Thursday, March 24, 2016

New Uniforms Coming for Auburn Baseball?

Back in late January, I was alerted by a Twitter follower to a new Auburn baseball jersey design being sold at the local Alumni Hall store. I initially had mixed reactions to the jersey, for the design was something that was completely out of the norm for Auburn baseball. Even wearing some pretty odd jerseys in the early years of the Under Armour contract, I thought these would be too far fetched for with the current uniform arsenal.

Kamp Fender photo / Eagle Eye News

On the other hand, Under Armour has fallen in love with the Northwestern stripes donned by the football program and used the design in seemingly as many places as they possibly can. We've seen it on hats, jackets, t-shirts, and even basketball uniforms. With that in mind, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to see it on the baseball diamond.

When the season started, we saw Auburn wear the same white uniforms for most of the games, including seven straight games to start the year (excluding the postponed game versus Kennesaw State). I was glad to see the old white tops being worn, rather than the proposed new stripe design. The longer the team wore the old tops, the more I thought we wouldn't see the striped design.

My optimism in believing the striped uniforms weren't ever meant to see the diamond began to wane after seeing other Under Armour teams sporting the same template. An Under Armour employee posted a photo of Baylor selling a green version of the shoulder stripe template in early March. A few days later, the team wore a white version on the diamond. The green jersey was soon worn with matching pants. South Carolina soon announced they were also wearing the template. Even South Florida has worn the new template.

Auburn has worn the all white uniforms for a majority of the games thus far. (Kenny Smith / Auburn Athletics

Even with other schools wearing the template, I thought Auburn would hold out on sporting the new uniforms. New head coach Butch Thompson was described to me as a "simple man" by someone that works with the Auburn baseball program. That was evident in the few different uniform combinations that Auburn wore during the early part of the season. The previous coaching staff at Auburn was extremely superstitious, and rarely ever deviated from wearing the same uniform during a hot streak. It's pretty evident that Thompson isn't nearly as superstitious, as the team is currently 5-6 in the white uniforms, including a three game losing streak at one point.

The source previously mentioned told me that Auburn will be wearing these new uniforms at least twice this year. Neither of us are sure as to the capacity of the number, whether only two games total, or two games for each jersey. He claimed that the newly signed Under Armour contract was forcing the team to wear the new jerseys, but I can't seem to find anything regarding Under Armour requiring teams to wear their new products - as opposed to the current uniforms - in the contract.

Auburn has worn 6 uniform combinations this season, below last year's total of
12 combinations. (Anthony Hall / Auburn Athletics)

I have a hard time believing Auburn will debut these new jerseys during conference play. If I had to guess, I would say that Auburn would get their "required" allotment of games wearing these new tops in during the non-conference mid-week games. With the SEC Network and every conference game being available to view in one way or another, I have to believe Auburn won't muddy up the brand and stick with their current white tops.

Through all this, the design of the jerseys themselves hasn't been discussed. I personally think they look hideous. I think using the Northwestern stripes isn't an awful idea, but, according to the retail versions, Under Armour got the stripes completely wrong. At first glance, the white tops seem to have the correct striping. But a closer look reveals that there is a blue stripe on the edges of the middle orange stripe, ruining the correct Northwestern striping pattern.

Auburn's orange tops are a fan favorite, right behind the classic throwback design that has yet to be worn in 2016

The blue top is the worst of the two. I'm not even sure where Under Armour got this striping pattern. It's a total mess. The striping ratio and number of stripes don't match the traditional Northwestern design, let alone any other common stripes design. If these stripes matched the stripes that don the football program's traditional blue jerseys, I might have a better opinion about these.

Although it's difficult to tell from the photos, the shoulder stripes taper to a point on the sleeve cuff. This is prevalent on the other teams that have worn this template, specifically that of South Carolina. The other thing noticeable is that the stripes don't fall straight down from shoulder to cuff - instead they fall at an angle, from the front of the shoulder towards the back of the cuff. So not only is the design and template a bit gaudy, Under Armour's poo application of the stripes (not to mention forcing a templated design on their teams, same as adidas has in previous season) really start to make these new uniforms pretty unbearable.

From the beginning, I've hoped that we would never see Auburn sporting these new jerseys. I still hold to that wish, as Auburn's design is the weakest of all the shoulder striped jerseys provided thus far by Under Armour. If we do indeed see these jerseys on the diamond, I hope that Auburn wears them for the bare minimum of two games and then locks them away for good.

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