So Nadal basically let the Nike folks make him a pawn in their marketing war against Adidas. At the risk of sounding sentimental, Uni Watch pines for the days when the competition was between the players, not the sportswear companies.
Just when you think you've seen everything when you think you've finally got this cold, unfriendly world figured out and have grudgingly come to terms with your place in it someone comes along and casually mentions something that turns your whole perspective upside-down. In this case, that someone is reader Matt Sanderson, who recently dropped the following bomb on Uni Watch HQ:
"Perhaps this is common knowledge, but the Cubs have a raised, 3-D emblem on their batting helmets complete with embroidery, just like on their caps as opposed to the vinyl sticker most other teams use. I lost a bet with a friend over this issue in the mid-1980s and have been a '3-D batting helmet logo watcher' ever since."
Common knowledge? Au contraire! Over the course of 30-plus years of following baseball, Uni Watch had never noticed this detail. And frankly, it sounded a bit suspect with everything in baseball being so standardized these days, what were the odds the Cubbies would be using a different kind of helmet logo than everyone else? But following up on such tips, no matter how dubious, is Uni Watch's job, so a period of intense Cubs-centric photo research ensued. Most pix, however, such as this one, were inconclusive like, if you stare at it long enough, you can probably convince yourself that the logo is raised, but it also looks a lot like a flat decal. Uni Watch was unconvinced.
That's when Sanderson, perhaps sensing his reputation at stake, directed Uni Watch to this photo. And sure enough, it looks as though there's a patch, not a decal, being knocked off of Andre Dawson's helmet. A bit of additional research turned up this shot, which shows at least a hint of the patch's depth and embroidery. Uni Watch was now intrigued (if somewhat shaken to the core), and wanted to know more.
Batting helmets used to be made by American Baseball Cap Inc. (which is why they used to have the "ABC" logo on the back). But ABC was acquired a few years ago by Rawlings, which now makes all the MLB helmets, so Uni Watch contacted Rawlings marketing manager Dan Cullinane to get the full scoop.
"The Cubs do use a different helmet logo than the other teams," he confirmed, much to Uni Watch's amazement. "It's a white felt adhesive appliqué with an embroidered red 'C' inside the felt. I'm not sure of the history, since we only bought ABC a couple of years ago, but I believe that initially all the team logos were made out of felt. But every other team has switched to a decal."
The next step was to call Wrigley Field, where Uni Watch hoped to get some background info from Yosh Kawano, perhaps the most storied of all MLB equipment managers. Unfortunately, he wasn't in the mood to discuss this weighty matter (maybe just as well, since he's famous for limiting his vocabulary to "yes" and "no" when being interviewed), so instead Uni Watch spoke with the Cubs' other equipment manager, Tom Hellman.