As they do every season, the Baltimore Orioles underwent a lot of changes since the end of their last campaign. Several well-known players have departed and fresh faces have been brought in as replacements. The same can be said for a couple of coaches. This is a different team than the one that wrapped things up a few months ago.
But a team’s identity is not solely pinned to the players in uniform. In fact, those uniforms they wear are part of a brand. As is the team’s stadium, the logo and a million other superficial things that, on a competitive basis, don’t really matter, but are fundamental to the financial viability of an organization.
So, let’s take a step back from the analytical, nuts and bolts bit of baseball. Ignore the statistics and the play on the field. Let’s get straight up shallow and talk about a couple of aesthetic changes you can expect from the Birds in the 2017 season.
The 25th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards
This is the big one. “The ballpark that forever changed baseball” first opened back on April 6, 1992, which makes this the 26th season it has been in use, but the beginning of April will, of course, mark it’s 25th birthday. Neat! Would have been a cool season to host the All-Star Game. Instead, the Midsummer Classic will be held down in Miami.
Anyway, there is sure to be a lot of “25”-themed stuff throughout the year. The team has already begun by counting down the “top 25” games ever played at the venue with number one set to be revealed on Sunday, April 2, the night before Opening Day 2017. There is a full broadcast schedule online and you can even go onto to YouTube and watch the games you may have missed.
As with any big celebration, you’ve gotta have a logo. The 25th anniversary of OPaCY is no different. It’s a pretty snazzy design if I do say so myself, featuring an orange baseball diamond with 1992 and 2017 located at third and first base, respectively, all surrounding a big gray “25” in front of a brick background. I can dig it.
Introducing our commemorative logo celebrating the upcoming 25th anniversary season of Oriole Park at Camden Yards! pic.twitter.com/p9gsYoNlEL— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) November 4, 2016
The promotional schedule for 2017 has not been released just yet. But we can certainly guess at what some cool giveaways and special events that will be happening. There’s gotta be a reunion of some sort with players from the ‘92 squad, right? Maybe the players don some throwback jerseys from the time period. And there will certainly be a t-shirt giveaway with the newly-created logo.
Notable Orioles that are younger than Camden Yards: Manny Machado (by three months), Chris Lee (four months), Dylan Bundy (seven months), Jayson Aquino (seven months), Jason Garcia (seven months) and both of the the new Rule 5 picks; Anuery Tavarez (eight days) and Anthony Santander (two years and six months).
For the most part, nothing major is changing about the Orioles uniforms. As far as I know, they will be sticking with black jerseys on Fridays, orange for Saturday home games and white or gray for everything in between. And yes, “Baltimore” will remain on the road jerseys.
But that “25” patch is going to be sewn onto the right sleeve of every single jersey as well, home and road, just like in 2012 when the club celebrated the 20th anniversary. Jerseys with the patch are already on sale in the team store. And Mark Trumbo modeled the white version at his press conference last month.
When paired with the crest-type thing on the left arm, it does make the jersey look a tad cluttered, but we will get used to it. Here’s to hoping it gets more junked up with a “Postseason” patch come October.
Camden Yards managed to get even better looking this offseason. How? SOD! Allow Nicole McFadyen, the O’s head groundskeeper, to explain:
Sounds good to me. According to a nifty little infographic the Birds released back in November, the new turf is Kentucky bluegrass from New Jersey and it covers 105,000 square feet. The old grass was put in back in 2008 and played host to 651 games.
A new playing surface should be a good thing, so this is exciting. But anything is better than the way the field looked when it was all naked back in the fall. Spooky!
It looks like that is going to be the only change OPaCY undergoes ahead of it’s big birthday. But reports from 2015 indicate that major plans are ahead for the stadium, which is a great sign. It’s a structure that deserves to be improved upon over time rather than destroyed and replaced like so many venues are nowadays. The architects got it right with Camden Yards and it continues to age well.
Gear is a big moneymaker for MLB. Every season, the league, along with Majestic, issues brand new, slightly altered hoodies, hats, pullovers and jackets from the prior season, and 2017 is no different. This is the stuff that you will see the guys wear in warmups and on the bench. It’s unlikely to age well but right now, you want it. You don’t know why, you just do. IT’S THE OFFICIAL GEAR!
First up are the Spring Training jerseys. Have they had jerseys specifically for Spring Training before? In any case, the duds you will see the O’s sporting down in Sarasota are very similar to the orange tops they wear for Saturday home games. The only difference appears to be a teal interstate-esque logo on the right sleeve with “FL” on it (teams based in Arizona get “AZ”) and the players name and number on the back is in white with some faint lettering. OK then.
Paired with the aforementioned jerseys are going to be matching hats. Again, they look exactly like something already in the O’s wardrobe with a Florida twist. The hats are all black, like the team’s current batting practice hat, with the same interstate sign found on the jerseys.
But the worst of them all, is this thing. It’s a batting practice jersey, apparently replacing the classic cage jacket. It is just WAY too orange, and I love orange. The back is all black with some orange at the top. Switching the colors would save this. Black on the front and orange on the back would be slick. As is? No thanks.
THEY GAVE THE GIANTS AN ALL BLACK ONE!! What the heck? No way Buck is wearing that monstrosity.
To end on a positive note, MLB has partnered with Stance to make Orioles-themed socks. The players get some sweet-looking black socks with thick orange stripes that would be awesome if any of the players go with high pants (I’m looking at you Adam Jones). Fans can buy some more wild patterns online.