See-Through Baseball Pants Have Fans, and Brands, Pointing Fingers

At the end of this month, Major League Baseball will officially commence its 2024 season, and with spring training already in full swing, the chatter among hard-core fans and casual observers has been unusually spirited. In theory, that would be great for M.L.B. as it seeks to expand its reach amid a prolonged decline in the sport’s popularity and cultural cachet that was offset some with a series of popular rule changes last year.

Unfortunately, the conversation has not been about the New York Yankees trading for Juan Soto or the Los Angeles Dodgers signing Shohei Ohtani. Instead, people cannot stop talking about the league’s new uniforms, specifically the pants, which leave little to the imagination. The issue of fabric so sheer it seemed transparent cropped up in late February when players began having their photos taken at spring training, which gave fans — and some players — their first glimpse of M.L.B.’s new uniforms, which were designed by Nike and produced by the sports memorabilia behemoth Fanatics.

“Fanatics is going to hell,” an X user said in reference to a particularly explicit photo of a San Diego Padres player bending over on the field.

The transparency of the pants quickly became an online sensation.

“Buying my wife Fanatics baseball pants instead of lingerie,” read an X post with more than 33,000 likes. “Whenever I’m nervous public speaking I just pretend people in the audience are wearing Fanatics baseball pants,” another person joked.

The problems with M.L.B.’s new uniforms extend beyond the lewd pants. The league signed a 10-year, $1 billion deal with Nike and Fanatics for the design and manufacture of its uniforms in 2020, but it was only this year that the uniforms underwent a considerable redesign, with less intricate details and revamped fabric.

“We worked closely with players, teams and the league to create the most advanced uniforms in the history of M.L.B., which are lighter and more flexible,” Nike saidin a statement to The New York Times. “We will continue to work with M.L.B., the players and our manufacturing partner to address player uniforms.”

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