I’d hate to see this guy trip and hurt himself


And now that my temper is up, I may as well go on and abuse every body I can think of.
– Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

Yeah, I know I used that same quote just a month or two ago, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.

And it’s perfect for a post in which, having ranted about one of my chief peeves just moments ago, I let loose on another one.

Look at the photo above, from the Washington Post iPad app. (Here’s the story it goes with.) See anything wrong with it?

Yeah, it’s a good action photo, the player seeming to float in the air as he runs the bases.

But I can’t enjoy it because I can’t stop thinking, When he lands, he’s liable to trip on his pants.

Yeah, I know — ballplayers have been wearing their pants like this for a long time. Rather than wear proper knicker-length pants, with the team-color stirrup showing over their socks, their pants legs go all the way to the tops of their shoes, and too often, beyond.

And it just looks stupid. Almost as stupid as wearing a ballcap with the brim artificially flat as a mathematical plane, instead of curled like a hyperbola, the way God and Abner Doubleday intended. It’s so unbelievably uncool. Like some clueless alien trying to dress like a ballplayer to pass as an earthling, and failing miserably. Players who do that look like dorks. It makes them look, well, like this. It makes me wonder, What are these people’s heads shaped like? (And yeah, I know it comes from hip-hop culture, but I don’t care — it’s definitively uncool.)

But there’s something especially awful about this particular photo, something that justifies my bringing this up again: That’s Bryce Harper, No. 34 for the Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper is known for being one of the few present-day ballplayers who still wears knickers and stirrups!

So this is a particular betrayal of tradition, and all that is right and true about the game.

Maybe it’s temporary, maybe it’s some playoff superstition thing; I don’t know. But I’m deeply disappointed. I mean, this was supposed to be a guy who gets it….

I know it won’t do any good, but I had to say something. Again. I just hate to see it.

Now, all of you kids — get offa my infield!

These guys got it.

These guys got it.

18 thoughts on “I’d hate to see this guy trip and hurt himself

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, no more “crotchety old guy” complaints about change today.

    Of course, that’s not what this was. You see, I grew up in the 60s. Therefore, I actually know what is cool and what is not. People lacking that experience don’t; they are in fact often shockingly clueless on the issue.

    I’ll never have the cachet of the generation that won WWII, and I’ll always regret it.

    But at least I know what cool is, and what it is not.

  2. Kathryn Braun Fenner

    Not seeing how he could trip on his pants unless he walks backwards. The hems bunch on the top of his feet. He would wear out the back hem, though.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I know! I guess millionaire ballplayers just don’t care…

      I’ve got pants like that. There’s this one brand of khakis I like, and those with 30-inch inseams are too short, while 32s are too long. They don’t make 31s. So I sometimes buy the 32s, and hope they’ll shrink…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Actually, the manufacturer makes 31s; stores just don’t have them.

        Yeah, I’ve tried mail-ordering them, but there’s too much variation in sizing from one pair to another; I have to try them on. The good thing about this sloppiness in sizing is that sometimes 32s fit…

    1. Tank Bilson

      You’re wrong—flat bill caps are way cooler than dorky 12 year old boy looking curved bills.

      And all those WWII fighter pilots wore their caps flat billed, and they’re way cooler than you.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Well, that’s because I know how to wear a hat. It’s a style thing to wear the flat brim. I’m not sure where that style came from, but it’s fairly recent in the last 10 years or so. Back when I was in high school, we all to great pains to make sure we had the exact right curvature to the brim of our hats. It was one of the highest forms of assault to mess with another guy’s hat.

      Same thing with the pants. I think the pro baseball players (in large part) went to the longer pants towards the middle to late 1980’s, and the rest of the baseball world followed suit. You have some holdouts, but mostly, you see long pants nowadays. Kind of a shame, since the stirrups look so much better.

      Here’s Jim Palmer showing you the Platonic Ideal of what baseball player’s stirrups should look like.

  3. Mark Stewart

    As a baseball player in the seventies and eighties I have to say I don’t mind the passing of the stirrups. Personally, they always annoyed me because when you slide into a base they would fill with clay clods – which then poured down into the cleats when one (me) stood up.

    The only thing worse than the flat brim hats are the old foam-fronted farmer hats. And those stupid seventies baseball shirts with the three-quarter colored sleeves on a white torso also sucked.

    Stirrups, farmer hats and baseball shirts – happy to leave them all in my past.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes! That’s actually better than stirrups — those are actual knee-hi socks, what players wore before stirrups!

      It’s funny how the white-socks-under-colored-socks thing got started. Some players were getting foot infections, and there was a rumor it was caused by the dye in their socks. So players started wearing white socks under the colored socks.

      But it wasn’t the dye; it was just germs.

      So you might say, a tradition born of a misunderstanding should be dropped. But that’s missing what baseball is all about! It’s part of the lore — like the Bambino curse…


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