There are colors everywhere. Our quite limited fragment of the electromagnetic spectrum, visible light, still yields an extraordinary amount of variation in colors. The subtle difference from seafoam to aqua is one such example (though to lots of men both are merely ‘green’), and there are an almost infinite amount of variations in that color family, let alone the visible spectrum. Technically, black and white are both colors as well, as they represent the reflection of no colors or all colors. And yet, many colors aren’t used, supplanted by more neutral colors that illicit less of a reaction.
Here’s an exercise. Think of a business, sports team, product, etc. when you see these colors:
For red, blue, and black, you probably thought of any variety of things, from Coca-Cola to Pepsi to the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the Chicago White Sox. However, for yellow, you probably thought of Sprint, and for pink, you probably thought of T-Mobile. These companies feature those two underused colors prominently. In a world where there are many colors, using them well can give you a big boost on the competition, or at least differentiate yourself from others.
It is this reason why I find Major League Baseball to be one of the most perplexing entities in sports. This is not just because baseball people are by far the most stubborn when it comes to everything in sports these days (player safety, advanced statistics, tradition vs. innovation, replay), but because baseball teams are the most unoriginal bunch when it comes to uniforms.
Don’t believe me?
These teams in baseball feature navy blue as their primary color: Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres. Total: 10
These teams in baseball feature a lighter, royal-type blue as their primary color: Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets. Total: 5
These teams in baseball feature red as their primary color: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals. Total: 8
In Major League Baseball, 23 out of 30 teams feature red or blue as their primary color. Seven of those teams include both red and blue. Of the seven remaining teams, two feature black as the primary color, two feature orange as the primary color, and there is one team each featuring yellow, green, and purple. The Oakland A’s are the most adventurous team in the whole league, as they are the only team that features two different colors that are not red, blue, or black. Amazing.
For reference, 15 teams in the NFL, less than half of the 32 teams, feature red or blue as their primary color. The NFL also sports (no pun intended) (I lied, pun intended) a wider variety of colors, including brown, gold, silver, pewter, aqua, and maroon, as well as a more creative approach to using red and blue.
Does this mean that baseball is out of touch? Not necessarily, or at least not in that aspect. But in a world where colors and branding are extremely important, most of baseball’s teams are unwilling to change. I suppose once you have over a century of tradition under your belt you tend to see things differently, but come on, guys, the navy blue is getting really boring.