Soccer Out of Context: the NL West

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Postcard:

Made the West Coast. Women, wine, baseball weather… might have to hang here for a bit. Send money and/or Cactus League schedule.

Best, — M.

With this week’s Soccer Out of Context piece, a nice arc to the project should begin to emerge. We started with the Red Sox and friends, indulging my favorite team (and as any good Bostonian will suffer from, a healthy amount of my east coast bias). We then switched leagues, moving on to the heartland and some of baseball’s oldest clubs in the N.L. Central, then kept carpetbagging out to the Pacific (via Texas) on our way to the American League’s wild collection of western teams. Now, we start the journey back. Today, the National League West gets a soccer makeover. Then it’ll be on to the A.L. Central and finally, the N.L. East, where - with the possibility of a special codicil or two - we’ll put a bow on this whole “Major League Teams get Soccer Jerseys” thing and consider what comes next.

As I’ve been creating these pieces, a bit of a template has emerged; I write a splashy first paragraph, and then use the second to introduce some new wrinkle to the project. No need today; the rules are the same, if you’ve been reading these, you know the drill. If this is your first S.O.O.C. piece, it might be helpful to start at the beginning with the A.L. East teams for some “out-of-context” context. So, no new rules, not much background; just five soccer looks for the interesting group of clubs (two American classics, two heady newcomers, and one fascinating amalgam of baseball influences) making up the National League West. Here we go:

Los Angeles Dodgers

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Let’s begin with one of the biggest identities in American sport - the crisp, clean, Chavez Ravine, Kirk Gibson made me disbelieve what I jes’ seen, L.A. Dodgers. I don’t have a strong personal connection to the Dodgers’ L.A. incarnation, but I imagine that, as an upstate New York kid who hated the Yankees and loved the Red Sox, the Brooklyn club would have at least pulled at my loyalties. My pop has regaled me with tales about the three-team era of New York baseball - including the time he lost his little brother, my uncle, at Ebbets Field. (My then 8-or-so year-old uncle ended up back outside the stadium on the nearby streets of Sullivan Place, realized his mistake, and befitting the boys’ Long Island upbringing, was able to talk - bribe? - his way back in to the game.)

The Brooklyn Dodgers have often felt to me like the Red Sox’ natural analogue in the National League; based on affection, passion, and oh-so-close futility, they seemed a better match to the Sox than the Cubs ever have (whose futility has historically been more of the “So, how many games back are we? You want a beer?” variety). Ebbets Field itself, such a landmark of its time, would be favorably compared to Fenway Park had it survived to meet its 100th birthday this year.

And yet the Dodgers did not hesitate to move on from their infamous ‘Bums’ characterization. They travelled west swiftly (the decision and mechanics happened over just a few months during the winter of 1957–58) and hit the ground running once they arrived. The club adapted to their new surroundings immediately, and evolved with conviction and confidence to keep pace with its new Californian surroundings. Winners of just one (remarkable) World Series towards the end of their time in Brooklyn, the Dodgers touched down in L.A. and promptly won three more championships in their first eight seasons as a west coast team. That they did so with the same nickname, same colors, and almost exactly the same uniforms belied their transformation into a assertive, victorious identity. The Dodgers represent a very particularly American story - feeling overshadowed and worn back east, they left behind loved ones to find prosperity in the promised land - California - and did. Ultimately, they decided it was a good place to be from; now you can’t tell the Dodgers from natives. They may not wear it on their sleeves (not often, anyway), but if you compare the Dodgers’ rotund, friendly old Brooklyn ‘B’ to the crisp, freeway-straight lines that form an ‘LA’ intersection on the club’s current cap, you’ll have all the emotional knowledge you need to reconstruct the Dodgers’ story.

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!

All along the way, their strong visual and cultural tradition has held the team in good stead. I wanted to a) honor the Dodger story with these jerseys, and b) keep that timeless identity sharp and simple, just as a classic baseball brand should be. So first, the color. This look emphasizes blue in all its glory. Though the Dodgers play in traditional home whites and road greys, if a club is name-checked in a well-understood phrase about color - like, say, Dodger Blue - it’s hard to bypass the opportunity to use it. Plus, this is soccer; color is king. (Quick aside: I’ve often argued that even the most notorious all-white-kitted teams - Real Madrid, Tottenham and England to name a few - present white as a primary color, instead of as a base or default color as is customary in baseball. It’s a subtle, but real, difference between the visual languages of soccer and baseball.)

