Alexander: These Dodgers City Connect uniforms just don’t connect

The world according to Jim:

• Those who regularly visit This Space are probably familiar with my feelings about alternate jerseys in general, and MLB’s City Connect uniforms in particular. For those who aren’t regulars: I can do without any alternates that aren’t throwbacks. Rather than any serious homage to a city or a team’s heritage, they’re strictly a marketing gimmick – more accurately, a cash grab. Introduce new shirts, sell more merchandise. Nothing more. …

• That said, the Dodgers will introduce their latest stab at the City Connect format Saturday night against the Angels. First reaction: Yuck. Second reaction: Why?

Third reaction: Is funfetti supposed to be the 21st century answer to pinstripes? …

• If you’ve missed them, here are some distinguishing features of these uniforms: The little multi-colored specks, which I guess are supposed to represent shooting stars, look more like what goes into your 8-year-old’s birthday cake. There’s a line running through the all caps “LOS ANGELES” on the front of the shirt, and that’s also supposed to represent a star streaking through the sky. But I interpreted it as a reference to the Newport-Inglewood or San Andreas Fault, supposedly to remind us that we’re still due for the Big One.

Shohei Ohtani Los Angeles Dodgers City Connect Jersey https://t.co/jVw3gqLsEs pic.twitter.com/hgtWow8IWV

— JustFreshKicks (@JustFreshKicks) June 18, 2024

Oh, and in these jerseys Freddie Freeman is No. 05 instead of No. 5. Again, why? …

• At least the previous City Connects, the blue “Los Dodgers” versions, looked like Dodger uniforms. The first year, with blue pants to go with the blue shirts, they did resemble pajamas. But at least you knew who you were watching. …

• My main issue: Your team has iconic uniforms, among the best in all of sports. And you’re setting them aside for this?

Do better, Dodgers. Do as the Yankees do, and just say no to Nike and its fashion shenanigans. …

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• This is yet another reminder that Rob Manfred’s commissioner’s office seems utterly insensitive to the lore and legacy of the game and of its individual teams.

Remember 2019, when a Yankees-Dodgers series was scheduled for Dodger Stadium during Players Weekend? Rather than both teams wearing their historic, iconic uniforms, they were forced into the awful Players Weekend togs. The letters and numbers on the Dodgers’ white-on-white painters’ smocks were indistinguishable beyond the 10th row. The Yankees were in all black, and presumably Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle – not to mention The Boss, George Steinbrenner – were spinning in their graves while these Yanks not only wore names on their jerseys, but juvenile nicknames at that. …

• Footnote to that story: The Dodgers made a request to the commissioner’s office before that weekend that both teams be allowed to wear their regular uniforms for at least one game of that series. Their request was denied. I wrote then, and still believe, that Dodgers’ chairman Mark Walter and Yankees’ managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner should have rebelled, had their players wear their regular uniforms anyway and let Manfred know they’d cover the fines, match them and donate the lot to Stand Up To Cancer. …

• Maybe someone in MLB’s marketing department learned something from the uproar. There will be a Players Weekend this August 16-18, the first one since ’19, and MLB.com reports that they’re not changing the uniforms this time. But there will be special caps. (Shudder.) …

Rest in peace, Willie Mays. And hasn’t this been a brutal few weeks? Three of the greats, Mays, Jerry West and Bill Walton, all gone. …

• The crazy thing, in looking at all of the retrospectives about Mays: For all of his sublime skills, he only won two National League MVP awards, in 1954 and 1965. Then again, consider others who won MVPs in his era: Roy Campanella (three times, including 1953 when Mays was in the Army), Ernie Banks twice, Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson, Maury Wills, Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson and Willie McCovey.

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The point: The National League was way ahead of the American League in integration for years. It was noticeable in the All-Star Game during that era (the NL won 19 out of 25 from 1952 to 1973, including 14 of 16 toward the end of that run), and it was certainly evident in the MVP votes. …

• In the days following Mays’ passing we’ve seen plenty of clips of The Catch (and The Throw), on Vic Wertz’ blast to deep center in the 1954 World Series against Cleveland. Keep in mind that dead center at the Polo Grounds, the cutout where the clubhouse entrances were located, was 483 feet from home plate. The location where Mays caught the ball was just to the right of that cutout, maybe 460-465 feet away.

Willie Mays might’ve just left us but “The Catch” will live on forever pic.twitter.com/cWpyrK6GTN

— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) June 19, 2024

That was the standard for all that would follow. It was often referenced, but never duplicated. …

• And here’s a reminder: Mays finished his career in 1973 with 660 home runs (all in the National League, since he had no homers in his only Negro League season with the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948). If he hadn’t lost almost two full seasons while serving in the Army in 1952 and ‘53, it’s likely he would have caught and passed Babe Ruth before Aaron did so in ‘74.

Best to ever play? If Vin Scully said so, I believe it. Most complete player ever? Without question. …

• When Kings general manager Rob Blake said a few weeks ago the Kings didn’t plan to buy out Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract, we figured he’d lost his mind. But he didn’t say anything about not trading him. Wednesday’s deal with Washington, sending an inefficient and often unengaged Dubois to Washington for goalie Darcy Kuemper, was addition by subtraction. …

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• But, as retired L.A. Times columnist Helene Elliott noted in her new Substack column, Blake’s overall record is still not good. He gave Dubois a big contract and had to unload him. Before that, he gave Cal Petersen a big contract and ultimately unloaded him to Philadelphia when Petersen was unable to take advantage of his chance to win the goalie’s job in L.A. (And, may we add, Blake will be entering his eighth season as GM and Jim Hiller is his fourth coach.)

With the Kings, as it is with the Lakers, just a little front office accountability would be welcome. …

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The Celtics’ NBA championship reminds us that not only have the Lakers again fallen behind in the battle for most titles, but Boston is closer to another dynasty than the Lakers are to seriously contending for their own No. 18. …

• But if you are a Laker fan and need consolation, there’s this: That region had gone five years without a pro sports championship – five l-o-o-o-o-ng years, in a New Englander’s eyes. So let them gloat. You don’t have to listen. …

• And I go back to the day after the Patriots had beaten the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, the last previous title in February of 2019, and the T-shirt worn by a typically obnoxious fan in the Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport terminal the next morning: “Championship. Parade. Repeat. Boston.”

Hope he had to throw that shirt away.

jalexander@scng.com

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