Czerwonka: Fanatics is ruining MLB jerseys

MLB jerseys graphic. - Multimedia Editor / Drew Peltzman

Spring is just right around the corner, the MLB season is almost here, and fans get to see players with new teams and jerseys.

Before the actual season starts, all 30 teams have Spring Training. Most would think that the top stories would include Shohei Ohtani with his new look, alongside Yashinobu Yamamoto, who the Dodgers also acquired this offseason. While it is, there seems to be another topic that has been the talk of Spring Training – the new MLB jerseys that Fanatics has manufactured.

Fanatics has exclusive licensing deals with the major four leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) in North America, along with other leagues that they produce merchandise for. Over the past couple of years now, as Fanatics has become bigger and a more well-known brand, the hate for them has grown.

There have been thousands of complaints about merchandise such as their shirts, hats, and especially jerseys which have been questioned numerous times. Things like wrong names and numbers, wrong team colors, and horrible fabric that can fall apart after one wash have been some of the biggest complaints against Fanatics recently. There was even a case of an Eagles fan receiving a Jalen Hurts shirt from Fanatics, in which the number was crooked. 

The prices of these jerseys are absolutely ridiculous. Usually, when it comes to jerseys, there are two types a person can buy. One is the more “price-friendly” jersey, which is $175 after the change, which is $40 more than last year. The other jersey is the way more expensive one, which is more “authentic” to what the players wear on the field. The price for those is a whopping $395 and $430 for a custom jersey. Honestly, at this point, it’s probably better if fans spend it on a fake.

So yes, Fanatics has certainly built up an infamous reputation. 

They have even dipped their toe into other aspects of sports memorabilia, such as buying out Topps, probably the biggest manufacturer of cards in the world. Fanatics also acquired Mitchell and Ness, which is famous for making throwback jerseys.

Even though these are still Nike jerseys, Fanatics have still been getting a bulk of the hate. Many have said the jersey looks cheap and the fabric is flimsy. The letters on the back are smaller and now curved, which will look certainly interesting on players such as Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Just watching the Spring Training highlights, some of the names were hard to even read at times. Plus, the logos on the jersey, like the Phillies, aren’t even stitched directly on the jersey. 

The logic behind the jersey switch was to make them lighter and more breathable for the players. It was said that Nike tested these jerseys last season in the 2023 All-Star game, and the reception was genuinely positive.

But it seems as if the reception has completely flipped, with some MLB players even stating the jersey looks like a knock-off. 

It’s not just the jerseys that almost everyone is having an issue with either. Recently, the pants that the players wear have also become an issue. In a photo shoot that Ohtani did, some may think the discussion is about how he looks in his new Dodger blue and white, but no. Instead, it’s about how you can see right through his pants.

Fans can only hope that this list of issues can be fixed eventually. It can be pretty easy to notice these changes most of the time, especially when you’re supporting a team.

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