So in a soccer context, the Dodgers are blue - and what a blue. Bright but conservative, it’s perfect for a flagship brand and evokes thoughts of Chelsea or Italy. But this treatment goes beyond blue; there’s more going on in the fabric itself, where Dodger history starts to play a role in the look. Two all-time great Dodger uniforms are hiding in the jersey’s textile design. imageFirst, the shirt has a slight shine to it; this references one of the most interesting sartorial ideas in baseball history (if not the most practical): satin jerseys for night games. The mid–40s Dodgers actually wore satin, head to toe, for some evening games to give their players an extra sheen under the lights. Allow me to quote a capsule from the auction of a game-worn satin Dodgers uniform:

It was believed that the reflective properties of the fabric made the garments easier to see under the lights. Night baseball was in its infancy in the early 1940s and it is understandable that teams would try to make adjustments to take into account the new conditions presented by playing games at night. Apparently, the benefits were not great or the style was not popular with the players, as the satin uniforms were retired following the 1944 season, never to return.

This is such a visual phenomenon, to me, that it has to be referenced in the Dodgers’ soccer look. Luckily, soccer shirts can support a bit more flair than baseball uniforms, so a judicious application of a satin-like shine is welcome here.

The other historic reference is also embedded in the jersey fabric itself. You’ll notice a subtle checkeredimage pattern represented on the jersey’s surface; this is intended to signify a very slight “quilted” effect that the material would be woven with. This effect does a few things; first, it separates the jersey from other predominantly blue shirts one might encounter around the league, and lends it something visually distinctive without compromising the simplicity of the look. Second, it pays homage to another all-time classic Dodger uniform - that of the 1916 club who went to the World Series (and lost, to Babe Ruth’s Red Sox) in splendid checkered jerseys. Taking the pinstripe to the next (horizontal) level, the checker look never really caught on with the Dodgers or around baseball, but it remains an absolute touchstone for baseball visual identity.

So we’ve represented the Dodgers’ early history and peak Brooklyn years; the rest of the look is straight-up modernimage L.A. A confident, white L.A. logo sits above the breast; beneath it, six stars for the championships the club has won. Five L.A. championship stars, in white, surround one sentimental blue star in the center, for the clubs’ first, and lone Brooklyn-based, World Series victory in 1955. imageThe manufacturer is Rawlings, a long-time baseball-friendly brand and a deserving partner for a classic identity like the Dodgers; the sponsor is Singapore Airlines, a premier air carrier, who operates a substantial US hub out of LAX to many points in East Asia. Much like Emirates or Air Asia, who sponsor big clubs in Europe, I believe at least one big American brand would gain a imagehigh-status corporate airline partner, and so the Dodgers are it.

The only other jersey details are pure white trim on the collar, sleeves, and shirt ends, name and number in white block, the M.L.B. logo - and one final touch: the inside back collar is trimmed in red, an homage to the simple splash of red on the front of the Dodgers’ uniforms that gives the jersey just the right amount of personality.

And with that, we have a soccer identity. These Dodger blues are an understated, affectionate homage to the team the Dodgers were, and have become.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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And now for something completely different. Unlike the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks have a very short history, very little visual consistency, and do not embody classic baseball Americana in their DNA. They are an expansion team playing in a huge desert stadium to fans that haven’t always clamored for baseball. There are a few notable Diamondbacks milestones, almost all occurring during the 2001 World Series when they proved that a) Mariano Rivera was not a cyborg, b) Rudy Giuliani couldn’t control sporting events with his magic “Police and Fireman” hat, and c) they won the whole damn thing when everyone in the country was paying attention. You can throw a decent amount of success in the N.L. West into the mix - they’ve won the division five times, a good haul for a team only 15 years old - but still, the D-Backs are a club just starting to build on-field traditions. And there are even fewer visual moments in Diamondbacks history worth remembering; the pinstriped, black, white, purple, teal and gold look they started with, for instance, is not showing up on Umbro’s Pinterest board any time soon. I mean, even Ryan Seacrest ain’t busier than that jersey, hey now! (Cue the ALF rimshot.)

