BY MIKE CAROZZA
MLB.com along with every other self-respecting baseball website has a World Series position-by-position breakdown, but not a single one is covering the WPW angle. The gear of the World Series, in its own respect is worth examining. Think about any big game you’ve played in—would you have gone out in the field with even a speck of doubt about the tools you were using to win? No chance. Look good, feel good, play good. The Giants and Royals are at the apex of the game and you can be sure that every guy in these lineups is 100% confident in the equipment he’s using.
From WPW’s perspective, though, some guys make it look better than others. Below is a totally arbitrary, blatantly subjective breakdown, position-by-position, of who’s got the edge in the (pivotal) “Swagger” category in the 2014 World Series.
Pence (profile) vs Aoki is a great way to start this breakdown because its a perfect example of a better player with far less style or grace in his play. Hunter Pence’s awkwardness is so well-documented he made a spoof video about it:
Pence is the only guy I’ve ever seen wear his pants above his knees, which is strange and also strange-looking.
I give Pence some credit for individuality and for his bulldog demeanor, but Aoki is also unique, but not in a strange-looking way like Pence. He’s got some one-of-a-kind shiny blue Asics cleats that really stand out, plus another one-of-a-kind elbow guard made by Asics as well. As well as he plays, it doesn’t take much to LOOK better than Pence on a ballfield. Ugly swing, ugly throw, ugly run. On the other hand, an Asian-style, closed leg lift, sweeping lefty swing is modern art, and Aoki’s got a pretty good one. He gets the nod here.
Lorenzo Cain (profile) has been making a name for himself during this run as an elite defender, and that is crystal clear at this point. The Giants are feeling pretty good in center field, too, though, with Blanco who makes tough plays look easy on a nightly basis. As far as outfield defense goes, this is about as good as it gets. Blanco definitely makes it look good, but Cain and his adidas gear and powder blues just look better. Is that subjective, absolutely. Powder blue for the win.
No contest. I know Ishikawa is coming into this Series feeling as good as he’s ever felt on a baseball field, but here’s all you need to know about this Swagger matchup, from a recent article about Ishikawa getting sent the new Nike Lunar Vapor Trout cleats before the NLCS:
Ishikawa showed the cleats to Bumgarner.
“I said, ‘Am I cool enough to pull these off?’ ” Ishikawa said. “And (Bumgarner) said, without hesitation, ‘No.’ “
That is hilarious for a lot of reasons. Alex Gordon’s (profile) repertoire, on the other hand, is no joke. He does everything right, and unique, with a sick set of Lousville Slugger System 7 batting gloves and a digi camo Evoshield leg guard that just completes the blowout here. Also, you simply cannot beard better than Gordon beards.
Escobar gets plenty of points for really bringing his best when it comes to footwear. We’ve seen him in converted Kobe 8s, as well as some other really clean colorways. Crawford (profile), though, is an athletic wonder and his style of play is jaw-dropping. He is as graceful a short stop as there is today, and he also has one of the best walk out songs in the game right now, Drake’s “Believe Me.” Cold-blooded.
On the diamond Crawford has the long-haired, laid-back look of a guy that is in his element, at his happiest, like a world-class surfer shredding a wave. Its easy for him.
Moose vs Panda (profile), a battle of mammalian beasts, is one of the more intriguing matchups we’ve got in the series. Sandoval has World Series MVP swagger, a type of swagger that just 58 men who’ve ever walked the Earth can claim. Moustakas on the other hand hasn’t been here before, but after 4 bombs in his first 8 playoff games and some big-time defensive plays, he’s not lacking for confidence either.
As for the look, Panda and Moose both bring it. Moose rocks a fresh pair of volted Franklin Natural II custom batting gloves, while Panda mixes up his UA exclusives day-to-day. We even saw him rocking the first-ever Batman batting gloves in a game back in August (unavailable as far as we can tell). Where Panda sets himself apart, though, is his SSK leather. Great colorway, drop-dead gorgeous glove. That, and the ice in his veins is what gives him the edge here.
Omar Infante and Joe Panik (profile) have a similar, understated style on the field that reflects their style of play. They both let their game do the talking, not a ton of rah-rah, expressiveness, or style points. Infante does have a cool feature in his batting gloves, like Derek Jeter’s Jordans, with armor embedded in the top of the hand of his Franklin CFX Pros. He’s pretty much standard issue, as is Joey Panik.
