As part of its unofficial campaign to introduce more Cop Vibes to every level of the game, Major League Baseball has been on a crusade against experimental cleat designs this year, and has already issued warnings of potential fines to a number of players. According to Yahoo Sports, though, the league and MLBPA have been in negotiations to relax the rules on footwear color and design.
Jeff Passan notes that any potential agreement is still a ways from being a done deal, but multiple officials believe that the league should return to halcyon days of Post-Players Weekend 2017, when the league loosened up a bit on what players could wear. At the very least, it’s expected that rules on shoe color and style will be relaxed. For some reason, commissioner Rob Manfred has taken a break from public hand-wringing about modernizing the game to limit cool uniform variations this season.
It all came to a head of sorts when Ben Zobrist of the Cubs—ultra-devout 37-year-old Ben Zobrist, currently in his 13th big league season—posted a lengthy Instagram screed about how the league had warned him for wearing plain black cleats to honor the uniforms of old. Since those cleats fell outside of the 51 percent of the shoe that the league requires to be the Cubs’ “designated primary shoe color,” Zobrist ran the risk of getting fined for something he’d been doing for the past two seasons. Mike Clevinger and Jacob Junis were also notified for cleat violations earlier this year, and there’s also what is perhaps the worst case of tightening the rules—the league’s attempt to ban Cubs catcher Willson Contreras’ Venezuela armband. The eased regulations may not extend that far, but the league would do well to let players do damn near whatever they choose. Call it modernizing the game or chilling out about stuff that doesn’t matter or whatever else you like, but please.