Fanatics Failure: Player and fan reactions to MLB's new uniforms

Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins
Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

If baseball fans are good at anything, it’s complaining. It’s like second nature; has their GM done something the fanbase doesn’t like? Complaining. Did their teams lose a couple of games in April or, God forbid, spring training? Pure catastrophization. However, one matter that seems to have united fans more than dunking on Commissioner Manfred, for example, are the new Fanatics uniforms. 

This deal is not new; Fanatics/Nike/MLB have collaborated since 2020 after MLB signed a licensing agreement. This season marks the release of the Nike Premier Vapor line. Of course, fans have complained in the past. However, this year marks a turning point. The new uniforms look horrendously cheap. If the league, for whatever reason, attempted to cut costs, it sure is apparent. When you make pants see-through or turn logos from embroidered patches to Party City stickers, to the point where even the players are dissatisfied, you know you did something wrong.

Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin wants to shift the blame away from the company, stating this week, “We’re purely doing exactly as we’ve been told, and we’ve been told we’re doing everything exactly right. And we’re getting the s--- kicked out of us. So that’s not fun.”

To be fair, he may have a point. He then added, “Nike designs everything…[Nike] hands us a spec…We have made everything exactly to the spec, and Nike and baseball would say, ‘Yes, you’ve done everything we’ve asked you to do.’” In Fanatics' case, it’s a “don’t shoot the messenger” defense.

This doesn’t stop the fans from blaming Fanatics. Internet reactions range from understandable frustration to incredulous humor. Here are some reactions: 

Fans react to MLB Fanatics/Nike jerseys

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The players are also disappointed with the quality of their uniforms. Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas was recently quoted as saying, “They also don’t fit right; pants are no longer as customized, and the fabric is a very different consistency.” Phillies shortstop Trea Turner also has opinions, “I know everyone hates them…We all liked what we had. We understand business, but I think everyone wanted to keep it the same way, for the most part, with some tweaks here or there.”

Nick Castellanos joked, “It’s crazy that my son’s travel team at 10U has better quality uniforms than the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Fan and player reactions seem to have lit the collective fire under MLB and Nike/Fanatics’ rear ends, as all involved are now scrambling to find a solution. 

If anything, this situation represents a broader problem within MLB as a brand: they want fans to spend more money to buy their lackluster products, while they themselves don’t want to improve upon their product. It’s, above all else, sad. If this amount of carelessness went into uniforms, who knows what the next signifier of corporate cheapness will be?