Fernando Lamas, the famous Argentinian actor who inspired not only Billy Crystal’s Fernando character on “Saturday Night Live” but also the Most Interesting Man in the World character from the Dos Equis ads, once said, “It is better to look good than to feel good.”
This quote works better at the club than the clubhouse. The stats and standings reflect quality of performance, not sartorial splendor.
But there is still something to be said for gorgeous baseball garb. And while the sport has come a long way from the retina-burning color catastrophe known as the 1970s, when experimentation was in vogue and powder blue carried unusual prevalence, some uniforms are simply better than others.
So we had Major League players to separate the stud duds from the dud duds. We polled 85 players on their favorite uniforms, with the caveat that they could not select their current team.
Here are the results of this unscientific survey, the results of which were anything but uni-animous.
1-tie) Dodgers, 10 votes
The billowy script Dodgers in an alluring angle and a blue so distinctive that it has come to bear the name of the team. The red numbers that pop, as if dropped straight from the heart to the left upper abdomen. The interlocking LA on the sleeve, matching the simple-but-distinctive blue caps. All of these elements combine to make the Dodgers’ home white somehow shine a little bit brighter. It is a timeless, trimless look, baseball’s accouterment answer to the American flag.
Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt, who evidently respected his 2018 World Series opponent for more than their play: “Just the crisp, clean white with the blue lettering and the one red number. That’s really clean. And even their grey uniforms with the blue and just the red number kind of stands out.”
Astros pitcher Collin McHugh: “I think they’re the most classic. They haven’t changed since 1940, except for the L.A. and the red number. No stripe on the pants, all blue hat. They have two uniforms, that’s it. I like them. I think they’re really cool.”
Mariners outfielder Jay Bruce: “There’s a purity to it.”
Cardinals outfielder Jose Martinez: “That Dodger Blue is something.”
1-tie) Yankees, 10 votes
The pull and the power of the pinstripes -- even for those who don’t root for the Yankees and, indeed, actively root against the Yankees -- is undeniable. Something about those vertical navy lines has the unusual ability to take the anonymous likes of Luke Voit and Gio Urshela and turn them into superstars. And the interlocking N and Y logo might be the most recognizable in all the world of sport. And as a nod to their storied history, they don’t put names on the back of their jerseys (although there have certainly been days in this injury-riddled season when names would have been especially helpful for identification purposes).
Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak: “You have to respect the history."
Nationals catcher Yan Gomes: “It's such a historic one. It hasn't changed or anything. They been doing that forever.”
Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin: “The pinstripes are pretty cool.”
3) Braves, 9 votes
The Braves made some very small changes in a refresh this year, most notably by bringing back an alternate red jersey. But once they graduated from their basic and blah home getups and all-powder-blue road unis that they wore from 1980-86, they knew not to let a good thing get away (especially when they won 14 straight division titles). Their look has remained relatively static since '87, and these voters like it that way.
Astros outfielder Josh Reddick: “I’m going to be biased, because it’s my home state, but I’ve always loved Atlanta’s. The Tomahawk. Especially the old school with the lower-case A.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout: “I just like the look of them.” (It’s not much of a quote, really, but when Mike Trout tells us his favorite of something, we listen.)
Padres infielder Greg Garcia: “It’s just classic.”
4) Mariners, 6 votes
Like Kriss Kross, Koosh balls, and Steve Urkel, teal enjoyed its peak of popularity in the 1990s, when the Charlotte Hornets, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Jose Sharks and, yes, the M’s rode the blue-green wave. The color is no longer trendy, but its impact endured with the handful players who expressed teal’s appeal.
Tigers pitcher Blaine Hardy: "I've always been a huge fan of the Mariners colors, and that's kind of skewed because I'm from Seattle. But they have that teal, that unique bluish-green, that I really love."
Nationals first baseman Matt Adams: “Growing up watching Ken Griffey Jr. in that uni, he was my role model growing up, so that’s definitely the one for me.”
5-tie) Cardinals, 5 votes
A couple voters singled out the cream alternates, which are worn for Saturday home games, as their favorite, while others sided with the traditional home white. Beyond the hue and some red piping, the difference is the script-lettered “St. Louis” on the creams vs. the “Cardinals” on the whites. But both feature the iconic birds on the bat logo across the chest.
Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.: “Growing up, that was my favorite team. And also I’m from Virginia and our state bird is the cardinal.”
Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings: "I always enjoy going to St. Louis, because red is so distinctive. It sticks out."
