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.
Seven teams’ uniforms have been unveiled in 2021, which is all we’re getting this season: The Red Sox, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Giants and Dodgers all got new alternate looks.
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. So far, that’s been a win for teams and their new uniforms over the course of the season.
The uniforms released have been refreshing in some ways, familiar in others. The Red Sox went 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 seven uniforms released, here’s how they rank:
Nike City Connect uniforms
There’s something very … off about the Giants uniforms.
While they get points for trying something very new and drastically different, they’re also a very large departure from the San Francisco Giants. The orange on the uniforms seems more like a Gatorade orange, which is actually supposed to mirror the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The gradient font, which is supposed to be reminiscent of Bay Area fog, is a neat addition, but it would have been better if it didn’t fade into white on the jerseys themselves.
There’s also the “G” on the chest, which is in a weird font that’s indicative of … something.
Best uniform feature: Props for the gradient font to signify Bay Area fog.
Worst uniform feature: The Golden Gate Bridge on the hat is just overkill.
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.
Like the Cubs, the Dodgers’ uniforms feel like a half-measure. They are just incredibly plain.
Top to bottom, the Dodgers will be wearing all blue, marking the first time the team is wearing all blue in club history. They’re also celebrating the team’s Latino community with “Los Dodgers” across the front, which … we’re not really sure how adding “Los” to something makes it celebratory, but we’ll go with it.
Also featured on the jersey is the spray-paint inspired sleeves, which are a nod to LA’s spray-paint murals throughout the city, along with a “Los Dodgers” script hat font.
In all, they’re just kind of OK. They’re not as risky as they can be, but they’re not bad to look at, either.
Best uniform feature: All blue is a sleek, colorful look. We’ll see how it plays in games.
Worst uniform feature: The hats are way, way too busy, but they needed something else to help differentiate these with their normal cap.
4. 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) aren’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 bit of a miss.
The D-backs rank third here, but they might as well be tied for first.
While some of the other uniforms on here are heavily over-designed, the Diamondbacks opted for simplicity with these uniforms, and they’re very, very nice.
The color of the uniform is meant to mirror that of the sands of the Sonoran desert, while the script “Serpientes” across the front honors the Hispanic culture of Arizona.
There’s also a very nice “V” patch, meant to symbolize Phoenix’s nickname, the “Valley of the Sun.”
These are simple, but sometimes simplicity is sexy, which these are.
Best uniform feature: The script “Serpientes” across the front is a nice nod to the city. Embracing the Hispanic culture in an area — and sport — that features it so heavily is good.
Worst uniform feature: The pants, which are their usual white, seem a bit plain when paired with the top.
2. White Sox
Really, the White Sox City uniforms could be tied for No. 1 here along with the D-backs, 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.
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.