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The Rays’ Fake Throwback Jerseys Are Here, And They’re… Kind Of Brilliant
It can be fun when teams wear throwback jerseys – especially when those throwback jerseys are better than the ones the team normally wears, and especially when they lead to a uniform redesign that basically turns the team’s permanent uniform into the far superior throwbacks.
But let’s also recognize throwbacks for what they are: a shameless money grab. They’re a shiny new thing the team can dangle in front of you – and then take right back, never to be seen again (or at least only seen once a year), so if you really like that throwback jersey and want to enjoy it all the time, you better buy one yourself.
There’s a way, though, to get even more shameless with your throwbacks: invent fake throwbacks. Oh, they’ll be real in that they’ll exist. Your team will wear them. You’ll definitely market them. They just won’t actually be throwback uniforms. Confused? Let us present the Tampa Bay Rays as an example. Last week, it came out that the team will wear throwback uniforms from 1979 at some point in the future.
The issue: the Rays, of course, were negative-19 years old in 1979. Needless to say, there were no rays uniforms in 1979. Therefore, the “throwbacks” they’re wearing are simply a Rays-styled riff on what ’70s throwbacks tend to look like. These are alternate-universe throwbacks.
And… they’re not half bad, as far as these things go. Check out Joe Maddon modeling them at left – they incorporate the Rays’ current color scheme while cheesing them up all ’70s-like. The letters give off a bit of a retro-Padres vibe, while the caps have an old-Brewers feel. If anything, the fact that the jerseys aren’t bad might make them even more shameless. These jerseys are decent enough to actually be popular. These jerseys being popular = the Rays making big bucks off a DAMN LIE.
Then again, making big bucks off lies isn’t exactly a new idea – one could even call it a throwback. And while the element of nostalgia in these throwbacks is negated by them not being an actual throwback to anything, think of how much actual nostalgia is nothing more than pining for a time that never existed to begin with. Really, the Rays are just upping the revisionist-history factor another level.
We thought this idea was as ridiculous as everyone else did when we first heard about it. It reminded us of a stunt a friend – the friend we did this podcast with, in fact – pulled in high school on Retro Day (a day where everyone wore throwback clothing, if your school didn’t have something similar) where he just wore a plain white t-shirt with “1978″ written on it in Sharpie that obviously wasn’t actually retro. Now? We can’t help but wonder if, as they’ve done so many other times making their small-market bottom-dweller into a contender, if the Rays haven’t once again pulled off a move of sneaky genius.
OK, fine, even if they have, it’s still a ridiculous idea. But we still can’t help but admire the effort.
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- tampa bay rays
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