Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Red Sox to wear nicknames on back of jerseys

Rob Bradford
June 15, 2017 - 11:13 am

Major League Baseball is finally waking up.

According to Yahoo! Sports, MLB is planning a 'Players Weekend' from Aug. 25-27 in which players can wear nicknames on the back of their uniforms. During the three days, multi-colored cleats will also be allowed, along with a personalized patch celebrating somebody who was instrumental in their development.

(Red Sox president Sam Kennedy confirmed in an email to WEEI.com that the Red Sox will wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys even though the team typically doesn't wear names on the back of its home uniforms.)

When juxtaposing the event against other professional sports, this isn't ground-breaking. The NBA allowed for players nicknames for a stretch during the 2013-14 season, and the NFL loosened its footwear policy for a whole game. Then, of course, there was the XFL. But considering what MLB has represented, it's a pretty big leap.

The nicknames are the thing that of course will draw the most attention.

There is something appealing about having Dustin Pedroia bust out his short-lived moniker "The Muddy Chicken," or even having "Butter" but on the back of third base coach Brian Butterfield's jersey. Fun for a day, much like the Star Wars Night. But outside of those few days -- which, unfortunately for MLB, coincides with the weekend Floyd Mayweather is fighting Conor McGregor -- will it really matter?

But the true takeaway from this whole thing will be the opportunity to spice up the equipment.

As Jeff Passan points out in his piece:

"The items with minimal color restrictions include spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves and catcher’s masks. The colors, according to the memo, must avoid interfering with the game and an umpire’s ability to make a call. White gloves, wristbands and sleeves are prohibited."

Numerous players have been clamoring for MLB to loosen up its regulations on cleats. It was a topic that was even brought up in the most recent collective bargaining agreement negotiations, with player's association chief Tony Clark fully understanding the influence footwear has on the attention span of young people. But MLB didn't budge ... or did they?

Why there has been no formal rule changes when it comes to cleats, players have been getting a wink, wink, nudge, nudge when pushing the boundaries. One player said that the player's association has told them it's OK to no longer adhere to the previous rule that stated that cleats must exhibit at least 51 percent of the player's team's colors. (In the Red Sox case, that would have been black.) It hasn't been difficult to identify rule-breakers, yet an informal survey suggests no warning letters or fines have been sent out like in years past.

This is no accident. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And with the time of game going the wrong way this year, and other initiatives really not bringing down a shockingly old demographic, this would seemingly fit both forms of desperation.

Three days aren't going to fix things, but it can't hurt. And considering how much baseball has already taken two steps back with each step forward in recent years, it's a start.