Opinions

Ranking the 2021 MLB Nike City Connect Jerseys

Throughout the 2021 season, Nike released seven new uniforms as part of their new MLB City Connect Series. The goal of this project by Nike was to create uniform designs that “explore a franchise’s connection to its city and its fanbase… [while also] balancing that sanctity and ingenuity in a club’s identity.”

That’s a lot of corporate-speak that basically means Nike wanted to create fresh-looking uniforms without making them too bizarre to the point of pissing off the individual team’s fanbase. In this piece, I’ll simply be discussing the jerseys of these uniforms and how they look independent of the entire on-field attire that the players wore this season. Since Nike’s goal is to connect the fanbases to these designs, I’ll discuss which jerseys would be the best for fans to wear to a bar, a game, or on a couch with friends. If you want to see a ranking of how the entire uniforms look on athletes on the field, I recommend Phil Hecken’s article on Uni Watch’s website. Anyway, let’s get right into the rankings.

1. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox absolutely nailed their design for the City Connect Jersey. Unlike some of the other jerseys on this list, this one doesn’t feel like a gimmicky design but it looks like an actual alternate jersey option that could be in the normal uniform rotation throughout the season. The gothic “Southside” script is a great nod to the ballclub’s community without going over the top. If for some reason, Nike and MLB decide to scrap the majority of their City Connect designs a few years down the road, this one should definitely remain in the fold. Fans of the White Sox shouldn’t feel any hesitation when thinking about whether or not to grab a Tim Anderson or Lucas Giolito City Connect style jersey. This design is clean!

2. Miami Marlins

The colors on this jersey are what makes it pop and sizzle. The contrasting white Miami script with a blue drop shadow and the red base color of the jersey make for a really cool design that should be attractive to anyone who is a fan of the Marlins and the Miami Heat Vice jerseys. I wouldn’t be shocked to see these jerseys dominate the Miami bar scene and be a hit among the college crowd not only in Miami but across the country. The jersey idea is a little gimmicky, but unlike other jerseys down the list, the design is just nice.

3. Boston Red Sox

This was the first of the seven jerseys to be unveiled as part of Nike’s new series of uniforms and at the time it felt like a radical introduction to the series. For a ballclub whose primary colors are red, white, and navy blue, seeing such bright yellow and baby blue on a Red Sox jersey is a shock to the senses. However, as time went on and other jerseys were unveiled, the initial shock wore off. Yes, this jersey is gimmicky and since its design is a nod to Patriots’ day and the Boston Marathon, I think it should probably only be worn for a series around that holiday. While I think it’s a neat and colorful design that sports fans would look good in, this initially overwhelmingly yellow jersey doesn’t seem to have any connection to the Red Sox except in geography only.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

I am a fan of this jersey on the field. I think that playing in the Sonoran desert while donning a sand-colored jersey with snake and Arizona iconography is a good look for the Diamondbacks. Similar to the Red Sox, the Diamondbacks use a color that isn’t usually in their set, however, unlike the Red Sox, these colors don’t pop as much. While I like this jersey way more in an actual professional baseball setting than the Red Sox jersey, I don’t know if it is as appealing to the casual fan in a non-ballpark setting.

5. Chicago Cubs

This jersey is just ok. It isn’t offensive to the eyes and it looks decent on the players on the field. It just kind of looks bland. I understand that Wrigleyville is a neighborhood in Chicago, but when I look at the type on the front of the jersey, the “Ville” just seems cheesy, like it’s a branding knock-off of Margaritaville. However, the one thing about this jersey that I really enjoy and think is really unique is the left sleeve patch. It is influenced by Chicago iconographies like transit tokens and the city’s flag. Overall, this jersey gets a “meh” from me. I could see some fans getting this jersey, but would any Cubs fan choose this jersey over the iconic home pinstripes or away grey jerseys?

6. Los Angeles Dodgers

This jersey is bland, which could have been a good thing as a basic blue alternate jersey would have added nicely to the Dodgers iconic brand. Bland can be okay from time to time, but two design choices turn this jersey from a fine alternate jersey to a near bottom-of-the-barrel option. First, the black graffiti splotch design on the sleeves feels forced and just makes the jersey look dirty. It’s really puzzling why designers thought this would look good. If I didn’t know about this jersey and saw someone on the street wearing it, I would wonder if the person just finished painting a house and got paint on their sleeves. The second thing that is off about this jersey is the “Los Dodgers” type on the front. Nike really missed a big opportunity to put “Los Doyers” or they could have simply kept it safe and simple with “Dodgers”. It feels like the designers were too afraid to go either way and sadly ended up with the least appealing option.

7. San Francisco Giants

When Nike was announced to be the new uniform provider for MLB starting in the 2020 season, jersey designs like this were what fans across the country feared. Almost everything about this jersey is not just poorly thought out, but also offensive to the eyes. Nike’s schtick with this design was that San Francisco is a city that emerges from the fog. That premise led to the orange to white gradient fading into the base white jersey on different aspects on this jersey, including the large “G” on the left chest. In addition to the large chest letter fading into white, the Golden Gate Bridge on the sleeves, one of the only redeeming design aspects of the jersey, also fades into white. These aspects of the jersey just look faded on the players during the game as well. If Nike’s goal for this series of uniforms was to highlight the connection between the teams and its city/community, then why would they highlight an aspect of the weather that hides San Francisco’s beauty? The concept and the execution of this jersey just don’t make sense. If I was a fan of the Giants considering buying a jersey, this would be the last design I would choose.

Jonathan Hoffman

Jonathan Hoffman is a Political Science and Creative Writing double major also minoring in Public Policy at the University of Redlands. He's a lifelong Dodgers fan from Los Angeles who grew up in a family full of Phillies fans. Follow on twitter @JHoff100 if you also obsess over Clayton Kershaw and sports uniforms.

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