Where Panik stands out, though, is that textbook left-handed swing. When the hips fire, the top-hand releases and Panik is fully uncoiled at the finish, you might as well be looking at the logo. Panik’s swing is the prototype.
Unlike Panik, Belt’s left-handed swing is not very photogenic. Though extremely quick and powerful, its just not as pretty, though he gets points for a flat-out savage pimp job like the one seen after his 18th inning game-winner in the longest playoff game ever.
Hosmer (profile), though, is just an all-around swagger hound, a WPW follower (student of the game), and could be the freshest 1B in the league. It doesn’t hurt that his 1.314 playoff OPS is just about double his 2014 regular season mark, which is completely ludicrous. The guy just looks like he’s having a great time out there.
Hosmer loses points for a weird haircut, but not enough to change the outcome in this matchup.
Analysts have pointed behind the dish as maybe the key position that has carried these two scrappy teams so far. In Posey (profile) and Perez, you have the two best backstops in each league, both with different styles but tremendous results. Salvy (profile) racks up points for his various sets of All Star gear, which I’ve mentioned is arguably the best in the game.
Where Salvy loses points though, is in his performance. Perez, though he got a legendary walk-off knock in the wildcard game, has been lost at the plate during the postseason. A .118 playoff batting average is not swag, no matter how good you look.
Posey, underwhelming as he might be stylistically, just performs. When you’re wearing two World Series rings with a Rookie of the Year and an MVP award in the trophy case, at age 27, the rest of your outfit doesn’t matter.
As much as any position in sports, the word “presence” is used to measure starting pitchers. Both of these aces have it in spades. Bumgarner and Shields, at 6’5/235 and 6’3/215 respectively, are imposing forces on the bump. Both will gladly throw fists if not baseballs.
Intimidation is a strength for both of these front-end horses, but what really makes this matchup a landslide is blatantly irresponsible nicknaming. Somewhere along the way, someone started calling James Shields “Big Game” James, a catchy slogan, yes, but deserved? Absolutely not. Shields is 3-4 with a bloated 5.19 ERA in his playoff career, getting through 7 innings just one time in his 9 career playoff starts. Last I checked, playoffs qualify as “Big Games.”
It may not be Shields’ fault that the name has stuck, but its a glaring misnomer, especially when put up against a guy who threw 8 innings of shutout ball in the World Series at age 21.
Bumgarner is the second-coming of Randy Johnson, he could care less about who’s in the box (“not a video guy,” his words), and he drinks 6 beers at a time.
Total: Giants 5, Royals 4
In a tight one, the Giants edge out a slight Swagger advantage over the Royals. Regardless of the outcome, I’m ready to watch these two warrior ballclubs scrap. So many enjoyable players to root for, and two teams that so clearly enjoy the game.
If it were up to you, who would you have taken?
Enjoy the Series. Tweet me.
This dude is out of his friggin mind right now and you have to wonder just how much power he derives from those stirrups. Check his profile out here.
I might be late to the game on this one, considering the Twitter newscycle nowadays, but Jeremy Guthrie wore this shirt last night in his post-game press conference after the 11 year vet dealt in his MLB postseason debut—and it was awesome. Its tough to read in this photo, but it says “These O’s Ain’t Royal,” an awesomely clever, harmless, non-venomous play on the Chris Brown song “Loyal” that plays 85 times a day on every pop radio station in the world. Its funny, right?!
But wait! According to Twitter’s grimiest, slimiest, cave-dwelling trolls, Guthrie is now “CLASSLESS! ARGHHHH!!!”
Congrats @TheRealJGuts for showing a true lack of class wearing that shirt post game.You’re like the Ron Burgundy of pitchers but not funny.
— Josh Charles (@MrJoshCharles) October 15, 2014
“A True Lack of Class,” says Twitter Troll
God forbid an athlete show even a molecule of personality or E!SPN and other click-baiters will run a headline like this, reinforce the behavior of these trolls, and force the “offending” player to apologize for it, further discouraging any athlete from having any fun at all with fans or showing any signs of a beating heart. And then people turn around and criticize guys like Jeter and Belichick for being boring and playing it by the book every time.
OH MY GOD JEREMY GUTHRIE IS ROOTING FOR HIS TEAM TO WIN, WHAT AN ARROGANT CLASSLESS GUTLESS SCUM OF A MAN!!!