The D-Backs debuted at an interesting moment in sports fashion. The 1990s were generally terrible times for new sports identities; even proud, classic brands (Pistons - though you could pick almost any NBA team during this era - Capitals, Angels) had trouble making it through unscathed, but new teams like Arizona never had a chance. By the late 90s, American sports design language was coming into the sad, post-grunge phase of its “corporate cartoon” movement (kicked off by minor league baseball, breaking mainstream with the San Jose Sharks and peaking with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim). And like any movement that starts with promise and ends with Nickleback, the last vestiges of the “exciting new sound” (one could say the opening bars of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the Sharks insignia; I’ll be a snob and offer Mudhoney wailing on “Here Comes Sickness” and the Chattanooga Lookouts logo) ends with imitators and opportunists hitching along, mixing in warmed-over, pandering influences in a desperate attempt to keep the ride alive. In the end, you get pastiche that nobody really believes in. In Arizona’s case, it was teal and black and purple - all once-fresh early 90s sports design staples - being smashed up with “traditional” pinstripes and 50s-style vests with colored undersleeves. Grunge meets the power ballad; teal meets pinstripe. (Yes, the late 90s had some issues.)

To their credit, and even though they won a famous World Series victory in that original look, the Diamondbacks have understood the need to change. And change they have - dropping all previous colors save black, adding sandy tan and burnt red tones, and mainstreaming their jersey templates. This has been positive for the team, and they by and large look good in this new visual world. But still, funkiness persists: they didn’t drop their questionable original logo - a snake howling inside an A, I guess - just repainted it when the new colors came in. The logo situation is made stranger by the fact that they have a serviceable and much cooler alternate logo that they use all the time - a better diamondback snake in a threatening ‘D’ posture - that could easily take over main duties. Right now the two logos have joint custody, and I know who I hope wins out. Also, the team deserves both credit and skepticism for using the popular ‘D-Backs’ abbreviation on the jerseys themselves; it’s weird, I’m not sure the team knows where its going, but ultimately I kind of like it. That’s a similar path to the one taken by the word “Sox”, after all. (Maybe the club should follow the example of their ’97 expansion sibling and drop their moniker’s troublesome first half altogether. I can see it now: the Arizona ’Bax.)

So that’s the Diamondbacks, visually - bizarre though circumstance, improved by reflection, and an insistence on quirkiness. I tried to use these traits, and designed with them in mind to create a soccer jersey that has a lot of visual verve - but within a structured template. The basics: first, it’s halved diagonally, with tan getting the upper portion and dark red the lower. imageEach color block has thin horizontal stripes just a slight bit darker than the base color - a classic fútbol style - that meet along the diagonal divide in an offset pattern. This ridge is my interpretation of the jagged “diamond” pattern the team uses when it can, expressed in the language of soccer design. I could have just put diamonds directly on the jersey, but Arizona’s are weird, and anyway I wanted to do something less literal here. The stripes fade back into the jersey as they stretch away from the intersection, imageleaving the impression of a wide sash. I’m hoping to evoke something reptilian in the way the shapes come together - it has the look of a snake’s spine, or something camouflaged on the desert floor. The patterns also pay homage to the American Southwest and its distinctive design language. The overall look has some imageplayfulness to it, but it’s clean too; the colors pair well and are accented at the top end by a heritage white (for the team sponsor and, on the back, player name) and at the bottom with pure black for the club’s logo, collar and sleeve ends, and player number.

The logo is the ‘D’ version I enjoy, set by itself without a wordmark (as I think it could begin to acquire some meaningful weight as a wordless insignia if given the chance). Within the logo, seemingly protected byimage the diamondback, is a single black star for the club’s ’01 Series victory. Paired with the logo, the manufacturer’s mark, for Majestic (seeing as they make every M.L.B. jersey, it was time they got in on this thing), blends into the tan field. Above both, the black collar comes to fang-like points at the neck. For the club’s sponsor,image I’ve selected U-Haul, who are headquartered in Phoenix and who certainly have business with a national sports-loving audience. Around back, the player name is in the heritage white, and the number (in the proprietary D-Backs font) is in black. The M.L.B. logo sits at the top.

This isn’t a run-of-the-mill design, but that’s not what the team would want. This is a jersey with distinction - and the Diamondbacks have the environment and the style (earned the hard way) to pull it off.

