Fanatics founder Michael Rubin says company unfairly blamed for new MLB uniforms

hiladelphia Phillies players wait to have their photo taken during a baseball spring training photo day. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

BOSTON — Fanatics founder Michael Rubin says his company is being unfairly blamed for new Major League Baseball uniforms that have see-through pants and other fit and design problems.

“This is a little bit of a difficult position,” he said on Friday at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. “We’re purely doing exactly as we’ve been told, and we’ve been told we’re doing everything exactly right. And we’re getting the s— kicked out of us. So that’s not fun.”

Since reporting to spring training this month, some players have complained about the fit of new uniforms. The white pants worn by some teams are also see-through enough to clearly show tucked-in jersey tops.

“I know everyone hates them,” Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said. “We all liked what we had. We understand business, but I think everyone wanted to keep it the same way, for the most part, with some tweaks here or there.”

Rubin said uniforms were made to the specifications set by MLB and Nike. Fanatics has been making the baseball uniform since 2017, he said; Fanatics bought the company that has been making the uniforms since 2005, so there has been no real change in the manufacturer in almost two decades.

Rubin said Nike made changes “for all the right reasons” after getting feedback from players who wanted material more breathable and stretchable.

“Nike designs everything. Hands us a spec and says, ‘Make this,’” he said. “We have made everything exactly to the spec. And Nike and baseball would say, ‘Yes, you’ve done everything we’ve asked you do to.’”

Rubin said part of the problem is players needing to get used to the changes, saying a similar issue dissipated after NFL and NBA uniforms changed. But in the future he said he would try to involve more people in the decisions.

“They got certain players on board, not all players on board. When you change something so old and so nostalgic you need everybody to be on board with it,” Rubin said. “I believe Nike will be proved right.”

MLB did not respond to a request for comment.

Players’ association head Tony Clark said Thursday his members had voiced their objections.

“The commentary that’s being offered suggests that the powers that be are paying attention to the concerns that are there and are engaging how best to address them moving forward,” Clark said.

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