Nike Swings And Misses With See-Through Baseball Pants

MLB says the new Nike uniforms offer more stretch and are faster-drying

Late February is typically a time of glory for baseball fans, as teams take to the dugouts in spring training match-ups. But instead of talking about whose fastball looks nastiest, the baseball world is fixated on uniforms. And many think Nike has blown it.

Nike is the official outfitter of MLB and started its 10-year contract in 2020. This year, when the company rolled out the new gear, it quickly pointed out how the new uniforms would help players stay cool and improve performance.

Reception of the new uniforms manufactured by Fanatics has been underwhelming. Players and fans have taken to social media to grouse that the jerseys look cheap and flimsy, compared to past versions. And when the pants are light-colored, they’re see-through, revealing outlines of tucked-in jerseys and even the details of the compression underwear many players wear.



Compounding the problem is that there aren’t enough of the see-through pants, forcing club managers to round up last year’s models.

Over at the New York Times, the Athletic quotes Tony Clark, head of the players’ union: “The universal concern is the pant.”

In its press release announcing the new gear, MLB boasts that the changes have been years in the making, with Nike scanning 300 different players for sizing, as well as adding more stretch and lighter-weight wicking technology.

Some fans are amused by the peek-a-boo problem, posting photos from spring training that might be more at home on Only Fans than in the Grapefruit League.

 “Kinda crazy the MLB has been around for like 120 years, and they messed up… pants,” posts one on X. “Buying my wife Fanatics baseball pants instead of lingerie,” jokes another.

Caroline Means, married to Jon Means, who pitches for the Baltimore Orioles, thinks the pants problem is funny, too: “Wives are fine with it,” she posted on X.

Nike seems less amused. In a statement to the Times, Nike defended the uniforms as lighter, more flexible and the most advanced in MLB history. “The quality and the performance of our product is of the utmost importance to us,” the apparel giant said. “We will continue to work with MLB, the players and our manufacturing partner to address player uniforms.”

Typically, the early days of the season involve plenty of back-and-forth between players, clubhouse managers and outfitters, often involving custom tailoring of uniforms. By opening day -- which falls on March 28 this year -- the uniform kinks are usually worked out, and players take the field game-ready.

There also seems to be less room for customization this year, causing more player grumblings.

Quality control is just one of the problems Nike is grappling with. It has just begun laying off 1,600 workers, or about 2% of the corporate staff, part of the $2 billion in cuts it announced in December.

Nike continues to be one of the world’s most valuable brands, but many are noticing the Swoosh is losing its Midas touch. Brian Nagel, who follows the company for Oppenheimer & Co., downgraded Nike last week, writing that he sees “no quick fix” for the athletic brand’s problems.

“We come away increasingly concerned that over the next several quarters that top-line trends at the enterprise are likely to remain sluggish,” he notes, “given a combination of underlying spotty consumer demand, lulls in product innovation, and modest competitive incursions. While Nike is by no means broken, we believe that the company and its brand are transitioning near-term.”

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