San Diego Padres

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You could talk about the Padres for days. This is a team with such a rich visual identity - one that’s never quite settled perfectly, but with so much potential - that it’s hard to know where to begin with a project like this. You could go back to the team’s M.L.B. debut, in 1969, or to their roots as a storied Pacific Coast League franchise dating to 1936. (That club actually formed decades earlier still, but moved up and down the coast before settling in San Diego.) You could tackle the team’s distinctive relationship with the color brown, or their willingness (along with the Astros, A’s and White Sox) to embrace visual insanity during the 1970s. And boy, are there are typefaces to discuss. There hasn’t been much major league on-field success - just two World Series appearances, and no wins; but two of the greatest pure hitters of all time have been associated with the Padres identity - in the modern era, Tony Gwynn wore brown pinstripes for the duration of his Hall of Fame career, and when the Padres played below the major league level, they were Ted Williams’ original club.

Let’s dive into the jersey as a way to look at the Padres’ history. The base color is a two-tone brown sand, in keeping with the team’s current color scheme; until a few years ago, they had been using this shade as an actual away jersey color, but have returned to the more traditional grey in recent seasons. imageI’m using it here because “sand” is still one of the teams’ main colors and still distinctively San Diego. The body panel is shaded lighter - verging on vintage off-white - but the arms, shoulders and collar stay rooted in deep tan sand color. And the clubs’ use of dark “sand”, really, is an echo of one of their core identity features: brown.

The Padres began in 1969 as the only team using brown in baseball; for many years after, they struggled to find a way to make it fit with whatever current design trend was happening on the major league landscape. They paired it with yellow; they pared it with orange and with navy. They used more, and then less of it. At some point during the mid–90s, they gave up and switched to a less interesting navy-and-orange combo, but brown couldn’t be denied. It crept back in, first as that sand-color, and then as a component to one of the Padres most successful, distinctive identity promotions: their use of military camouflage as a design element, to honor the large U.S. armed forces presence in San Diego. (The camo has been tones of brown and earthy grey, evolving with the military’s prevailing style.) Brown will always be hanging around the fringes of the club - unless they bring it back front and center one day (and for my money, that day isn’t too far off). This jersey’s use of brown tones pays homage to the club’s current and former uses of that color family.

Navy blue is the other primary color on the jersey, and it is a stark, fresh bolt in the middle of the lighter tan shades. imageThe logo used here is the team’s official club mark - with their insignia inside a roundel - instead of the cap mark alone. This allows the seal to be surrounded by one of the jersey’s signature elements: a visual callback to the Padres famous bubbly font face of the 1970s and 80s. The Padres could introduce a thousand new ways to treat their name in type, and nothing will top their old, round treatment for distinctiveness. A few years ago, typefaces in this style were anathema to modern design, but trends have come back around in this direction, and if they treaded responsibly, I actually think the club could reintroduce this wordmark without kitsch as a part of a stronger Padres brand. Here, just the ‘P’ is presented in the darker sand tone as more of graphic component than a letter, purely to pay respect to a memorable piece of baseball design history.

There are several other distinctive touches that make this jersey special. First, the regular details - the players’ name is treated in two-tone sand, and the number in navy with sand outlines and the Padres’ current font face. imageThe manufacturer is Mexican brand Atletica, who make uniforms for many prominent Latin American soccer clubs - and with their proximity to the border, I thought San Diego might benefit from cross-cultural partnership. image The sponsor is Petco - whose name adorns the Padres’ stadium, both because I found it appropriate and because I couldn’t bring myself to use the McDonald’s arches.

Second, as mentioned above, the military plays a big role in San Diego life and in the team’s visual identity. The Padres wear full camo jerseys at times - at first they were one-off concepts, and with popularity and familiarity, imagethe camo jersey has been elevated to an official “alternate” status. I decided to honor that role and its unique visual contribution with a permanent arm band, on the left sleeve. The band is tonally matched to the sand uniform color, and features the armed forces’ current “marine digital” style.

