Last week, Willson Contreras stopped wearing his Venezuela arm sleeve. Did you notice?
I’ll admit, I didn’t really notice. Or, to the extent I did, I didn’t really think about it as a “thing,” because maybe he was just wearing different sleeves for any number of reasons. It just didn’t stand out to me.
The point there being that it’s not like Contreras’s arm sleeve, a tribute to his home country, is an especially jarring piece of outerwear. But apparently it was enough for MLB to reach out to inform Contreras he could no longer wear it, per NBC Sports Chicago and the Sun-Times.
The timing corresponds with MLB also reaching out to Ben Zobrist to tell him he could not wear his throwback all-black cleats, which, like with Contreras’s sleeve, he’s been wearing for a long time with no issue. Clearly, MLB has decided now is the time to take a stand on unapproved outerwear, and given the hostility between the league and players over the past year, it’s not at all a stretch to presume there are larger issues at play here.
It’ll just be one more thing for the sides to fight about in the coming years, and just one more thing that a sport already fighting for attention does not need. I understand what the word “uniform” means, but can we be a little more flexible, MLB? The players want to show some individuality in way that doesn’t bother anyone … why would you take a stand against that?
I love baseball. On the whole, I like Major League Baseball. And I get that *some* outerwear could go too far. But this is a precarious time, and the league should be very careful about the things that it chooses to focus on. All sides are trying to win the same war – more attention and longevity for the sport – but that cause is going to be hindered if every little thing becomes a battle.
This story is not going away any time soon, especially now that we know there were much more wide-ranging threats of fines from MLB beyond Ben Zobrist’s cleats. At a time when tensions are high for any number of reasons, there will be more players expressing their displeasure about these kinds of things, and gladly risking fines to make a point.
Last year’s Venezuela sleeve, including the bobblehead last Friday. The new sleeve Willy wore this year and sans sleeve during the Friday game. MLB is worrying about the wrong things at the wrong time. Let the players be who they are to draw an audience! @WContreras40 @Cubs pic.twitter.com/60cqk9gXkS
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) May 15, 2018