Major League Baseball has been making an effort to modernize its entire industry lately, from the new rules on the field to a renewed emphasis on inviting emotion and individuality from its players. And like it or not, no one does that better than the NBA.
For example, each year, the NBA invites Nike to work with its teams to develop unique “City Edition” jerseys that are worn sporadically throughout the season to add a little random flavor and fun. The jerseys are often a completely different look than the usual color scheme and style of your favorite team, but that’s literally the point. They’re not meant to last beyond a season, and they’re meant to be very different.
Here’s a look at the Bulls City Edition jerseys for 2021, for context:
Well, I am so freakin’ excited to relay this news to you: This exact sort of City Edition Nike jerseys are coming to Major League Baseball in 2021.
And the Boston Red Sox are going to be first:
MLB and Nike introduce the City Connect alternate uniform series, meant to push the boundaries for design for in-game baseball jerseys
— joon (@joonlee) April 6, 2021
Yeah, those are SICK. The Red Sox will wear these yellow-and-blue uniforms for the first time on April 17 and 18 against the White Sox.
In MLB, these alternates will be called the “City Connect” series, and the Red Sox are just the first of seven teams to get the Nike treatment this year. The Red Sox (today), Marlins (May 21), White Sox (June 5), Cubs (June 12), Diamondbacks (June 18), Giants (July 9) and the Dodgers (late August) have their reveal dates already scheduled. And every team will get a jersey by the end of the 2023 season.
“Developed in partnership with MLB Clubs, the Nike MLB City Connect series celebrates the bond between each team and its city,” reads the jointly-released statement which accompanied the announcement. “The uniform series explores the personality, values and customs that make each community and their residents unique. Building on the rich heritage of each Club, the City Connect series pushes the boundaries of baseball uniform design to create new traditions and help grow the game of baseball.”
Remember, Nike is in its 2nd season of a 10-year deal to be MLB’s uniform supplier, and so the success of this campaign could help inform some long-term decisions. That said, speaking from experience, these City Edition jerseys aren’t just welcomed in the NBA, they’re a highly anticipated change-of-pace for most fans (like me!). I think the freedom of *knowing* that these alternates are never meant to be more than a fleeting spark of individuality invites a bigger tent of supporters. Sure, some people still think they’re dumb (the Red Sox have no “red” in their jerseys, for example), but even the harshest critics can recognize that they’re not long for the shelves or the field.
I cannot WAIT to see what the Cubs reveal (the Red Sox were given ten different options from which to choose), and I’m hoping so badly they’re absolutely awesome, because I will be the first in line to buy one … which, remember, is exactly the point.
You can look at this cynically and say it’s just another way for MLB to sell jerseys, or you can concede that selling more jerseys is a *good thing* for the sport and the players, who not only get a direct cut of those sales, but also benefit from larger contracts when the sport is at its most popular. And, once more, the loudness and expressiveness of these jerseys is exactly the sort of energy MLB is looking to siphon out of the NBA and NFL. I am so here for this.
Some past Bulls City Editions, by the way, in case they inspire your imagination for the Cubs:
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) July 31, 2019
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) July 30, 2019