Third and most important is something I’m calling the “legacy band”, imagewhich is represented as sewn into the shirt’s bottom seam, and wraps about three-fifths of the way around. Most of the front seam is left plain, to keep the face of the jersey uncluttered, but the band starts at the jersey’s front left, transverses the back, and loops back around to the front right. What is the legacy band? Think of it as a visual timeline of San Diego Padres uniform history. imageStarting with their earliest incarnation, in 1936, and jumping to their major league incarnation in 1969, the Padres always existed in one form or another, and they have worn all manner of jerseys. I wanted to find a way to honor their previous identities - from colors they no longer associate with, like red, to styles they are unlikely to fully bring back, like brown and mustard yellow. San Diego has one of the richest visual traditions in baseball, and this band pays homage to it. Starting with the front left color panel, which is a muted charcoal to represent the club’s 1936 color scheme, each panel leaps forward in identity evolution - to black pinstripes (the uniform Ted Williams wore) in the late 30s and early 40s, then to red, white and blue in the 1950s, when the Padres won a few P.C.L. titles. About halfway across the jersey, brown and yellow-gold appear - this marks the debut of the major league club and its very distinctive scheme that takes the team from the late 60s through to the early 1980s. Brown pinstripes appear next, then orange (replacing yellow), then the switch in the 90s to navy, and finally incorporating gold, sand and deeper navy in the early 2000s (where the band wraps back around to the jersey front).

Why the legacy band? imageIt’s important to give San Diego their due as a baseball city, with a heritage that stretches back nearly to the dead ball era and a direct lineage that continues through to this day. The Pacific Coast League, it’s easy to forget, was a viable third league in the 1950s: its teams bought, sold and traded for players with major league clubs, and for a time it was considered an “open” league by Major League Baseball - a status above that of Triple A. The adoption of air travel, and the subsequent arrival of the Giants and Dodgers to the west coast, spelled the end of the P.C.L.’s heyday, but for a moment there, it was very, very close to becoming a third Major League. The Padres won P.C.L. titles during this era, and are the only surviving link to it in the majors today. This history should be celebrated by the club, and could be in a simple, unobtrusive and absolutely unique manner with this design element.

The Padres have one of the best visual legacies in baseball, but you wouldn’t know it from their current identity. I hope this jersey relives some of that legacy for fans of the team and of baseball.

Colorado Rockies

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Not every new club has a chance to be timeless; the Rockies do. They play in a major market, Denver, where sports are king; when they launched, they had an entire United States timezone to themselves (and for half the year, they still do). Baseball fans in Denver waited decades for a team to put their hearts into, and since getting one they’ve lent fantastic support. On the field, the Rockies have mostly kept up their end of the bargain, fielding good teams and even throwing in exciting stuff like, oh, a “winning 21 of 22 down the stretch to make the World Series” now and again. The Rockies are not a flagship M.L.B. franchise yet, but they have the potential to be one.

The only thing about the Rockies - and they’re not in serious jeopardy at the moment, but like somebody with high cholesterol, they should be careful about how they conduct themselves  - is that with their color scheme, there is every temptation to get gaudy. Purple, black, silver, mountains, big, bold letters, and a born-on date of 1993 - there is every chance the club’s identity could end up disastrously over-rendered. You just have to be extra-careful with purple; it’s beautiful, unique and if you overdo it by even a few percent, you invite disaster. And not even John Stockton’s family wants another “1996 Utah Jazz” situation. The key is to be conservative.

That’s what I’ve tried to do with this Rockies soccer-context look. The jersey is slightly faded off-white, befitting an identity that aspires to be timeless, and purple is used very, very carefully - but it’s so potent, it can’t help but have a large impact. imageThe cut collar, and the interiors of the “CR” team mark (which is used here as the crest) get the honors on the front of the shirt - that’s it. There’s absolutely no mistaking what the club’s primary color is; the restraint actually helps emphasize the symbolic force behind the color.

I’ve tried to keep the entire Rockies jersey to those same standards of restraint and simplicity. Below the collar, a small v-neck is done in very mild grey, matching the sleeve ends and the Adidas logo. (If nothing else, I’d like this design to serve as an open letter to Adidas that they don’t need to weave the three stripes into absolutely everything they produce.) The already iconic, imageinterlocked CR is the team’s crest, and serves the role quite nicely. Below, two final front-side elements: the sponsor, Coors (like Miller and Anheuser-Busch, it was almost preordained here) in a slightly deeper grey, and behind the sponsor mark, a three-peaked visual that suggests a set of mountains (or two sets, if you count the negative space below the grey design as a second set of white-capped peaks).

This mountain design element stresses Colorado’s unique home field advantage - elevation - and echoes the Rockies name and the mountain elements in its current club logo image(and the very same mountains you can see from the right field stands at Coors Field). The mountain motif is more than decorative, too - it has a second symbolic meaning, with the three peaks representing the three important baseball identities to call Denver home through history. First the Bears (from the 50s until the mid–80s) and then the Zephyrs (until the Rockies formed) paved the way for major league ball; they are honored by the first two peaks. The third peak, touching the ‘CR’ crest, marks the Rockies. Around back, the motif repeats, this time covered by the player name and number (in purple, outlined in light grey), and the M.L.B. logo.