We can all agree that every last one of these buffoons needs his internet license revoked, and if you disagree you are one of them. But the general disgust I have for these parasites obscures what makes this particular situation even more ridiculous. What in “These O’s Ain’t Royal” is actually offensive? Its funny, harmless trash-talk directed at no one. I still can’t figure it out, and I’d bet my life savings that most of the deeply offended people (who have nothing better to do than find ways to be deeply offended) wrote something infinitely more hateful and offensive.
I try to keep my opinions out of the equation here, but if I can help just one Twitter troll see the light, then this was all worth it.
Most importantly, I can’t find the shirt available online. Let me know if you see it.
One of KC’s playoff heros, Lorenzo Cain is a breath of fresh air for WPW with some adidas gear we haven’t seen anywhere else.
Check out his profile here.
Quick note to let you guys know that Louisville Slugger has teamed up with Lizard Skins to offer select cuts pre-wrapped with the bat wrap that is taking over the Big Leagues at no extra charge. Some reading this might think “taking over” is an overstatement for the kind of grips we once thought were only for Little Leaguers. Well, David Ortiz, David Wright, Bryce Harper, and about 160 other MLB players swing with ‘em now, and that’s after just two seasons of existence. That doesn’t just happen because they’re fancy looking.
Hosmer’s bright yellow Lizard Skin:
All pre-wrapped grips are 0.5mm.
Louisville Slugger bats pre-wrapped with Lizard Skins include the MLB® Prime Birch I13 available in wine high-gloss finish retailing for $129.99, the MLB Prime Maple C271 with black high-gloss finish at $119.99 and the MLB Prime Ash M110 model in black high-gloss for $99.99. There’s a C271 model available in M9 Maple with black finish for $79.99, an I13 Pro Stock in black for $49.99 and a Pro Stock Lite C271 model in black for $49.99. All Louisville Slugger bats pre-wrapped with Lizard Skins can be viewed and purchased online and at sporting goods and baseball specialty stores.
Get each one at the following links:
One question arises that I’m very interested to hear from the ballplayers in the audience: does this make you more likely to buy the bat? Or would you rather buy them separately and do it yourself? Isn’t there something sacred about wrapping your own bat? Look no further than these guys for what I mean.
No batting gloves, no problem. Check out the man who conquered Kershaw here.
The 1st WPW follower in a League Championship series! Check out his update here.
The AL MVP not named Trout, V-Mart had a career year at 35 and is fully fitted in Mizuno’s finest. Check his profile out here.
Derek Jeter ended a 20 year Yankee career on Sunday. At 40 years old, he’s been a Yankee Shortstop for half of his life, one of the most scrutinized jobs on Earth. You’d think maybe a week’s vacation would be in order?
Na, Jeter tried the retired life on Monday. It was boring. So he started a media company yesterday.
“Introducing The Players’ Tribune, a new media platform that will present the unfiltered voices of professional athletes, bringing fans closer to the games they love than ever before. Founded by Derek Jeter, The Players’ Tribune aims to provide unique insight into the daily sports conversation and to publish first-person stories directly from athletes.”
From what it sounds like, Derek and his team are attempting to cut out “the middle man,” in this case the media, who so often fabricate controversy in the TMZ age of media. Check out Jeter’s first post here. Its worth reading.
The Players Tribune sounds awesome and I can’t help but see some parallels to WPW. Our goal here, and I’ve said it before, is and will always be to cut out the marketing bullshit. To eliminate the fluff. So as a site with a similar philosophy, I really hope The Players Tribune succeeds.
P.S. Jeets, if you’re listening, I know of this great gear website that your readers would love (wink, wink).
JOSH HARRISON PROFILE COMING TODAY
Nobody’s got a better set-up than Salvador Perez behind the dish. Check it out here as we get ready for the Royals first playoff game since 1985!
Of the 2014 playoff teams, here are the guys we’ve profiled. There are 39 here, and Josh Harrison will be the 40th. Some may be outdated and I’d love for you guys to let me know if you see something that needs to be changed:
Kansas City Royals
Raul Ibanez (from 2012 playoffs)
St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers
Adrian Gonzalez (hitting only)
San Francisco Giants
I had a lot more written down, but I just had to scrap it because its all meaningless. Just roll the tape:
“The one I did not want to see forever in the postseason was actually Jeter. Jeter was just uncomfortable to pitch to, especially in the postseason.” -Pedro Martinez
I don’t even know if my brain can comprehend how much I’ll miss my childhood and adulthood idol, Derek Jeter. All I know is that I feel lucky to have been around to see him. Here’s a few shots of his gear through the years so I don’t just sit here and cry all night.
