A new line of “local market” hats for Major League Baseball teams landed like a foul ball in a plate of nachos. They put the Tampa Bay Rays in the wrong area code and referred to “Cigar City,” which is Tampa’s nickname (the Rays, of course, play in St. Petersburg). The chili on the Cincinnati cap looks like a bowl of dog food, and New York is represented by pizza and a boom box.
New Era, the official headwear company of the MLB, released the new line of hats on neweracap.com and listed them for $39.99. Within 12 hours of posting, after complaints, criticisms and snarky comments about the design elements for many of the teams, the line was taken off the company website Tuesday night.
Twitter, of course, had a lot to say. As Jack Baer of Yahoo Sports noted, “May 25 may go down as a special day on MLB Twitter. It was the day that the group successfully clowned a product line to death.”
As Marc Topkin, the Rays reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, noted, the caps didn’t go over well with some Tampa Bay locals.
The design ignored the location of the team, placing the Tampa-area 813 area code on the cap and not the 727 one used in St. Petersburg. Other items on the dark blue Rays cap include a palm tree, an orange, a flamingo, the old Devil Rays logo, the phrase “Tampa Bay Cigar City” and a state map with 1998 marking the team’s first year.
Some pointed out that other team caps have multiple area codes; the Rays’ cap could have helped bring the Tampa Bay area together by adding area codes. “It’s the TAMPA BAY Rays, not just Tampa (813). There’s also 727, 941, some 352 and coming soon 656. #NewEra did not do its homework. Very lazy,” wrote @BuzzardToombs.
The Rays weren’t the only ones with a wrong area code. The Cubs cap has a prominent 618 on it. The 618 area code is for southern Illinois, including Illinois’ side of suburban St. Louis — home of the Cardinals. Area codes noticeably missing are 847 and 815. And area codes on the Royals hat aren’t even in Missouri, but the state of Kansas.
The designers accommodated seven different area codes for the Twins and nine for the Braves, but the Pirates cap had no area code listed.
And somebody at New Era got historical details wrong, such as the fact that Washington, D.C., was founded in 1790, not 1776.
Then there are the emojis and badges on the hats. The Cubs have deep dish pizza on their hat, the Red Sox have what looks like a lumpy lobster roll, the Diamondbacks have a burrito and the Angels have a taco.
As one Twitter commenter noted, it looked like when Eddie Murphy’s character in Coming to America tried to look more American by putting every button, sticker and symbol of New York on his jacket.
The hats were so bizarre that the Kansas City Royals changed their Twitter bio to reflect their apparent interests, saying they are “located in Kansas City, MO. We love Kansas area codes, saxophones, the flag of Kansas City, pigs, Missouri and the 1985 World Series.”
Here’s the real question: Should we buy the worst baseball caps ever made?