5-tie) D-backs, 5 votes
To be upfront and honest, there wasn’t actual consistency in terms of which D-backs uniforms were selected. Though the Arizona franchise really hasn’t been around long, there are a ton to choose from. Orioles first baseman Mark Trumbo likes the throwbacks to the 2001 World Series era -- the home vest look that, colors aside, was actually old-school in style. Astros catcher Max Stassi singled out the maroon, or “Sedona red,” jerseys that debuted in the club’s 2007 rebrand. But even the mildly controversial, futuristic look adopted in 2016, when the D-backs began wearing particularly dark road grays and snakeskin pants, got some love here.
Padres outfielder Wil Myers: "I'm going with a really unpopular opinion, and I'll say the Diamondbacks. I like that shade of gray. That's very out there. I know I'm the only one, but I like that darker gray."
Braves catcher Tyler Flowers: "I might be one of the few that likes their new setup over the past three years with the dark gray look. I actually think it's pretty cool."
7-tie) Giants, 4 votes
The Giants are unique in that their home “whites” are actually cream. Alas, the cream didn’t rise to the top of this poll, but it did engender enthusiasm from a few voters.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge: "I've always been a fan of the San Francisco Giants. They've got so many different uniforms and alternates, like that cream-colored home jersey they have. That's pretty nice."
Marlins pitcher (and former Giants closer) Sergio Romo: “The cream uniforms. You can’t beat them.”
7-tie) Rockies, 4 votes
An appreciation of the color purple is not limited to Prince fans. The Rockies demonstrated some violet behavior when they made purple their primary hue upon their 1993 arrival, a nod to the “purple mountain majesties” of “America The Beautiful.” Though purple once relayed royalty, it has not been as popular a pick among sports teams as it arguably ought to be. But the Rockies rock the purple well.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis: "I'm going to stay away from the Yankees because I don't want to give them any credit. Stay away from the Cubs because they beat us [in the 2016 World Series]. I like the Rockies uniforms, to be honest. I like the purple and black."
Twins pitcher (and Colorado native) Taylor Rogers: “I like those Rockies hats when they tie the mountains in and it’s got the state flag in it.”
7-tie) Pirates, 4 votes
The Steel City’s steadiness in team tints is something to be celebrated. Be it on the ice at PPG Paints Arena, on the gridiron at Heinz Field or within the picture-perfect confines of PNC Park, Pittsburgh is bathed in black and gold. And because even the most garish styles tend to go and come around again, the bumblebee yellow jerseys, striped black pants and pillbox-style hats of the 1970s made a recent return as the go-to Sunday throwbacks.
Angels catcher Kevan Smith: “I'm from Pittsburgh, so I think the freakin' Pirates uniforms are sweet. But that's just me."
Mariners outfielder Mallex Smith: “That black and gold is cold."
7-tie) A’s, 4 votes
Last season, Oakland brought back the lighter, Kelly green tops to pretty much universal “A”cclaim and ultimately earned a spot on this list as a result, as three of the four votes specifically signaled out that jersey, which is worn for Friday home games, as the reason behind the selection. The A’s wore that shade of green while winning three straight World Series from 1972-74 before darkening it up in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Royals outfielder Alex Gordon: “I like the lime green and the white pants.”
Mets first baseman Dominic Smith: "Those green ones are pretty sick. Those Oakland green ones just pop out. They're old-school. I like the socks with it. Those are my favorites besides, obviously, the Mets."
Teams receiving three votes:
Astros: "The old ones with Nolan Ryan and the big orange stripe across the chest." -- Royals first baseman Ryan O’Hearn
Royals: "The Royals when they do the gold letters are pretty cool." -- Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson
Marlins: "I just like anyone who gets to use turquoise. Their new uniforms are like some sick travel ball jerseys. I like them." -- Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger
Teams receiving two votes: Blue Jays, Padres, Phillies
Teams receiving one vote: Cubs, Orioles, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox
Team receiving one technically illegal vote from a player who picked his own team but whose response was too good not to print:
Brewers: “I think hands down [the best uniform] is our ‘Retro Fridays’ ones, with the ball and glove and the pinstripes. I know I'm not supposed to say our own, but I don't care. I love them. If we could wear that every day, I would love it. At first, I always just thought it was a baseball mitt. When I was in high school and I got my first job, I would go to Lids and buy a bunch of baseball hats. I was wearing the Brewers one out one day and someone told me it was an M and B.” -- Josh Hader
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.