Throughout the design imageprocess for the Rockies, I tried to keep things as simple and elegant as the parameters of the project would allow - the better to give the team and its own personality a chance to grow into their identity. As a club that’s now twenty years old, the Rockies are right on the precipice between new and timeless. I hope this jersey would push them towards the latter.

San Francisco Giants

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I just spent a handful of paragraphs explaining why the Dodgers needed to express traditional consistency in their soccer look, the Diamondbacks boldness, the Padres legacy, and the Rockies simplicity. And now, the fun part. I’d like to explain how the San Francisco Giants need, at this moment in their history, to express one thing with their visual style: authority.

This is is the Giants’ time. They’ve won two of the last three World Series. Their stadium is on the very, very short list of perfect places in the world to watch a baseball game. Their city, by virtue of the tech industry, sets the agenda for modern society. (Did I mention that its got all the benefits of east coast urbanity, plus better weather, a less parochial populace, real burritos and that Sunday football starts at 10am? Anyway.)

What happens next for the Giants? They can’t ascend to become a top baseball identity; they already are one, and have been for decades. They could stress tradition - say, take player names off the jerseys like the Yanks and Sox do! - except they already do that, too. They could keep winning, and I’m sure they’re planning on it, but that’s nothing new. Where does the identity go?

My answer, expressed in this soccer style, and in the fashion of how a soccer club might think about this circumstance, is to get visibly stronger. To project power. To roll achievement into visual capital. This is a moment, rare in a sports organization’s existence, when the style in which one wears their success can redefine their permanent perception - and it’s a moment that will pass if it’s not taken advantage of.  It is the right time for the Giants to be all black.

Black, in soccer, is part of the alchemy that transforms new success into permanent reputation. Clubs eager to be considered upper echelon, like Chelsea and Manchester City have turned to black uniforms as a way to tell the world that they weren’t going away after victorious moments. Perennial winners like Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona use black to enforce their dominant profile. Nations that have no historical connection to black - Mexico comes to mind in soccer, and also English rugby - have used black jerseys to send the message that they should not be ignored on big stages. Other nations, like Holland, have elevated black into a permanent part of their color scheme because of its potency. The common thread: wearing black is what a club does to send a message - if it has the cachet to do so.

Wonderfully, the Giants not only have that cachet, but they already rely on black as a part of their core identity. The use, in a soccer context, couldn’t be more natural. Let’s look at the details.

First, the black is all-encompassing - a flat, matte feel that almost seems to absorb light. (Just to clarify - I’m describing the jersey, but this also applies to Brian Wilson’s beard.) Not only would the matte style work well with the idea of projecting strength, and would set up a nice hypothetical contrast with the rival Dodgers and their satin-y shine. In this jersey, the Giants become a club to fear; they’re the Grim Reaper, calmly and methodically taking opponents down, or Darth Vader, imageforce-choking the life out of lesser teams. (I know there are at least a few Giants/Raiders fans that would be excited about that.)

The details reinforce the simple black look, and give the other points of the Giants’ identity their due. Bright orange and white trim on the sleeves and collar highlight the team’s colors, imageand are buffered against the full black body by a secondary, deep coal color (in bands on sleeve trim, and around the entirety of the collar, dipping into a v-neck design). The manufacturer logo (Nike - this seemed like their style) and the sponsor, AT&T (who name the team’s stadium) are rendered in that same deep grey / coal color. On the breast, the famous ‘SF’ logo mark, and above it, seven stars - the first five are deep grey, representing the more historical championships won by the New York Giants. imageThe sixth star is slightly lighter and larger, indicating the team’s quite recent 2010 World Series win; the final star is the largest and bright orange to indicate that the Giants are the current holders of baseball’s championship. imageOn the jersey back, only the rich, orange number (no player names for the Giants), jersey trim and the M.L.B. logo disrupt the dark tones.

The Giants have a lot of power right now; other clubs need to present friendliness or tradition, but at this moment, the Giants need to intimidate their competition just a little bit. They have both the history and the current authority to wear black proudly; in a soccer context, this would be the moment to demonstrate that power by doing so. I hope this design, and the thought behind it, would work towards helping the club stay on top of the baseball world.

And that’s your N.L. West! 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!