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Bryce Harper Silently Protests Poor Quality MLB Jerseys, Dons Old Threads in Savage Move

Published 04/14/2024, 7:30 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The Philadelphia Phillies’ star outfielder Bryce Harper has become a surprising fashion icon. However, not for the reasons you might think. As a recent game against the Pittsburgh Pirates went on, the eagle-eyed fans noticed a glaring difference in Harper’s jersey compared to the standard-issue gear that his teammates wore. That said, let’s not forget that the current jerseys are heavily criticized. Does this move by Harper have anything to do with a rebellion within the MLB? 

This act of defiance comes in the thick of growing complaints surrounding the new MLB jerseys. Fans have spoken up on social media, expressing their displeasure with the jerseys’ perceived shortcomings. Some common gripes include jerseys that are see-through, inappropriately stitched, and made from materials far inferior to those used in previous seasons. With the frustration reaching a tipping point, Harper may be the first high-profile player to actively a stand on this subject. 

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As reported by Sports Illustrated, Tim Kelly brought out a comparison. He indicated that as one looked at the last name on Harper’s jersey, one could see a difference from what players wear for games now. What stood out was that the name on the jerseys now is observably thinner than what’s on Harper’s back.

As of now, it looks as though Harper put on an older version of the jersey that he already owned. Per CBS Sports, the changes done are “smaller letters on the nameplate, a steeper arch on those nameplates, varying color shades, and a lower-than-normal MLB logo”. Other observations about the jersey include, “see-through, to lower quality materials and sewn poorly.” This has left fans and players scratching their heads.  

Fanatics founder Michael Rubin addressed this commotion at a recent MIT Sloan Sports Analytic conference. He said, “We’re purely doing exactly as we’ve been told, and we’ve been told we’re doing everything exactly right. And we’re getting the s— kicked out of us.” Well, beyond just the aesthetics, players have voiced issues about the new jerseys’ impact on performance. 

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What Does Harper’s Move Mean? A Fashion Statement or a Rallying Cry?

Whether Harper’s choice of jersey was a calculated protest or just a matter of personal preference is not known. However, it has clearly kindled a discussion about the quality of the new jerseys. More so, the importance of listening to both players and fans. On one hand, social media is abuzz with speculation. On the other, many fans applaud Harper’s potential act of rebellion. But is he urging other players to follow suit as well? 

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The pressure is now squarely on MLB to note these concerns. Will they do something about the issues and implement changes to improve the quality of jerseys?  Or are they going to remain steadfast in their current approach? Either way, one can say that to a certain degree the uniform is alienating of players and fans. The baseball world is waiting for the next course of action.  

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Written by:

Kanishka Prakash

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A pro MLB writer at EssentiallySports, Kanishka Prakash has two years of experience in content curation. Having multiple 'Editors Pick' under her name, Kanishka’s coverage focuses on the legendary Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and current superstars Shohei Ohtani and Bryce Harper. Not just that, she covers exclusives, her latest on a Chicago Cubs pitching coordinator, and also goes on to discuss trade agreements.
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Edited by:

Sampurna Pal