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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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About the Cream, It's Clear: Close, But Not Quite

Update: It’s official. I don’t believe the Mets that the natural color is from 1962.

It’s an open secret that next year the Mets will have a cream-colored version of the pinstripes uniform, though reports are all over the map about whether the white pinstripes will still exist and whether the annoying black drop shadow will remain in either or both.

Like a lot of things the Mets have done in the last year or so, most significantly the big new mostly but not completely great stadium they now call home, I want to like this but think it misses the mark by a small but frustrating degree. And again, I detect an unhappy whiff of trying to give the franchise some manufactured antiquity.

The original Mets’ pinstripes were white — reappropriating the blue of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the orange of the New York Giants. Jet-age white, JFK Camelot white, moon-race white, pre-hippie Sixties white. A basic and enduring legacy of the Mets is that they’re the New Breed — the successors to the Dodgers and Giants, the Anti-Yankees, the team you’d root for by being funny and raucous and ironic instead of dour and demanding. The Mets were shiny and new, not some pre-aged franchise meant to feel like it had roots in the days of John McGraw and Connie Mack. (And in their early years, remember, they consistently outdrew the Yankees.) Yes, the first Mets clubs were an old-age home for a number of former Dodgers, Giants and Yankees — but with a couple of exceptions (Casey Stengel, irrepressible in any context) those players were sops to Joan Payson’s sentiments. The legends of the early Mets aren’t great players in their autumn years, but castoffs and never-to-be’s — Marv Throneberry and Hot Rod Kanehl and Choo Choo Coleman. They’re the players the early Mets were stuck with, rather than the imports the club thought would draw fans.

This is the same misconception that I objected to with the collages of Mets that appeared outside Citi Field before Opening Day and inside Citi Field late in the summer. I understand that the Mets wanted to create an old-style park that departed from Shea’s My Chevy Van aesthetics, and for the most part that was fine with me — I like the mix of brick, green seats, black walls and ironwork. But while applauding the Mets finally adding actual Mets stuff to the park, I don’t think the sepia images work — as I’ve written before, Tug McGraw and Lenny Dykstra and Turk Wendell were vivid, Technicolor players. I don’t want to see them through a nostalgic patina, any more than I want to hear, say, “Ashokan Farewell” after a loss. I love Ken Burns, but this isn’t the place for him.

Stripped of racing stripes and drop shadows and other fooferall, the pinstripes are a perfect Mets uniform, mindful of ancient baseball traditions yet mildly rebellious against them — the garish blue and orange atop the classic pinstripes almost looks like a graffiti version of the Yankees’ classically stodgy uniform. Put cream in the mix, though, and they look like manufactured nostalgia for an old-timer’s day. Bring the pinstripes back, but not as some faux imagining of what they might have been.

* * *

If that sounds conservative and retrograde, know that I often arrive at Citi in my black NEW YORK road jersey and a gray-and-blue Mets cap with the NY in stars and stripes. I like the black uniforms, just as I like hearing that an upcoming game will feature special, one-off uniforms.

I’m not against cream — I think it could be a great addition to the palette. But instead of adding cream to the pinstripes, why not take a page from the Giants and use it as a replacement for the white home uniforms? That would be a classic look but feel new instead of fake antique, and it would look a lot less busy than the cream pinstripes.

With that, can I revisit something that’s bugged me for years? I hate not knowing what uniform Charlie Samuels has picked out on a given day. Besides the fact that it ignores the very definition of “uniform,” there’s always a jarring moment when I’m listening to the radio and Howie Rose tells me what the Mets are wearing for the game. It makes you realize whatever image you had in your head of the Mets down there on the field was wrong, and it throws you right out of the narrative — until Howie fills you in, they’re Schrodinger’s Mets. That sense of randomness stopped being cute a long time ago. By now it’s just irritating and makes the Mets feel like they’re making it up as they go, a feeling there’s been entirely too much of in recent years.

I know the die is cast for 2010, marketing plans and budgets being what they are, so here’s a plea for the Mets to consider in 2011. It’s a predictable plan for what the Mets would wear, one that includes cream uniforms and enough variations that the marketing folks would have plenty to sell:

Home night games: White pinstripes and blue caps (burn those horrid two-tone caps).

Home day games: Cream uniforms and blue caps.

Weekend night games and holiday games: Black home uniforms and black caps.

Road night games: Gray uniforms and blue caps.

Road day games and holidays: Black road uniforms and black caps.

Switch those around if you like — cream unis can be for home night games, black road unis can be for road night games, etc. Just make it make sense.

To this, add a wildcard: Do whatever you want on commemorative days. I love Negro League throwback jerseys. I’m all for one-off throwbacks like the uniforms with the big NY. (Minus David Wright taking a fastball to the head.) Wear the New York-area agency caps on September 11th. Wear the racing stripes next time the ’86 Mets are honored. Wear stars-and-stripes uniforms on a day to salute veterans. Wear pink uniforms along with the pink bats and money for breast-cancer research on Mother’s Day. Heck, have Jeff McKnight Day and wear that horrible uniform with the tail for one game. By now the Mercury Mets would probably draw a nostalgic laugh (as long as the other team played along). Have fun with this stuff — we won’t mind, and we’ll open our wallets. But give us a baseline for experimentation. And leave alone what doesn’t need to be messed with.

