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MLB City Connect uniforms: Ranking the new looks from genius to boring | Opinion

Richard Morin

MLB teams shook things up again with their City Connect uniforms, a series of designs meant to celebrate the team's respective communities with outside-the-box designs.

Fans have polarizing takes on many of these uniforms, which include yellow jerseys for the Red Sox, a half-invisible logo for the Giants and a dumbfounding Dodgers design.

Fourteen teams released their City Connect jerseys in conjunction with Nike. The San Diego Padres wrapped up the 2022 season of reveals with their announcement July 1. 

Here's a (very subjective) ranking of each City Connect uniform:

1. Boston Red Sox

April 6, 2021, Boston, MA:
Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, third baseman Rafael Devers, and outfielder Alex Verdugo pose for a portrait as they display 2021 Boston Red Sox Nike City Connect uniform at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts Tuesday, April 6, 2021.  
(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Nike)

I know. You're going to take one look at my Twitter bio and call this Boston bias. And although I can't be held responsible for any unconscious predispositions, you have to admit this uniform slaps.

The Red Sox understood the assignment. They connected their alternate uniforms to the colors associated with the most iconic sporting event run within city limits — the Boston Marathon.

Sure, it's a bit susceptible to memes that the Red Sox won't actually wear red socks with these uniforms. But the team has long held a special connection to the marathon, especially since the deadly 2013 bombing at the finish line.

No team captured the spirit of the City Connect initiative like the Red Sox, which is why they top this list.

Grade: A+

2. Chicago White Sox

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Monday, May 2, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The White Sox went bold with their uniforms, opting for a full black ensemble with a gothic "Southside" emblazoned across the chest. The pinstripes and white/gray trim make this an outstanding set.

My one complaint is the cap insignia. The gothic "Chi" design just isn't on par with the rest of the uniform. Perhaps a design more closely resembling the Chicago American Giants of the Negro National League would have been a better touch.

Grade: A

3. Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals' Juan Soto, wearing the City Connect jersey, takes the field before the team's baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park, Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

This might be the most underrated option out there. Unlike other brash designs, the Nationals went with a classy and clean look that checks off almost every box — and looks great.

The team took inspiration from Washington, D.C.'s iconic cherry blossom trees, whose branches adorn both the jersey and hat. The blocky "WSH" abbreviation was styled in a way to reflect the city's architecture. And the District of Columbia flag fills out the sleeve and some of the accessories. Displayed on a unique charcoal jersey background and coupled with cream pants, these uniforms are sneaky good.

For a team with perhaps the worst primary uniforms and cap insignia among MLB teams, the Nationals made a huge upgrade to their closet with these City Connect uniforms.

Grade: A-

4. Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins players celebrate Jesus Sanchez, second from right, after he hit a sacrifice fly that scored the winning run during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, June 4, 2022, in Miami. The Marlins defeated the Giants 5-4. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

The Marlins didn't sock a home run with this one, but there's nothing wrong with hitting a double. They took a big risk by deviating from their primary colors — just as the Red Sox did — and it mostly paid off for them. It's a striking tribute to the Havana Sugar Kings, a minor-league team that played in Cuba in the International League from 1954-1960 before they were relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey . The cap insignia is a Sugar Kings logo.

Still, despite a large Cuban population in the 305, Havana isn't Miami. So it's not really a City Connect, is it? Still, the jersey itself is solid. The pastel colors are authentically Miami and the wide pinstripes offer a unique look. Red or teal pants might have been more interesting than the plain white the Marlins went with, though.

Grade: B

5. Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies players in the team's new 'City Connect' uniforms.

Huge props to the Rockies for going big with these. An authentic Colorado look, the uniforms themselves appeared to be snow-capped with white shoulders over mountaintops streaking across the collarbone. The rest of the uniform is a dark green that almost appears black at first glance. The design also pays homage to the states license plate design.

It's a unique look and one that captures the spirit of City Connect. However, the cap insignia — a new circular logo — isn't the best fit with the ensemble. But there's a lot to like about these uniforms if you're a Rockies fan.

Grade: B

6. Arizona Diamondbacks

May 27, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker (53) flips the ball for an out against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Diamondbacks fans have clamored for a sand-colored jersey for some time, and they finally got one. Arizona's City Connect look is sharp if not obtrusive. The "Serpientes" script across the front is meant to honor the state's Hispanic culture  and the iconic Sonoran Desert.

There are no frills to this design, but being the only jersey of its color in MLB it didn't need any grandiose features. Still, the uniform is a little monotone with sand head-to-toe and a lack of color breaking it up. Perhaps black pants would have spiced things up. A fresh cap insignia would have also been welcome.

