A Sports Writer’s Guide to Buying a Team Jersey

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1. The Current Star

This is the centerpiece of the team, the undisputed guy, the future Hall of Famer (or at least the future Hall of Nearly Greater) who sets the standard for your team of choice. This would be Derek Jeter or David Ortiz if Yankee or Red Sox jerseys were allowed, but since they aren’t, this is Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, Joe Mauer.

The Current Star is a safe way to navigate the treacherous waters of jersey purchasing; it clearly states your interest in your team in a non-controversial, serious, and slightly bland way. What’s more, the shelf life of this jersey is very long. In 20 years you’re not going to be made fun of for wearing a Miguel Cabrera jersey, and nobody is going to say, “Joe Mauer? That dude ate human babies!” because Joe Mauer does not eat human babies. He’s too good at baseball and doesn’t have the time.

Statement Made: I like this team and/or player!

2. The Hall of Famer

This is a great player from the team’s past. This would be Babe Ruth or Ted Williams if Yankee or Red Sox jerseys were allowed, which again, they are not. This is a completely safe choice. The player’s career is already over, so there’s no chance taken on his production going off a cliff, his getting traded, or worst of all, choosing to sign with another team as a free agent. You can wear this jersey from the time you buy it until you die. You can wear it in your casket.

The downside here is that it doesn’t speak to your love of the current team as much as the franchise in general. This can be desirable if your team is, to put it gently, awful — for example, Cubs fans, you might be better off with an Ernie Banks jersey than trying to force it with a Starlin Castro. But should the Cubs actually win some games in the near future, you’re probably going to end up buying a Kris Bryant jersey. So maybe just suck it up and buy one now — then you can pull the rookie-number-thing at the sports bar in later years.

Statement Made: I like this team and/or player and I have an appreciation for history, but I still listen to music on my 8-track player while sitting on the plastic cover of my reclining chair because I am old.

3. The Indie Hero

This is the part-time player whom all the hardcore fans love. Buying his jersey is a huge statement in support of the current team. It says, “I know this team well. I don’t need Joe Star’s jersey, that’s too obvious — because I not only know Honker Buttsky is a backup second baseman, I know he’s a fan favorite and HONKER! WHOOO!” Every time you wear it to a game people are going to compliment you on it and smile and give you thumbs up and high-five you in beer lines. “Buttsky? Heck yeah!” And if old Honker ever does get a hit with men on base, everyone around you is gonna flip the heck out.

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It’ll be great for about four months. Then Honker is going to get cut or traded for a stuffed crust pizza or sent back to Triple-A, and you’ll be left with a $300 jersey with “Buttsky” on it, the name of a player who kinda sucks and isn’t on your team anymore. It will be awesome while it lasts, though.

Statement Made: I’m awesome and/or tremendously sad!

4. The Ironic Goat

This is basically picking the worst moment of your bitterest rival and then putting it on a jersey. This is a Yankees fan in an Aaron Boone jersey, or a Bill Buckner jersey. This is a Cardinals fan in a Bartman jersey. This is mean and nasty and awful, but it wears forever because nobody ever forgets the worst moment in their team’s history. You’ll be hated for wearing it by fans of your rival, but whatever, they’re stupid and smelly and you hate them anyway. On the plus side, this one lasts for as long as you have the guts to wear it.

Statement Made: Hey, screw you, buddy!

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