June 14, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Eric Stults (53) throws during the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
I am very active on Twitter. Due to this past weekend series with the Cubs, and all the bedlam that the 80’s brown retro uniforms brought, I saw much discussion about bringing back the brown. There is a Twitter account dedicated to this cause and a website bringbackthebrown.com. This has been happening for a while, but this weekend it came to a head.
Granted, in the 4 games of the series with the Cubs, the attendance was great. All the weekend games were near sellouts. As of today, the Petco Park attendance average is 26,577. The 4-game series with the Cubs brought in 122,026 fans. That is an average of 30,507. It was a fun weekend for sure. But people want to bring this back permanently? The Padres can’t expect to bring in numbers like that every night just because they resemble the colors of mustard and chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I love the retro nights. I think once or twice a year it is a fun way to draw crowds. But to have it as our permanent uniforms? Let’s reconsider this.
My first point: changing the uniforms does not automatically make the Padres a contender for the National League pennant. Look at the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Braves among others. All those franchises have a rich history of winning and not a history of changing uniforms. People look at college football and all these fancy, flashy uniforms and think that leads to a winning program. It does not. In fact, in the history of the Padres, changing uniforms has not gone well. When the Padres changed from the ’84 brown and yellow to the pinstripe and brown for the 1985 season, they finished 12 games back in the division, a year after going to the World Series. The Padres changed again in 1991 to the navy and orange pinstripes with gray road uniforms, they finished 10 games back. 2 years later they were 61-101. For the 2001 season, the Padres changed yet again to the plain white and blue home uniforms with the same gray road tops. That season they were 79-83 and 13 games back. In 2004, when the Padres opened Petco Park, they changed yet again to the cursive “Padres” white home top with the sand colored road tops. Since changing to the white-blue cursive “Padres” home tops with the gray tops in 2011, the Padres are a combined 247-292 (.458). My point being, it does not matter. In fact, demanding change in the past has not exactly resulted in playoff berths.
My second and final point is: if I pretend it does matter for a second, I would much rather change to the late 90’s uniforms than the brown and yellow. My personal favorite (besides the current digital camo jerseys) is the 1997-2003 navy blue alternate uniforms with orange lettering. The home uniforms would be the pinstripe white with blue and orange lettering, with the road grays. Those just take me back to the days of Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti and Trevor Hoffman. Also, if I pretend for a second that the uniforms determine a team’s record, in that span when the Padres wore those uniforms from 1991-2000, they were 759-798 (.487), which is actually better than the years we wore the classic brown and yellow (436-483, .474). So the late 90’s uniforms is my pick if we must make a change.
I am not bashing fans for wanting a uniform change. I enjoy opinions, it shows passion. And I do love good-looking uniforms, especially since I am an avid jersey-buyer. But I find it hard to believe, especially after researching all of this, that there is a direct correlation between new uniforms and winning. The Padres need hitters, not brown uniforms. They need a stable front office with a vision, not 70’s obnoxious colors. So before we all start going crazy on Twitter with #BringBacktheBrown, let’s take a long look at what really matters. The baseball players, coaches and executives donning that “SD” logo.