enlarged so that only its center fits onto the jersey’s front face, and that star’s center sits directly behind the ‘T’ crest. Centering this detail of the Texas Ranger star behind the crest (and above the heart) creates avery pleasing “beacon” effect in the jersey’s detailing, and lends a bit of extra personality to a plain blue field. (The vertical striping effect even calls back one almost-forgotten element from Rangers logos of the past - a subtle pinstripe behind several versions of the club’s logo.)

The jersey is made, in this example, by Russell Athletic (who have made plenty of baseball jerseys in their day) imageand sponsored by ExxonMobil, who are headquartered in Dallas. I’ve chosen the company’s Mobil imagebrand to be featured, not least because with Mobil comes the attractive WingedPegasus mark that actually (in my opinion) adds some interesting flair to the jersey design. One minor detail - within the sponsor logo, the scored jersey marks angle upwards to create visual separation and to call out the Pegasus in flight. Around back, I’ve used a simplified version of the Rangers’ current font face (which is a bit too busy for a soccer jersey) and based both the name and number on a style that evokes the team’s ‘T’ logo. image The effect is a nice visual cooperation between the front and the back of the jersey. The sleeves are finished, of course, in red and white - and one final touch: on the right sleeve, a pared down version of the Rangers’ old alternate logo, now rendered as a simple lawman’s star and banner, connect the team to their namesake one more time.

With this design, the Rangers can reclaim something unique and distinctive about their brand, while paying homage to both their baseball history, their region, and soccer’s unique visual language.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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And finally, the Angels. Baseball’s perpetual sleeping giant. In my nearly twenty years of habitual web use, I’d guess I’ve scanned past at least three or four hundred sidebar links with phrases like “This Year, the Pennant Goes Through the Angels” and “Powerhouse: The Angels Reload” and “Wally Joyner: Will He Be the Best of All Time?” (Well, there was no real web when Wally was killing it in 1987, but I will consider that year’s Athlon Sports baseball preview edition an eligible precursor). My point being, the Angels are always predicted to be on the verge of turning into some kind of dominant monster, and they’re always pretty decent, but they’re rarely intimidating in the way that, say, the Yankees can be. And although they haven’t stopped stockpiling talent - signing pretty much every slugging position player that becomes available - I’m still not in awe of the Angels. The team’s identity seems too good-natured for that.

I’d like to see the Angels embrace that good nature in their visual identity, and it so happens that that approach can be expressed quite well by the contextual soccer design I’ve worked up. The club’s identity should be fully entwined with the easy living, warm weather, it’s-all-good west coast lifestyle. If their market rivals, the Dodgers, exude a sense of baseball royalty, the Angels’ identity should go the other way - they should evoke the feeling of a bunch of buddies hanging out on somebody’s back deck, or even tailgating before a game (or have L.A. sports fans forgotten how?). All the better if the team is winning, but a lifestyle-based identity like that can tide you through less successful years, too. (Just ask the Red Sox front office how they’re planning on marketing this season’s club - which will be lucky to get to .500 - after indulging in years of “we’re building a perpetual champion!” bluster.)

In any event, this soccer-oriented look for the imageAngels plays to those laid-back sensibilities. The shirt starts with a vintage off-white tone, and keeps the design and attributes very simple and clean. First, and most prominently, an open collar - in the clubs’ primary scarlet color - and a wide scoop neck lend the shirt a “lifestyle” quality, perfect for casual fan wear. The chest is given over to a California-inspired angled-stripe design; the upper band is divided into the Angels’ main colors (scarlet and navy), and the lower is rendered in a pale gold. Together, these panels form a sideways “Big A” and call back to the Angels’ long history in Anaheim.

The upper scarlet/navy band cuts across the chest to meet the Angels logo mark, now a soccer crest, which is asimple manifestation of the club’s imagenotorious halo’d A. Though the Angels have vacillated between using gold and silver for the halo, to me there’s only one option that works with the sunny California style being evoked here, and that’s gold. Above the logo, a single gold star, for the Angels’ 2002 World Series victory, is present.

The upper bands also touch a second element - the manufacturer’s logo. I went out on a limb a little bit here, but to me the idea was too good not to try: I have K-Swiss making the Angels’ jerseys. It may not be practical, or even possible, but there is no brand (unless you count L.A. Gear, which, if you do, imageyou’re either Karl Malone or a little bit messed up) that evokes Los Angeles more to me than K-Swiss. The company was founded in L.A., is still based there today, and has been delivering west coast inspired lifestyle garments for decades - I think I’d like to see them take a crack at this jersey. The K-Swiss logo looks brilliant in this design, in gold, and plays along with the off-white color perfectly.

The second, lower band, in gold, also bisects the jersey and wraps around to the back where, yes, it completes a “halo” around the body of the uniform. In the center of the front-facing goldband is the sponsor I’ve chosen, Toyota’s Scion division, which is a fit for a few reasons. First, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Orange County, and points surrounding that area have both a pure car culture, and tons and tons of young people in the Scion demographic. Second, Toyota just so happens to be making a push to younger buyers surrounding the Scion FR-S, a new performance model (which I have to say I’m a little bit obsessed with at the moment, though I will quite soon be sneaking out the back of the coveted 18–34 demo). This kind of brand and the kind of team identity I’m advocating for go hand in hand.

The rest of the look is clean and simple - gold sleeve-end and shirt-end accents, a bit of gold trim on the collar (another little halo callback) imageand the scoop neck, and around back, the aformentioned halo-band beneath the player number (in scarlet with a slight off-white buffer). Above the number is the player name, in standard block, and the MLB logo, as always. There is no reason to complicate this design any further - it’s perfect for a casual fan or an on-field athlete at once.

I suspect once the Angels embrace this laid-back look, they’d actually become kind of intimidating in the way that anyone who’s really comfortable with themselves can be. In any event, I know the jersey would fit nicely with the landscapes, venues, and people of Southern California.

So there’s the AL West- I hope it all made written and visual sense. Thanks for reading. If you have feedback, I’m listening on Twitter (using #soccercontext) or over on Reddit at /r/baseball. These jerseys are created purely for fun; I’ve had a bunch of requests to buy designs like these, and I wish I could sell them, but they include licensed MLB property, so as of right now I can’t. Soon, though, I’ll have some wearable designs you might enjoy purchasing if you like soccer aesthetics and clean design work like this. If you’d like details when they’re available,

  • follow me on Twitter (@m_willis), or
  • leave me your email address in the form at the very bottom of this page.

And drop any time by for more soccer and design discussion (as always, both in and out of context).

If you made it this far, you might enjoy a few other uniform, soccer and identity-related pieces I’ve put together. First, you can buy original soccer-inspired t-shirt designs at the just-launched Clean Sheet Co - our first shirt is for US Soccer fans, and it’s called The Gadsden.  Also check out the series Re-booting the New England Revolution and What Makes a USA Soccer Kit?. I’m also tracking seasonal soccer tables, beautifully, at the Seasons project. If you like tech writing, I do a little of that too now and then. Thanks again!