Talking 00 with Uni Watch

ICYMI, I did a guest spot with Uniwatch which was published Monday.  I meant to publish this yesterday but never actually scheduled the post.  Below is a lengthy excerpt.

Uni Watch: Okay, so you were opposed to Taijuan Walker wearing No. 00. Why?

Mets Police: When I look at a baseball game, I feel it should look a certain way. The pitcher should have a number between 11 and 59 (excepting 42). The position players should be between 1 and 51. Why? I dunno — that’s what baseball looks like. For the same reason your goaltender should have a number in the 30s and your QB looks best with a two-digit number between 10 and 19.

Mathematically, some feel that 0 is not a number. I will let the mathematicians debate that — to me, 0 is clearly a number. But aren’t 0 and 00 the same thing? If Stroman is 0 (I am also against 0 as a baseball number), how could someone else be 00? Why not issue 05 or 041? [Cue the Benito Santiago references. — PL]

In my mind’s eye is a perfect baseball game. It’s a sunny day game and the Mets are wearing their home pinstripes, NNOB, and blue caps. When you start to deviate — a swoosh jersey, a black drop shadow, 0 and 00 — that all starts to move away from the connections I have with the team. You add enough things and suddenly you start to wonder how else you could spend your three hours on a nice day. Be the New York Mets. Don’t be an arena league football team.

UW: So, just to clarify, you didn’t just object to the possibility of Stroman and Walker doubling up on zero and double-zero — you also would have objected to Walker wearing 00 even if Stroman wore a “normal” number, and you also objected to Stroman wearing 0 even before the Mets acquired Walker (and presumably also objected to Stroman wearing No. 7 in 2019, because it’s a single-digit number). Is that all accurate?

MP: Yes, although I’m okay with a pitcher wearing a single digit. I just think it looks weird. So no issue on the 7, but I am not in favor of 0 being worn on baseball jerseys.

UW: Is 0 any better or more acceptable if the player’s name begins with the letter O, as was briefly the case with Rey Ordoñez, and also with Omar Quintanilla?

MP: No! I hated when Ordoñez did it. It looked so much better when he wore 10!

(Below Paul is referencing this weekend’s posts about my ideas for The Premier League of Baseball)

UW: One thing I’m finding interesting here is that you’re taking a very traditionalist stance about the uniforms (which is fine, of course), but you just published a proposal with all sorts of radically non-traditional ideas about remaking the sport! In fact, I cracked up when I was reading that post and got to the paragraph that says, “My league will play seven-inning games and have a DH. There will be fully normal extra innings as God intended.” I mean, a lot of people might say that God also intended nine innings and no DH, right?

I’m not trying to play “gotcha.” Rather, I’m saying that we all tend to be rather conveniently selective about the areas where we’re old-school (like, say, which uni numbers look “right” and which ones don’t) vs. the areas where we’re willing to push the envelope. Any thoughts on that?

MP: Fair point. I think baseball does need to evolve to survive. I don’t think there are many people not directly or indirectly employed by baseball who think the game — the actual game, the pure fun of watching the game, not some billionaire’s financials — is in good shape. The record book was destroyed in 1998 [by steroids], so let’s let it go. I’ve written before about baseball’s ages or eras, which come in roughly 25-year installments. We’re starting a new age now, so let’s make some changes to the game — seven-inning games, universal DH, and so on.

Stepping off that soapbox, I think you and I agree that teams can and should look sharp while playing the game. For me, that includes a nice, proper number and NNOB (you can’t read a uniform name from the upper deck, and on TV you don’t need it).

UW: Turk Wendell wore No. 99 for the Mets (and also for two other teams), and Mitch Williams also wore 99 for three teams. So is 99 more of a reliever’s number, and is it therefore not much better than 00 for Walker?

MP: 99 is a much better choice than 00. It’s true that we have come to associate it with relievers since Major League, but I can bend on that one.

Let me add: As dug in as I am on uniforms, I have long been an advocate of what I call “Anything Goes Sunday.” I think there is a kernel of an idea in what MLB has done with Players Choice Weekend or whatever it’s called. It the Mets want to wear Hawaiian shirts and shorts once a week with nicknames and crazy numbers, okay — I like fun. But come World Series time, slap on those pinstripes and have a proper number!

UW: Last question: When Walker announced that he would wear 99, you called off the Cold War. What if he had gone with 00? How might the Cold War have developed??

MP: I like a good Cold War. I planned on finding as many purple Mets things as I could, and would have passively-aggressively posted them. I would also have advocated for a purple Mets alt (which, ya know, with a 00 on the back might look cool on Anything Goes Sunday). Then we could hit a game together and both be annoyed!