Grade: B-

7. Houston Astros

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. watches from the dugout during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Monday, May 2, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The only reason these uniforms crack the top 10 is because of the Astros' new space-inspired cap insignia. It is fantastic and should be used permanently.

There's some fun piping inspired by the Astros' iconic "tequila sunrise" uniforms, but ultimately these sets leave a lot to be desired. "Space City" seems a little forced and — as we will continue to see — there is far too much navy blue in the City Connect series. And numbers on the pants? No, thanks.

Grade: C

8. Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers had some fun with this one and it shows. I especially love the baseball-grill logo on the sleeve, which really drives home the summer-in-Wisconsin theme used as inspiration here. The uniform also expertly pulls from the Milwaukee city flag.

Still, the uniform itself falls a little short. The jersey logo looks clunky and would work much better on a pullover. Question for Nike: Do each of these jerseys have to be button-downs? I'm also not sold on the "MKE" cap insignia. The name and numbers on the back should be yellow with blue trim and not the other way around. And it's a smaller detail but the collar banding doesn't match well with the sleeve banding.

Grade: C

9. Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman delivers against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of a baseball game, Friday, June 3, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Cubs could definitely do more with this set, but the actual product isn't horrible. The uniforms seem bland at first glance but offer a surprising amount of detail — especially the "Y" patch on the shoulder, which subtly pays tribute to the main branches of the Chicago River.

The cap insignia works well, and the baby blue accents are nice, too. It's certainly a safe approach, but it's not the worst in the series.

Grade: C

10. San Diego Padres

Holy pastel.

These uniforms are utterly garish and unique if nothing else. The vibrant style — coupled with two different-colored sleeves in a palette that in no way matches the Padres' existing template — definitely had fans talking in wake of its release.

Online users jokingly pointed out Mountain Dew's Baja Blast soda, 1990s TV cult classic Saved By The Bell and the forthcoming Margot Robbie-led Barbie film as possible mediums of inspiration. Regardless, these uniforms scream "South Beach" more than "San Diego" to me.

Grade: C-

11. San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants unveiled their Nike City Connect jerseys, featuring assistant coach Alyssa Nakken and players Kevin Gausman, Brandon Crawford and Alex Wood.

The idea here was great, but the execution just fell flat. Anyone who's attended night games at Oracle Park knows fog is a huge part of San Francisco's baseball imagery. The notion of incorporating that into a City Connect uniform was logical.

The end result, however, was not great. The "G" gradient logo was a surprising choice. Why not make a city connection with "SF" instead? Or "The Bay?" The logo and numbers on the back are also difficult to see due to the gradient effect. Other than the golden gate shoulder logo, which is quite lovely, the Giants largely missed with this one.

Grade: C-

12. Los Angeles Angels

Jun 12, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA;  Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval (43) pitches in the third inning of the game against the New York Mets at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The uniforms themselves look pretty good, but they miss the mark from a City Connect perspective. I've always found it strange the team uses "Angels" across both its home and away jerseys, as opposed to using a city name on the latter. So the Angels would surely use a city name on their City Connect jerseys, right? Nope.

The retro look is cool — as are the two-toned caps — but these uniforms only make a vague connection to Southern California and nothing more. I do love the diamond-style number box used on the jerseys, though. Great touch.

Grade: C-

13. Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brady Singer throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros Friday, June 3, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Clearly, a lot of detail was worked into these uniforms. Unfortunately, most of it didn't work. The focal point here is the new "KC" logo inspired by the city's fountains, but the logo is hard to visualize from a distance and isn't a strong aesthetic choice for the jersey. The triple-thick braiding on the arms also doesn't flow well with the rest of the uniform.

And it's another navy blue jersey added to the mix. It would have been nice to see the Royals dip more into their city's sports history — such as the iconic Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues — to find inspiration for the uniforms. A gold-inspired uniform also could have worked.

Grade: D

14. Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers' Hanser Alberto, right, beats New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor to second base, after a throwing error by first baseman Pete Alonso pulled Lindor away from the bag during the second inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, June 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

It's hard to understand what the Dodgers were thinking here. The idea was to honor the 40th anniversary of "Fernandomania," but these uniforms simply don't push the envelope in any way.

Essentially, they are blue versions of the team's current home jersey — just with "Los Dodgers" instead of "Dodgers." The team even uses the "Los Dodgers" script as a cap insignia, a choice that leaves the hat looking more like a novelty purchase at Lids than a true on-field cap.

Matching pants leaves the team decked in Dodger blue literally from head to toe. There isn't enough present in the design to break up the dominant color. And there really aren't any other design elements to honor the city. 

The Dodgers' take on the City Connect assignment is the equivalent of showing up to the science fair with a volcano you put together that morning.

Grade: F