Well, we made it. This piece covers the last division I’ve yet to look at - the National League East - and it also marks a full trip around the country and around the Major League bases. As of today, all 30 M.L.B. clubs will have received their Soccer Out of Context re-imagining.
Indulge me for just a second.
Jake glanced out at the mound. Ricky looked a little shell-shocked, but the moment was undeniably his now. The shadow of Haywood’s hulking frame flickered off to the left of Jake’s peripheral vision, every little chopping check-swing designed to intimidate. And why wouldn’t it? The Yankees had been here before. The Indians hadn’t. Jake returned the last warmup pitch, shook out a few quick, involuntary hop-stretches as he always did before settling into his crouch, and prepared himself to talk Haywood’s ear off the second he stepped into the box.
Sixty-odd feet away, Ricky toed the rubber, as ready as he’d ever be. He tried to lock in as the stadium tensed up around him. This was it; this was the whole dream, strung out on a line. One of those excruciating, salivating, only-in-baseball confrontations had been laid at his feet. 2–2 game, ninth inning, bases loaded, slugger up, loser goes home. No matter what else Ricky had done, or would do, he’d always have this.
It was impossible not to sense the moment; everyone in the stadium - hell, the state - could feel it. And during that brief, hanging hesitation between the last warmup toss and a hardy “play ball” from behind the plate, Roger Dorn did too. He bolted from his spot at third towards the mound. Ricky looked over in surprise, and then briefly off into the distance, hoping something would save him. Now? Really? Ah, shit, Jake muttered to himself. Of course Dorn would do this now.
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.
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.
There’s no doubt about it - there’s an appetite for more Soccer Out of Context work. I am thrilled to keep designing. Last time we tackled baseball’s A.L. East; today, we’ll change leagues and locales to see what National League Central division teams would look like if they played soccer for a day.
So the “what if baseball teams had soccer identities for the day” thing was pretty fun. I got a mention in the estimable UniWatch ticker, and that led to a bunch of views and feedback. (You know it’s hot stove season when you’re discussing fantasy uniform minutiae on Twitter.) The conversations were universally great and complimentary.
The best responses regarded the Orioles jersey that I’d worked out. I have to admit, it felt the least complete of the five AL East teams in the exercise; there wasn’t enough of the existing brand there.
I recently finished a big, text-heavy project and needed something frivolous to clear my head. Something fun, you know: visual, sports-y, design-y, kind of interesting to think about, quick and most importantly, completely hypothetical, non-sensical, and pointless.
And so I give you the first (only?) edition of Soccer Out of Context - a look at how other identities and brand properties would appear in the soccer / fútbol aesthetic, instead of their own. For the introductory exercise, I chose my first sporting love, the Boston Red Sox, and their neighbor clubs in the baseball division they call home, the American League East. How would AL East teams be represented in a soccer context?