(Images thieved from Metsblog and No Mas.)

17 comments to About the Cream, It’s Clear: Close, But Not Quite

  • Anonymous

    Wow, if you waited a few more minutes to post this you'd have been MUCH angrier at this stupid team. I beg and plead the Mets to not call the cream jerseys “new”. They're effing not.
    Is there a sports franchise on the planet more out of touch with their fanbase than the Mets?! We ask for simple cranberry sauce and they keep giving us Cranberry Sauce a'la Bart and expecting us to smile and thank them for a lazy, misfired effort.

  • Anonymous

    I really don't care about uniforms much, I'm not one for “It has to be only two uniforms” or “OMG NO DROPSHADOW OR BLACK”. I like the black just fine, although I avoid wearing it in the summer for obvious reasons. I didn't even hate the mercury mets thing, although I do tend to like quirky in all avenues of life, so can't really go by me.
    I kinda like the blue/black hats, although i do intend to buy one of the batting practice blue ones 39 50 or whatever they call them.
    I wasn't oohed and aahed by the new uniforms for next year, but I agree, some uniformity in when and where would be nice. And I enjoy when teams do Negro league stuff, or the big NY when they played the Giants. I think the commemorative, particularly the stars and stripes thing, is getting a little out of hand. (leading the way towards a baseball world more and more advertised and sponsored. But then, at least we don't sponsor strike outs with a stupid jingle..)
    The one thing I will say though, is that if MLB wants to do the stars and stripes commemorative..have the common sense to let the team choose which color of the flag hats to wear. There is NO reason why the Mets should EVER have on red hats. Blue is in the flag too.
    Seriously, there are so many ways to donate and honor veterans, and while I could see a Mets fan buying a stars and stripes cap, I'm sure their would be many more sold if they were blue caps.

  • Anonymous

    Image Mets sent in an e-mail “New Alert” here.

  • Anonymous

    well, it was a new news alert anyway..
    I'm not sure I can get overly excited about a jersey that looks roughly the same and is just a slightly dirtier white.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe it's me, but I see little if any difference between this “retro” jersey and the pinstriped jerseys they've worn for years. And the Wilpons want us to shell out over $100 for this? Come on.

  • Anonymous

    This is a scary question, but it has to be asked considering the poor mismatching trend MLB has had with retro-jerseys: are the pants going to be cream colored as well?
    Would anyone be surprised if they weren't?

  • Anonymous

    Hmm. Maybe they'll just have orange pants and totally throw it all off.
    on an unrelated note, when are Balco jokes going to stop being funny?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, apologies for that one. Some days you can't think of a decent headline. I Bitch About New Uniforms didn't seem much better….

  • Anonymous

    The Mets, once again presented with a no-brainer solution to their marketing and image problems, managed to somehow screw this up, even slightly.

  • Anonymous

    I thought it was cute.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jason,
    I agree with Ryan – other than the lettering, the “new” retro jerseys look quite similar to the traditional uniforms worn on occasion at home games. Only difference, as you point out, is that it will go back to being cream.
    Big deal. A lot made about nothing. They will wear it only on ocassion anway.It's merely a public relations scheme by the Wilpons to quell backlash and convince fans they are indeed connected to the team's history and tradition.
    Their email stressed replica jerseys could soon be purchased. Therefore, the retro jersey is also a sales ploy, something more reflective of the Wilpon history and tradition of never overlooking an opportunity to make a buck than anything else.

  • Anonymous

    Now that I've seen better photos of the new jersey, I'm even more annoyed.
    Still dislike the cream with the pinstripes, for all the above reasons.
    Don't believe the Mets that the cream reflects the color of the original uniform.
    Hate that awful drop shadow.
    If you're going to go retro, go retro — give us the uniform as it was, with allowances for changes everybody understands (not wool, numbers on the back, etc.).
    If you're going to do something new, do something new.
    If you're going to do something half-assed and neither fish nor fowl, and then concoct some self-serving bullshit about it … well, then you're the people who run the 2009-2010 Mets.
    Sigh. If I didn't have 33 years invested in this franchise, I really think I'd just give up.

  • Anonymous

    Cream-colored or white, I really don't understand why the Mets can't just wear pinstripes at home every day, and the gray “NEW YORK” uniforms on the road, every day. That's what a baseball team wears. Even in the 80s, when the uniforms were pullovers and had racing stripes, they were pinstriped. Solid-color jerseys with white or grey pants are for softball teams, or at worst, batting practice. And the number of uniforms the Mets wear just throws fuel on the “this-is-a-team-with-an-identity-crisis” fire. It's not a fashion show, it's a ballgame… although with the amount of time and fanfare they devote to this garbage, you wonder where they find time to make actual baseball decisions. Oh, right, they don't.

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only Mets diehard who's NOT particularly a fan of home pinstripes at all?
    Just always struck me as a bit too Bronx-influenced.
    Happy T'Day, all.
    -Z

  • Anonymous

    As I had to yell at someone earlier, the Yankees are neither the first, last, or only team to use pinstripes. Nor have they trademarked them.
    Generally, as long as it says Mets on it, i like it.

  • Anonymous

    First belonging to the Chicago Cubs of 1907. Pinstripes, much like clapping for two strikes or K-corners, just a baseball thing one team did that most adopted.

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