City Connect hopes to connect to a new generation.
Baseball, long stuck in its blowhard, traditionalist ways, is doing something cool alongside Nike in 2021 and in the coming years: All 30 MLB squads are getting really sick alternate uniforms, dubbed the “City Connect” line, which are supposed to capture the essence and reputation of the cities the teams represent.
So far in 2021, four of the teams’ uniforms have been unveiled, with three more to come over the next month. The Red Sox, Marlins, White Sox and Cubs all got new alternate looks, with the Giants, Diamondbacks and Dodgers still on the slate for reveals.
Really, it’s a welcome sight for MLB and its partnership with Nike: One of the easiest ways for MLB to attract eyeballs, sell merchandise and push the game into a new generation is to push the envelope with its fashion choices.
Of the four uniforms released so far, all have been refreshing — albeit a bit jarring — designs. The Red Sox were first, trading their iconic red and white for a Boston Marathon-inspired look, and Nike hasn’t looked back since. Kind of.
So, of the four uniforms released, here’s how they rank:
Nike City Connect uniforms
The Cubbies may not own all of Chicago — or even the best City Connect uniform in the Windy City this year — but the look is nice enough.
While the muted blue is OK, there’s something cool about seeing “Wrigleyville” on the front of the uniforms in the same font as the famed Wrigley Field marquee. The hats are excellent, too.
Where the Cubs lose points, though, is the real lack of inspiration in the design: While the campaigning of the uniforms tries to make it seem that “Wrigleyville” is the centerpoint of all 77 neighborhoods in Chicago (or something), the reasoning is … really just kind of weak. There’s no “connect” here. Just branding for the ballpark.
Best uniform feature: The hats, featuring the six-pointed Chicago star, are instantly some of the best in baseball.
Worst uniform feature: The blue is a little dull and lifeless, especially when compared with the other uniforms on this list. Maybe they should have really gone for it with ivy green.
3. Red Sox
Inspired by the Boston Marathon finish line, the Red Sox traded their iconic white and red for yellow and blue, emblematic colors for the city. The idea is certainly out of the box and while the socks (or sox) weren’t red, they’re appealing enough.
The Red Sox went bold with colors that don’t match their uniform pallet but mean something to the city of Boston, and they wore them for Patriots’ Day this year. The font across the chest mirrors the stencil on Boylston Street, the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
It’s always better to go bold with uniform designs, and these, while teetering on the edge of “not it,” are definitely a welcome look for the Red Sox.
Best uniform feature: The bold new colors might not be familiar to Red Sox fans, but they are familiar to Boston denizens.
Worst uniform feature: But really, no red at all? Feels like a little bit of a miss.
2. White Sox
Really, the White Sox City uniforms could be tied for No. 1 here, but there’s something about the “Southside” getup that doesn’t fit. But, all in all, they’re among the best of the redesigns so far.
Thankfully, Nike didn’t needlessly mess with the classic black, white and silver color scheme of the Sox, pairing that pallet with the gothic script from their logo for the “Southside” across the chest. Altogether, the uniforms play true to the franchise but still provide a really fresh look and a good spin on some of the best uniforms in baseball.
Where they lose points: They probably could have done without the pinstripes. There’s something about them that doesn’t fit, and kind of hurts the eyes.
The hats, which simply say “Chi,” don’t shy away from the town’s attitude and reputation, either. That’s how you embrace the spirit of a town with a personality. Take notes, Cubs.
Best uniform feature: The “textured” uniforms that represent the architectural style of the city are just … *chef’s kiss.*
Worst uniform feature: Maybe they could have done without the pinstripes?
The Marlins opting for more black in their uniforms over actual Miami pallet colors in recent years is a disappointment, but their city uniforms aren’t. Couple that with the fact that the Marlins honored the history of the former minor league ballclub the Havana Sugar Kings with the getup, and you have a recipe that mixes perfectly.
The Marlins go for a bright red (“Legacy” red), paying homage to the Sugar Kings, in addition to a shoulder patch that mirrors the patch of the defunct team, as well.
Still, intertwined with the actual design of the uniforms is rich history for the Havana-based ballclub that tried to break into the majors. That’s how you do an alternate uniform: a fresh design with actual meaning. Great job, Marlins.
Best uniform feature: The “Miami Marlins” patch, which is made to resemble the Sugar Kings logo.
Worst uniform feature: They’ll only wear them occasionally.