Nike’s New MLB Uniforms Plagued by Shortage of Pants

Par Stephen J. Nesbitt, Patrick Mooney et C. Trent Rosecrans

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — When players entered the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse Thursday morning, they found white and gray baseball pants on their locker chairs. More pants were stacked on a table in the middle of the room, and a message on a monitor above asked players to try them on. It brought him the familiar feeling of putting on old pants.

Because that’s exactly what they are.

Among the many issues surrounding the rollout of Nike’s new MLB uniform this spring is the shortage of pants. Some teams reuse pants from previous seasons – made by Nike or by Majestic, Major League Baseball’s former uniform supplier – because they don’t have enough new Nike pants for all the players and staff in uniform. The Reds asked players to plan to wear their old pants for the remainder of spring training.

“The universal concern,” said MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark, “is the pants.”

Nike did not respond directly to questions but provided Athleticism his first statement since player complaints surfaced last week.

“We always put the athlete at the center of everything we do,” Nike’s statement said. “We worked closely with MLB players, teams and the league to create the most advanced uniforms in MLB history that are lighter and more flexible.

“The quality and performance of our product is of the utmost importance to us. We will continue to work with MLB, players and our manufacturing partner to improve player uniforms.

Through a spokesperson, Major League Baseball also released a statement. “Like every spring training, Fanatics team services, Nike and MLB representatives visit the camps to meet all the players, hold uniform fitting sessions with them and get their feedback on the how their uniforms fit,” the MLB statement said. “Depending on player requests, adjustments are made to the jersey size, waistline, inside seams, length, thigh cut and bottom of their pants.

“The goal of these meetings is to provide players with the most comfortable uniforms available for Opening Day. We are in close contact with our clubs and uniform partners to ensure clubs have what they need for opening day.

As Clark and players’ union officials tour spring training, they continue to hear numerous complaints. After meeting with Chicago Cubs players Thursday morning in Mesa, Ariz., Clark admitted, “It’s disappointing that we landed in a place where uniforms are a talking point.” Even the negative feedback about the uniforms doesn’t focus on a single issue.

“Every conversation with the guys gives more information,” Clark said. “A lot of the rhetoric (Wednesday) was confirming that it appears the pants are see-through.”

But a broader issue — beyond the transparency, design changes, inconsistent quality and fit issues that players have complained about — is the lack of pants available to teams.

“There are teams that have pants and jerseys,” Clark said. “Some teams don’t have pants. There are other teams that are supposed to receive certain things before the start of the year. There are others who, if they have a problem with the pants and a player needs a new pair, have nothing in reserve.

Nike began a 10-year contract as the official uniform supplier of MLB ahead of the 2020 season. Fanatics has produced Nike jerseys since 2020 at the same Easton, Pennsylvania factory where Majestic’s uniforms were made . A spokesperson for Fanatics, which makes the uniforms but is not involved in design or engineering, declined to comment.

During his speech at the Grapefruit League last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred defended Nike and its new uniform, praising the company’s track record and waving his hands over players’ concerns.

“I think after people wear them a little bit, they’ll get really popular,” he said.

Yet as spring training games begin, players and coaches are still donning old pants — some by choice, others by necessity.

One National League star has so far refused to wear the new pants. An American League star had a Goldilocks experience during his fitting: too tight in one place, too loose in another place, just right in the third place. A coach tried on the new Nike uniform on the first day of practice, then came home and found an old pair that he’s worn ever since. One player who wears stirrups lamented the fact that he could choose between a high cut or a low cut, but nothing in between. On Wednesday, one club received just one set of new Nike pants – the set, coincidentally, that they were supposed to wear for the official picture day.

In years past, players would be outfitted at the start of spring training and could request all sorts of customizations, and they would receive the final custom product a few weeks before Opening Day. Now, according to several recently equipped players, requests for an inch of tissue on the thigh or bicep are being rejected. Instead, players are sorted into four body types, based on a body analysis of more than 300 Nike and Fanatics players conducted last spring, and offered three options – a slimmer, more regular fit and looser – with five different trouser openings. Nike will adjust sleeve and pant length, but will not tailor specific areas.

While starting the Cactus League opener on Thursday, Padres starter Joe Musgrove wore last year’s pants. When asked when he would receive the new ones, Musgrove said, “Hopefully by opening day.” » Musgrove remembers trying on the new Nike jersey, called the Nike Vapor Premier, for the first time last spring. He said the samples provided were not the correct length for each player, so it was difficult to gauge fit at that time.

“Pants are pants,” Musgrove said. “We’ll wear them.” If they don’t match, you’ll take care of it. It’s not the most important thing. …Honestly, our job is to go play baseball. So you can do whatever you want to not like the pants, but you have to face it.

Some players fear that if Nike can’t provide enough pants to meet clubs’ current needs, they won’t be able to wear them in the weeks leading up to the regular season.

“The guys are going to be pissed,” the player said. “You don’t want to worry about those bulls on opening day.”

“It’s like…the show,” another player repeated.

Reds catcher Luke Maile doesn’t mind the new uniform. I’m doing well. It feels good. He is frustrated that the uniform problem persists and that the people responsible for cleaning up the mess are the clubhouse attendants. They must re-equip players and search storage rooms to find enough old pants to equip the roster.

“I think the biggest misconception right now is that it’s not just players who are complaining and being prima donna about the pants they wear,” Maile said. “We work every day with our clubhouse attendants. They handle almost everything in our lives, and the amount of work they had to do to see this kind of failure is pretty disappointing – not just on our end, but on them as well.

Nike claimed in a statement last week the new jersey was developed over several years. The jerseys were presented to teams during 2022 spring training, according to, and the players’ union also reviewed the uniforms. Clark confirmed that conversations about the new uniforms went back “a few years,” but he doesn’t think the union’s suggestions were considered.

“We offered our opinion – suggested what the challenges would be – and it needed to be addressed from the start. It wasn’t,” Clark said. “There was an announcement from Nike and the league (last week), and then all of a sudden you start hearing from the guys what they’re seeing on the field. (There were) very few answers provided.

“That’s why I say it’s an ongoing conversation where every day has given birth to something new that doesn’t seem to make as much sense as you would like.”

It’s unclear if Nike plans to make any changes to the uniforms before Opening Day. Clark said some of the design changes are understandable; the thinner, lighter performance fabric of the Nike Vapor Premier, for example, requires the introduction of smaller numbers and letters on the jersey.

“Still, in the feedback we’ve received, some guys are disappointed with the highs,” Clark said. “Other guys will take care of it.”

Pants are more of a concern to most players, Clark said. “But I’m not sure what the solution will be or how quickly we can get there.”

The Reds had a stock of old pants on hand in case there was a problem with the uniform. They also wear red tops during spring training, so, in their case, wearing old pants won’t conflict with the new tops (which are slightly off-white). No one knows exactly what will happen between now and Opening Day, but the Reds at least have a workaround for a month.

Maile made it clear he wasn’t expecting perfection, just pants.

“Are we going to make this work?” Of course,” he said. “Was the old way better? Probably. But again, man, our job is to be able to compete. This is what we must do. We will do it no matter what.

AthleticismDennis Lin of , contributed to this report.

(Reds pitchers and catchers in spring training: Kareem Elgazzar / The Enquirer / USA Today)

2024-02-23 07:21:29
#shortage #pants #News


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