Nationals unveil another new look

Tyler Clippard, far left, Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan show off the Nationals' second major uniform change in three years.
Tyler Clippard, far left, Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan show off the Nationals' second major uniform change in three years. (Katherine Frey)
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Dan Steinberg
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Maybe the cocktail napkins should have been the clue.

When the Nationals gathered VIPs, sponsors, season-ticket holders and media members for a fashion show Wednesday night, there were pre-event cocktails, and pre-event cocktail napkins, adorned with the trademark curly 'W' logo.

Thirty minutes after the drinks were poured, the team's second major uniform change in three years had been revealed, and there were a whole lot more curly Ws in the Nats Park Stars & Stripes Club. The new home uniform will have a curly 'W' on the left chest instead of the old block "Nationals." The patriotic blue alternate uniform will have a red-white-and-blue curly W on its chest. The sleeves of all four jerseys will be adorned with the team's new primary logo, featuring a curly W.

"We accomplished what we wanted to - something sharp and different and with more emphasis on the curly W, which is what everyone wanted," owner Mark Lerner told me after the affair. "Everyone wants the W."

Well, they're going to get it. There are also a host of other changes. The home weekday uniform will have red numbers on the right chest, blue and red piping down the middle, and new piping on the pants, without any of the old gold accents. The red alternates will have blue and white piping down the front. The piping on all of the sleeves has been moved to the end. The road hat is a darker blue, with a red bill, for both the gray and the patriotic blue uniforms.

But the curly 'W' is the headliner here.

"From a brand perspective, our ability to develop the curly 'W' into something that's iconic and instantly recognizable and understood is exactly what we're about," COO Andy Feffer told the media. "And the more equity that we can build in that simple, easy to understood symbol and what it stands for - youth energy, authenticity . . . If we're able to communicate that in an authentic way that really resonates, it's a much more effective play. And oh, by the way, it looks great. You'll see it on TV, it'll pop, it's simple to understand."

Simple to spell, too, as the wags immediately noted. The home jerseys will never again be misspelled, unless someone forgets how to spell 'W.'

The Nats' player models said they were on board, mostly praising the white home jerseys for their brighter white, and a cleaner overall look.

"Like the Dodgers uniforms," Ryan Zimmerman said.

"The white one actually has a little bit more character to it," Ian Desmond said. "It's not expansion team-y, with the big block lettering across it. It kind of gives us a little character. Hopefully we can live up to it."

But this wasn't just a night for fashion criticism, which is good, because that's about all I've got.

"You guys don't have to ask fake uniform questions if you don't want," Zimmerman kindly said. So he then answered questions about losing out on the Gold Glove to Scott Rolen - "it's so hard to win those things, there's so many good players, that you're more surprised I think when you do win one," he said. And he answered questions about GM Mike Rizzo's statement that the Nats have already reached out to the representative of free-agent ace Cliff Lee - "Throwing that kind of money at a player [shows] that we're going in the right direction, but at the same time we have some other people that we need to sign I think before you go after him," Zimmerman said.

And he answered questions about being a fashion model.

"I'm not really good at that," he said. "Nor do I know if I want to be good at that or I should be good at that."

Others were more comfortable talking uniforms.

"If you lined up all the jerseys of all the [MLB] teams across a wall and you looked at that," Feffer said, "you would immediately see that the Nationals stand out as something different."

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