A good look at Jeter’s career-long companion, the Louisville Slugger P72 Ash bat, which he used to rack up 5 runs in his first World Series victory vs Atlanta in ’96. The 22 year old Rookie of the Year hit .361 in the postseason, the Yankees first championship run since 1978.
In ’97, Fila of all companies signed Jeter and outfitted him with some of the ugliest cleats ever made. Jeter managed to steal 23 bags with ‘em, anyways. Notice the Franklin Pro Classics, too.
The 90s were the first of three decades that Jeter has crushed life in. His chances of destroying future decades are still very high.
1998, at his first ASG. MVP OF THE GREATEST TEAM EVER. 125 wins and 50 losses. Finished 3rd in the season MVP voting behind Juan Gonzalez and Nomar Garciaparra. Juan Gonzalez hit 45 bombs and drove in 157 runs. He was the size of a horse. Nomar, at 24, hit 35 bombs, and drove in 122 (in 143 games). He never hit more than 28 homers in a season again.
Some time in August of that season, Jeter steps out of Fila (and the shoes immediately shrivel up and die like in The Wizard of Oz) and into a pair of Nikes. Earth resumes spinning on its axis.
It would be cool if someone could ID those.
As Michael Jordan says goodbye to the Bulls, he handpicks Jeter to be Jumpman’s torchbearer. Jeter wears it well, including these first-ever Jordan baseball cleats not worn by Jordan himself, Jeter’s custom Jordan XIVs.
He switched out the Rawlings wristband, and you can also see him rocking a simple Benik wrist guard. Also switched out the Gargoyle F-8 flip-ups, Ken Griffey Jr.’s signature shades that came out in 1997 (thanks Brent for finding those) for Oakleys. Walt Frazier would say that Derek Jeter, by 1999, is officially stylin’ and profilin’. A third ring, for the pinky, while the Yankees finished the season on a 12 game World Series winning streak.
In the year 2000, he poured a drink on his boss.
Couldn’t help myself on this one. Jeter holding some kind of primitive telescope or something in his fourth ticker tape parade.
In 2001, Jeter earns one of his many nicknames, Mr. November, with a walk-off HR off Byung Hyun Kim to tie the World Series at 2 games a piece. He did it in these Jordans with his “Turn 2″ Foundation embroidered on the heels.
Between 2002 and 2005, Jeter won 3 consecutive Gold Gloves with a Rawlings Heart of the Hide PRODJ2. Major League coaches voted on it. They watch all the games. But he was a terrible fielder, though, because you know, WAR and stuff.
A freshhhh pair of Jordan BGs from his 2006 season, in which Jeter finished second in the MVP vote, behind a big season from Justin Morneau. Morneau’s teammate from the Twins took the batting title, beating Jeter out .347 to .343.
These are Jeter’s 2009 Jordans. He broke Lou Gehrig’s All-Time Yankee hit record with his 2,722nd hit in these, then topped off his World Series resume with a .407 batting average, and a fist-full of rings.
For his 3000th hit game he wore these special Jeter Cut DJ3K cleats. In that game he hit a game tying home run off David Price for 3000 and finished the game 5 for 5, with the game-winning RBI.
He also wore these Jordan Team BGs, some of my favorites ever.
For tonight’s walk-off in his final home game, Jeter wore these gorgeous Jordan Jeter Lux cleats. To see Jeter’s current (and final) profile, check it out here. Thank you, Derek. If there was one guy that I wish could play forever, it would be you.
New Balance released a little more on the 3000v2 and Minimus cleats that we took the wraps off on Monday.
The videos show a little bit about them paired with some skrillexy music that actually is pretty tight.
More in words below…
3000v2, from New Balance:
As the regular baseball season comes to a close, some New Balance baseball athletes will head into the postseason sporting an updated version of the popular 3000 cleat, the 3000v2, featuring the first dual density midsole in baseball. The two layers of the midsole will have athletes questioning whether they are wearing cleats at all. Revlite RC foam runs the length of the foot bed, providing excellent responsiveness against spike pressure, and traditional Revlite foam gives extra cushioning under the heel. With more mesh on the cleat’s no-sew Fantom Fit upper, the 3000v2 gives the athlete the lightweight feel of a running shoe on spikes. A highly polished outsole plate provides a more consistent traction platform, and is easier to clean after each game.
