On Sunday, our neighbors on the South Side revealed that the team would be wearing home throwback uniforms from the 1983 season for Sunday home games. This is the second season in a row that the White Sox have implemented a home alternate uniform from yesteryear, with the ball club going with a red pinstripe home outfit from 1972 last year. Some Cubs fans and Crib readers will loathe the mention of the team from across town on this blog, much less following the city rival’s footsteps in this regard. But it should be noted that many teams in MLB have gone with retro looks as part of their uniform sets.
Then there is the traditionalist crowd amongst the fan base that probably would hate to see any deviation from the regular home white and road gray set. Many dislike the alternate blue top the team has worn over the last several seasons, which interestingly was a favorite of former Cub starter Carlos Zambrano, whom always went with the alternate solid back when the starting pitchers were given the privilege of determining the uniform top on the days they started. The team actually discontinued the use of the alternate in 2007, only for it to make a comeback in 2008 and remains to this day.
As a jersey collector myself, I may be a bit biased, the time is now for the Cubs to add a throwback alternate or at the least replace the alternate blue with a retro style. Despite the public comments by the front office and manager Dale Sveum about pushing to contend in 2013, the reality is that finishing with a loss total less than 100 this year would be considered a success. Yes, I know that is not what any of us want to hear, but like it or not all Cub fans signed up for a serious rebuild when Theo Epstein was brought on board.
So other than watching the young talent the Cubs are putting together continue to blossom in front of our eyes at Wrigley, the team could help mix things up with an extra or new uniform set. For a moment or two, it would take up some attention in what figures to be another long season. But like anything business related, the main reason for it would be additional revenue source in the form of merchandise sales. While the profits of an extra alternate uniform would pale when compared to the additional advertising the North Siders are attempting to implement within historic Wrigley Field, it is money to be made none the less when you have a following that rivals that of the Yankees and Red Sox while playing in a big market city like a New York and Los Angeles.
The Cubs have worn one off throwback uniforms in recent years. This past season they rocked the road uniforms from 1912 at San Francisco in June and twice in 2011; a 1918 away pinstripe gray at Boston and the 1947 away uniform against the Dodgers in LA. That season, the Dodgers actually had a fan vote as to what throwbacks should be worn. The Cubs could do a similar fan interactive get up. The Cubs could go back 100 years and go with this all navy look from 1913 to replace the current alternate. Or how about going back just 50 years with a non wool gray alternate road from 1963 made famous in the ‘60s by the quartet of Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, and Ron Santo. And I am sure I am one of many who love the royal pullover road jersey from the 1980’s, with fond memories of the teams led by Ryne Sandberg.
A bit of a gimmick you say? Sure. But so are turnstile giveaways such as bobbleheads, the reputation of the modern day Bleacher Bums, the singing of the 7th inning stretch by someone other than the late Harry Caray (yeah I said it!), and the group karaoke rendition of “Go Cubs Go” after a W at Wrigley. Don’t get me wrong, I too enjoyed and still enjoy all of these things, but we can all agree that the one thing we will all enjoy the most is a World Series title finally on the North Side. If all of the above is just another dollar and means to get closer to realizing that life long goal, then so be it.
Go Cubs Go and give me a throwback uniform for 2013!