Over the last few seasons, teams have been getting new jerseys made for them under a “City Connect” banner that’s meant to design something unique representing each city. Some of them have been bad. Others have been better. None have been boring, until now. The Orioles unveiled their jerseys on Monday morning ahead of an on-field debut, and they are not interesting.
The team has tried its very best to dress up this boring design with abstract explanations for some of the choices. You can see for yourself and tell me if you’re more convinced than I am:
This is what it means to wear Baltimore on your chest. pic.twitter.com/42jXwRT9PV— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 22, 2023
The overall comment in the first image seems to be the driving influence:
From the outside, it looks all black and white. You can’t see what you’re not looking for. Threaded from the artistic tapestry of our city, the pattern is like our people: Colorful, vibrant, and quirky.
The idea of Baltimore as a delightfully weird place is something that’s always struck me as flowing from the fact that John Waters is from here. Waters memorably said about his home city that, “It’s as if every eccentric in the south decided to move north, ran out of gas in Baltimore, and decided to stay.”
Perhaps the people who were waiting in line for the special unveiling that the team was promoting at the team store when it opened at 10 o’clock this morning will be a lot more excited. Maybe they need to be excited to justify the fact that they waited in line to get into the team store at 10 in the morning on a Monday.
Trying to encompass “Baltimore is full of weird and cool things if you look for them” in the jersey was not, in and of itself, a bad idea. Taking this so literally to put the most boring exterior imaginable with only a small flourish if the sleeves are rolled up and the top button or two of the jerseys are unbuttoned is not, to me, a good idea.
The image above gamely attempts to frame this as “we are the first MLB team to design the inside of our jersey,” which is nice for them, I guess. The colors representing the panoply of neighborhoods is a neat idea as well, except, again, this is intentionally buried! Oh well.
Even the hat, which at least is something out of the ordinary with its script B that seems to be the small logo the team wants to embrace, based on their now using that for their Twitter picture, is intentionally not new. If the B looks familiar, that’s because they explain that the script B is pulled from the road jerseys.
Or just forget about what any of this even looks like and consider the practical matter of having a team that plays a number of its games outdoors in the daytime in the summer months wear black jerseys, pants, and caps. Good thing the whole team brand this year is about staying hydrated. They’re gonna need it.
A couple of weeks ago, there was a leak of a jersey laying flat on a table that has now been confirmed. While there’s more interesting stuff going on than this leak initially suggested, it’s not that much more interesting. The most prominently feature on the jersey is the city name on the front, white block text on black.
Again, whoever came up with the promotional tweet tries their best to sell this: “We’re not hiding behind a catchy nickname, and we don’t shy away. We are Baltimore.” That’s what I’d tell my boss too if I had to explain why however many man-hours of the design process generated this. If the boss was smart, they would send me back to the drawing board. Whatever bosses signed off here do not seem to have made that choice.
On Saturday, the Orioles sent out another tweet trying to get people excited for this jersey unveiling, showing the players reactions to the jerseys without showing the jerseys:
The guys are gonna look good in these. pic.twitter.com/deXFEvR87p— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 20, 2023
I am not the first person to make the observation that the reaction here is like if you got a Christmas present that sucks, but you know the person who got it for you meant well and you have to try to act like you like it. You asked for a Star Wars Lego set and a well-meaning aunt went to Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and got you an off-brand space thing. You wanted the cool brand shoes and your mom went to Payless. That’s the reaction.
It could be that they will grow on us, especially if the Orioles play some kind of memorably good game for their on-field debut. Or maybe they’re as boring as they look and they’ll never be anything else. I hope that the people who buy them are happy. The Orioles have done very little to make us happy in the 21st century and we all must enjoy whatever shines to us amidst the darkness. For me, these jerseys just aren’t that.