The 3000v2 will release on October 1 at $90, in a low top only. You can order them right now here.
- 12.4 oz
- 11mm drop
Minimus, from New Balance
An innovative concept, the lightweight Minimus cleat offers unrivaled flexibility, providing elite players with the freedom of natural movement and articulation underfoot. The Flex Motion Zone plate maximizes underfoot flexibility, allowing natural foot movement. With a 4MM drop , it is the same as the popular Mx20 training shoe, allowing players to play in the same style footwear they train in.
Minimus also releases on 10/1, at a $120 clip. Order them right now here.
- 9.8 oz
- 4MM drop, same as popular Mx20 training shoe, allowing players to play in the same style footwear they train in
I love days like these. New Balance sent us through some gorgeous shots of their two newest ponies in what is now undeniably a two-horse race between Nike and New Balance for baseball cleat supremacy.
The ones pictured above, the New Balance 3000v2, are the new edition of New Balance’s comfort-driven 3000, worn by guys like Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria. New Balance really showed off their attention to detail with the implementation of a digital camo embossed effect that appears throughout the cleat. As much digi camo as we’re seeing these days, NB’s design team did a great job getting it in there in a way that was subtle but still distinctive. I’ve never been one to get too worked up about the bottoms of a shoe since it gets dirty in the first 10 steps you take, but these are pretty sexy.
Below you can get a look at the colorways. Baseball Express is showing these “On Order” right now in 11 colorways. Shop them here.
As for the Minimus, this cleat takes the name of a line of running/training shoes that New Balance says is “a new place on the spectrum from barefoot running to the traditional maximum-cushioning running shoe.” You can tell by looking that the drop (height difference between the heel of the shoe and the toe of the shoe) is minimal (get it, Minimus?) which should make these cleats as low to the ground as any that’s ever been made.
We haven’t seen the Minimus for sale online yet, but our guess is they’ll show up very soon.
We will have more details on this one tomorrow, but I wanted to at least show you guys the photos.
Which would you rock?
Just figured I’d let you guys know about a bat I really like that is on sale at Baseball Express. The Brett Bros Composites. I have been swinging the Gobon 271 thanks to a teammate who let me borrow it and I absolutely love it. It is as balanced a bat as I’ve ever swung, and the ball seems to really jump. That plus the fact that you get a 120 day warranty for $40 is as good a deal as you’ll ever see.
Looks like the sale is on for 3 days.
Get a Brett Bat here.
There’s hardly been advancement in bat weights – until Varo Baseball came along. Varo made an appearance in the All Star Game and since then has been popping up in on-deck circles throughout the MLB.
Why are Big Leaguers picking up Varo? Our advanced weight distribution technology creates game-like swings that improves a player’s mechanics and strengthens baseball muscles. Weight placed at the end also provides barrel ‘feel’ through the zone, encouraging an inside path to the baseball. All this allows you to finish through the ball since you can feel the barrel.
Swing Varo today – Varo is so confident you’ll love the swing, they offer a Perfect Swing Guarantee. If you don’t love it, Varo will take it back, no questions asked.
And, each Varo is made right here in the USA for ultimate quality.
Grab your Varo today and get 10% off your purchase at varobaseball.com with discount code “WhatProsWear”.
Editor’s Note: I want to mention that Varo sent a weight over to WPW (Mike) earlier this year and my teammates and I have really enjoyed it. It truly does give you a balanced feel. I attribute the difference to the air-holes. They slow down your swing using air resistance and the swing was heavier, but much more balance than a traditional weight. Hard to really explain it unless you swing it. I would absolutely recommend it if you’re looking for a new weight. You won’t be disappointed.
Posey was swinging Marucci for long enough now that we needed to update it. A few other tweaks too. Check it out here.
Pedroia will get the next update, since he’s made the opposite switch from Marucci to Louisville (its a variation of the S318 that Pedroia had named for him, the DP318). Louisville tells us that Pedey gave the DP318 a slightly bigger barrel than the S318.
Check these monsters out here.