As a runner, I’ve become hooked on so-called “wicking” fabrics like Coolmax and Nike’s Dri-Fit. The stuff uses capillary action to draw moisture away from the skin and toward the outside of the garment where it can harmlessly evaporate, leaving one cooler, drier and less chafed. And if you’ve ever gone running in 90 degree weather while wearing 100% cotton, you know what a big, bloody problem chafing can be (I’ll spare you the gory details).
But et tu baseball?
As USA Today reports, Major League Baseball has announced that beginning opening day this year, players will be tossing aside their wool caps for a newer high-tech, moisture-wicking polyester blend lid that, in theory at least, will keep players drier and more comfortable on the field.
Drier and more comfortable? Baseball? Even though baseball players ditched their flannel uniforms some time back, I figured the wool cap would be the last holdout, an itchy nod to players from the past who suffered and sweated through the long, blistering days of summers gone by. Baseball and wool, peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin–there are some sacred combinations, I thought, that you just don’t mess with.
After all, baseball players are the poster boys for “old school”–the more sweat and chafing the better. In fact, mix a little sweat in with that tobacco juice, bottle ‘er up, and you can throw out all those fancy-schmancy, metabolite-replacing energy drinks. Who needs Gatorade when players can slosh a little of that tasty concoction around in their mouths while tracking down a long fly ball?
I can just hear some diehard, Jimmy Duganesque baseball purist out there protesting: “There’s no wicking in baseball!” First the NBA ditches leather (yeah, like that was a great idea), now this. What’s next, synthetic catcher’s mitts and massages in the dugout?
Forget the ‘roids. Are there any baseball purists out there who are itching, so to speak, to weigh in on this latest threat to the integrity of the game?
Ty Cobb must be scratching his head and rolling over in his grave.