Earlier this past week, baseball Twitter was ignited in a wave of “You’ve got to be kidding me” controversy, when Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger shared a screenshot of a letter he had received from MLB officials. The letter indicated that Clevinger was in violation of MLB uniform policy when he opted to wear some custom cleats during a game, and warned that if he continued to ignore the MLB policy he might be fined, or subject to disciplinary action.
In general, the online consensus was that this was a ridiculous rule to enforce. Clevinger’s cleats had been decorated in a charcoal and pink pattern with an East Indian theme. Nothing about the colors or the graphic was distracting or offensive. In fact, from a distance I can’t imagine even the most eagle-eyed batter would have even known there was a design on the shoes.
Clevinger, not ready to take this laying down, posted that he’d be sporting the following over the Mother’s Day weekend (when pink cleats are incidentally allowed).
Ready for Mother’s Day weekend! pic.twitter.com/WVayt9RZ9Q— Mike Clevinger (@Mike_Anthony13) May 11, 2018
And now, it seems that Clevinger isn’t the only player being targeted by MLB. They’ve also come for Ben Zobrist. What pattern or image did Zobrist display that had him in violation of the rules you might ask? None whatsoever. Zobrist’s crime is in his penchant for sporting throwback black cleats during Wrigley day games.
Yes, you read that right. Zobrist is being singled out for punishment because he likes to wear plain black cleats once or twice a week.
Dear @mlb, I still like you but this is rediculous. For the last two years, I have worn black spikes exclusively at Wrigley Field for Day games to pay homage to the history of our great game, and now I am being told I will be fined and disciplined if I continue to wear them. When I was a kid, I was inspired by highlights of the greats such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial in the 1950s-60s and was captured by the old uniforms and all black cleats with flaps. @newbalancebaseball made a kid’s dream come true by making some all black spikes with the special tongue as well as the “Benny the Jet” @pf_flyers cleats. I am curious as to why @mlb is spending time and money enforcing this now when they haven’t done it previously in the last year and beyond. I have heard nothing but compliments from fans that enjoy the “old school” look. Maybe there is some kid out there that will be inspired to look more into the history of the game by the “flexibility” that I prefer in the color of my shoes. Sincerely, Ben Zobrist
His statement is as polite and Ben Zobrist-like as one might imagine, but when a player like Zobrist is calling out your bizarre and archaic policies, maybe it’s time for the MLB to adjust their thinking on this matter.
Because, quite honestly, they have more pressing matters to think about than whether or not a cleat is at least 51% blue.
Update: Rather than take player comments to heart, the MLB issued the following statement about custom cleats:
“We have shoe regulations that were negotiated with the union in the last round of bargaining. If players have complaints about the regulations, they should contact their union which negotiated them. We have informed the union that we are prepared to negotiate rules providing players with more flexibility, and that issue is currently being discussed as part of a larger discussion about apparel and equipment.”