MLB tradition is as solid as fireworks on July 4 and barbecues on Labor Day, with little room for inventiveness. However, some of baseball’s hard-and-fast rules are about to change – or at least bend a little. For one weekend, August 25 – 27, Major League Baseball is relaxing its policy of insisting that players have only their real names on their jerseys, and it is letting them put their nicknames on their shirts. In addition, the regular MLB insignia will be replaced by a patch bearing a silhouette exhibiting baseball’s five stages of evolution. The new logo will also feature the words, “Thank You,” and, beneath the words, a player can add the name of a person – athlete, relative, or friend – who was instrumental in that player’s growth and development. In other words, for three days in August, the player uniforms will become a lot more personal.
Players Weekend is all about individuality – not ordinarily a strong point in MLB. Players on all 30 MLB teams will wear the nickname-bearing jerseys, which will also have contrasting sleeves. The bright-colored shirts will not be the traditional button-front jerseys; rather, they will be pullovers with colourful hats and socks to match, and with newfangled logos like the Phillies’ new blue Liberty Bell insignia. Players will be allowed to use colourful bats and custom-made gloves, as well; afterwards, this paraphernalia will be auctioned on the MLB website with proceeds going to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation.
If you’re wondering why the sudden interest in variety and creativity in the staid and structured MLB, the answer is simple: young people are turning away from the venerable game and the front office is looking for ways to put them back in the seats. Surveys have shown that only seven percent of those watching baseball are under the age of 18, and that the average age of those who take the time to watch baseball – either in person or on TV – is 57 years of age. Players Weekend, along with the soccer-like jerseys with nicknames, is one more way to attract younger fans and regain some of MLB’s lost allure. It seems doubtful that spiffier uniforms and hi-tech bats can attract a generation of fans with waning interest in the game, but it’s good to see the higher-ups at least trying. It’s a start.
With Players Weekend approaching, the idea is a more relaxed MLB; one in which Yankee rookie Aaron Judge, for instance, can be expected to boast “All Rise” on his uniform shirt. Meanwhile, as the season continues to heat up, there are loads of chances to place wagers on interesting match-ups, including those on Players Weekend. Click here for a list of online bookies in the United Kingdom and check out the great odds and the many MLB markets. Placing a bet on a player or a team is a brilliant way to up the excitement level when you watch Major League Baseball.