We need to talk about The Hat

Frankenstein 2020: A New Era PR person must have hit “send” early on this press release, right? Right?


The 2020 MLB season has already been a particularly contentious year in baseball fashion.

The Jersey

Before 2020 even arrived, the MLB announced that Nike would replace Majestic as the league’s official uniform supplier.

When the new Nike jerseys were unveiled in December 2019, baseball purists had strong feelings about the presence of the iconic swoosh on the chest of the jerseys.

The jersey drama has mostly quieted down. However, there has been some recent outrage about regarding the price of the Nike jerseys compared with the Majestic jerseys.

The Hat

2020 is here and so is the latest baseball fashion scandal: the 2020 Spring Training hat released by New Era. The hats are varying levels of terrible, but the White Sox hat is in some special circle of Hell.

As I discussed in my last post, it’s not easy to be a White Sox fan, and that’s part of what makes it a noble collective. However, someone at MLB or New Era decided that we need to suffer as this hat is an assault to the eyes.

Unfortunately, we must take a close look at the hat to truly grasp the horror.

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I’ll start out with the positives.

What Went Right

  • Back to basics: They did not mess up the most basic color scheme in existence (black and white).
  • Sox side logo: The side of the hat sports an actual White Sox logo, thus, in profile, fans and other innocent bystanders can tell which team this cap purports to represent.
  • Solid centering: Both the top-cap button and front-cap sticker appear to be 100% accurately centered.
  • Nope: There is no No. 4.

What Went Wrong

  • A whodunit mystery: I theorize an executive at either MLB or New Era has a child with a graphic design hobby and some light Adobe Photoshop knowledge, and that child was put in charge of designing this hat. But please, I am neither Nancy Drew nor Miss Marple, so share your own theories in the comments.
  • Nightmares in Photoshop: The most obviously offensive design flaw in this hat is that the primary and secondary logos are layered. Someone slapped the black Sox logo on top of the “Swingman” logo and called it a day. Have we run out of ideas for hats? Honestly, can we keep a consistent logo and just try different styles of hat instead: stovetop, bowler, newsboy, top hat, a nice cloche … anything.
  • Have we gone too far?: There are a total of three Sox logos on this hat. And the New Era logo and a massive logo for spring training on the back. For those not counting, that’s five logos on one hat. I am afraid to ask what’s next, but I have seen this phenomenon before in my native home of Alabama. Do you remember those Jeff Gordon racing jackets, adorned with logos? I do, because kids I went to elementary school kids wore the shit out of them. That’s the road we are heading down if this hat is allowed to exist. spring training
  • MESH: I get it. I get it: spring training is in warm climates, and the mission to properly wick sweat never abates. But: MESH.

Friends, I know I can be a bit critical, and perhaps most of you reading this don’t necessarily identify as fashionistas. However, I am not alone:

There were several routes the designers of this hat could have taken. However, this route goes full Wile E. Coyote off the cliff. And MLB and/or New Era expects us to drop $35.99 (plus shipping) on it.

Make the smart choice, friends. Don’t support this hat. We deserve better.

Point at the hat. Laugh at the hat.

But don’t buy the hat.

Southpaw: America’s true, gritty, working-class mascot

Hero of the masses: Gritty, meet a true mascot of the people, Southpaw. (@Southpaw)


Allow me to briefly step across the sports aisle to discuss Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty.

Gritty is a seven-foot-tall, amorphous, orange, hirsute being. You may be thinking “Well, that doesn’t really sound too different from other ambiguous sports mascots.”

Generally, I would have agreed with you. Until I looked deeply into Gritty’s eyes.

Gritty’s batshit gaze is the embodiment of something Friedrich Nietzche said:

If you look long enough into the void, the void looks back through you.

It makes a perplexing amount of sense that leftists have co-opted Gritty as a symbol of antifascism and working class rebellion. What initially began as a Philly-area adoption of Gritty as a leftist idol has become a nationwide sentiment.

The Jacobin, a publication that describes itself as “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture,” claimed Gritty for the left with a simple tweet:

Although Gritty has been crowned as King of the Working Class, I would like to propose an alternative leader: Southpaw, the Chicago White Sox mascot.

Regardless of your social, economic, or political stances, it is a fact that Chicago has a vibrant and rich legacy or immigrant and working class neighborhoods. In the early 20th Century, Chicago was the site of many critical labor upheavals. These early strikers were men, women, and children who hailed from Pilsen, Bridgeport, Pullman, and other South Side neighborhoods.

The South Side in particular was home several working class industries (meat packing, steel mills, and basically all the other jobs no one wanted to do) as well as a large amount of black Chicagoans who arrived in the city after Reconstruction and in the Great Migration. Rich black industry grew in the South Side, but it was not without struggle. The Red Summer of 1919 occurred as a result of racial tensions bubbling over after increased job and housing competition. Slap an expressway in the middle of everything to further divide people, and, in an incredibly brief oversimplification, the South Side has long been a cauldron of racial, labor, and class tensions.

In contemporary times, it seems at times to be the South Side against the rest of Chicago and the world. I can only speak from a transplant’s experience, but the image outsiders (especially white folks) have conjured up of the South Side is one of wild-eyed fear and unknowing.

That fear and unknowing extends to White Sox fans. White Sox fans, as you all know, are a mystery to everyone that isn’t a White Sox fan. And to be honest, people should be scared of White Sox fans, as they are the baseball equivalent of self-flagellators.

While there are various White Sox players, commentators, and other symbols we idolize in our suffering, it is time to put away our earthly comforts and embrace the unknown that is Southpaw.

What is Southpaw? Like the mystery of the South Side and Sox fandom, honestly, none of us really know. But we find out what Southpaw isn’t from his MLB profile:

Some people think he’s an alligator, frog or even a dirty sock. Those are all really goofy, but he’s none of those. Southpaw is a fuzzy green dude that loves the Chicago White Sox. Southpaw’s favorite snack is Ants on a Log. No, not real ants (he’s not an anteater, silly), but the snack with celery, peanut butter and raisins. He had a pet rock once, but he rolled away.

Believe it or not, this vague description put to bed some questions we had at SSHP. Brett and I briefly discussed Southpaw’s gender identity and how we would go about finding out about it, but luckily, the MLB helped us figure out the proper pronouns to use for Southpaw.

We are able to glean a few insights about Southpaw’s viewpoints via social media:

Southpaw believes in a regulated work day. 

Southpaw puts his time in working in charity and entertainment, but quittin’ time is quittin’ time.

Southpaw is a creature of the people …

Even fans of the opposing team. If there are any Astros fans looking to jump ship, run into Southpaw’s warm embrace, comrades.

… and the people love Southpaw back.

Southpaw isn’t afraid to strike and stand up to bullies.

A true leader of the people is not afraid to go on strike or face down powerful figures.

Southpaw stands for equality.

And, finally, Southpaw doesn’t punch children.

Gritty recently ran into trouble with the law for assaulting a 13-year-old. From SI.com:

Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty is under investigation for allegedly assaulting a 13-year-old boy during a photo shoot, police said.

Chris Greenwell and his son Brandon met the hairy, googly-eyed mascot at a November event for season ticket holders. Brandon patted Gritty on the head after he and his father posed for a photo with him at the Wells Fargo Center, Greenwell told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Greenwell said that as Brandon walked away, Gritty ran out of his chair and “punched my son as hard as he could.”


With a history of hardcore, working-class credibility, residence on the blue-collar side of a union-heavy city, love of the people and equality, and disdain for the powerful, Southpaw is America’s true working-class mascot.

When you gaze into Southpaw’s eyes, you will not see a void; you will see a comrade looking back at you saying, “Damn the man. Gritty, who?”

La Pantera has arrived

Cat power: We’ll all get to witness how dangerous Luis Robert will be, as early as the end of March. (Kim Contreras/South Side Hit Pen)


What is about panthers? They are, for all intents and purposes, just leopards and jaguars with a melanism. Still we find them magnetizing and assign some mystical properties to them.

It’s hard to not get caught up in the mysticism surrounding surround Luis Robert. Perhaps we feel the need to halt ourselves when considering his rocket to the top combined with his injuries and age. Could this money be spent elsewhere?

Luis Robert has already lived more life than many of us here, and is mystical in that regard alone:

  • Age 14: Starred for Cuba’s 16-and-under team
  • Age 15: Began his professional baseball career in Cuba (batting average: .325)
  • Age 16: Hit four home runs in the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship (batting average: .383)
  • Age 19: Defected from Cuba and was declared a free agent five months later (batting average: .393)
  • Age 20: Signed with the Chicago White Sox
  • Age 21: Worked his way up through– i.e. dominated– the Winston-Salem Dash and Birmingham Barons.
  • Age 22: Joined the Charlotte Knights; became a member of the 30/30 club; hit 30 home runs and stole 36 bases throughout the season.

As I write them, I sit on my couch in my underwear, tortilla chips strewn down my shirt, and read about the news of Robert’s six-year, $50 million deal with the White Sox, before I turn to the mirror and say “Damn, what are any of us doing, really?”

We have watched a transformation from Luis Robert to LuBob. However, La Pantera, at age 22, has ARRIVED.

By finally calling up La Pantera and other big money moves, the White Sox have embraced a transformation and sense of urgency — some might feel it is with wreckless abandon while others are riding this roller coaster. The management seems to feel a bit of both: In a story from USA Today regarding the current Winter Meetings, Rick Hahn mentioned “there’s more than one conversation every week when [Jerry Reinsdorf] reminds us how old he is and wondering how much longer he has to wait to get to the promised land. He’s ready to get to the winning stage.” Us too, Jerry.

It’s hard not to consider what is going on in Jerry’s head. Hahn confirmed that Jerry is feeling restless, but at what cost?

Duke_Snider_1953.jpg

Perhaps Jerry, who grew up a Brooklyn Dodger fan, sees a young Duke Snider when imagining Robert roaming center field. Now is the time to recapture childhood dreams.

 

theshining_lloyd.jpg

Perhaps Jerry had a long conversation with a bartender named Lloyd at the Overlook Hotel and is selling his soul for a drippy sip from the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Or maybe, just maybe, he is just padding the team for an inevitable sell.

What’s your guess?

Regardless, Reinsdorf has a plan, and sees something in Luis Robert that will tie up the loose ends of any one of these possibilities.

And what is it about panthers? Famed researcher W.H. Hudson found that indigenous peoples believed panthers were an entirely separate species that has mystical properties.

The White Sox management and fans seem to take confidence in numbers, but there is still a fine layer of mysticism surrounding La Pantera. Let’s see the magic come alive on Opening Day, at bat and in center field.