Zobrist fires back at MLB over cleat mandate


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Ben Zobrist Photo
Pos: 2B   Height: 6-3   Weight: 210   Hometown: Eureka, IL (Dallas Baptist HS)  
Years Played: 2016 - 2018

CHICAGO — Over the years, Major League Baseball has developed a reputation as a stubborn, unrelenting organization that is unwilling to evolve for the good of baseball (hence its recent decrease in popularity with the American youth).

Current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has helped to slightly curtail that reputation, as he has been a constant proponent of change and progression since taking the helm. However, the MLB front office is still good for the occasional curmudgeonly act, and its latest victim is Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs.

Paying homage to the baseball stars of yore, Zobrist has donned old-school black cleats with the vintage tongue flaps off and on for the past few seasons. Of course, back in the day, it was much cheaper and simpler to manufacture multi-colored variations of cotton clothing than leather shoes. Therefore, plain black cleats were a fixture among baseball players, regardless of their respective uniform color schemes.

Choosing to honor that classic trend, Zobrist has opted to wear black flapped cleats during day games for the past couple of seasons, which is fitting, since MLB games were once played exclusively during the daytime.

Even going so far as to have customized cleats made for him by New Balance (including throwback PF Flyers, a brand currently owned by New Balance), Zobrist is clearly passionate about his symbolic act.

But, passion aside, the MLB randomly decided this week to crush Zobrist's heart-warming display of appreciation for the former players who paved the way for him in his baseball career.

Coming down with an iron fist, Major League Baseball sent Zobrist an official notice of warning regarding his violation of the player dress code, threatening to discipline him if he chooses to carry on with the practice of wearing the old-school cleats that do not match the Cubs' color scheme.

Zobrist, who is normally very mild-mannered, was clearly peeved by the draconian mandate from the powers that be in the MLB front office, going so far as to create an Instagram post explaining the situation. Essentially asking Major League Baseball to lighten up, Zobrist received an abundance of positive feedback and support from his followers.

Dear @mlb, I still like you but this is rediculous. For the last two years, I have worn black spikes exclusively at Wrigley Field for Day games to pay homage to the history of our great game, and now I am being told I will be fined and disciplined if I continue to wear them. When I was a kid, I was inspired by highlights of the greats such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial in the 1950s-60s and was captured by the old uniforms and all black cleats with flaps. @newbalancebaseball made a kid’s dream come true by making some all black spikes with the special tongue as well as the “Benny the Jet” @pf_flyers cleats. I am curious as to why @mlb is spending time and money enforcing this now when they haven’t done it previously in the last year and beyond. I have heard nothing but compliments from fans that enjoy the “old school” look. Maybe there is some kid out there that will be inspired to look more into the history of the game by the “flexibility” that I prefer in the color of my shoes. Sincerely, Ben Zobrist

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on


In recent years, wardrobe violations have been at the center of controversies in several different sports, and, most often, it has been understandable as to why the league office issued a mandate concerning the dress-code infraction in question.

But if Major League Baseball forces Zobrist to abandon a practice that honors baseball's pastime, that will be a crying shame, especially considering that he had already been wearing throwback cleats for a few seasons before receiving pushback.

The jury is still out as to whether or not Zobrist's public plea for MLB to let his fashion statement slide will prove effective. Perhaps, the famously stringest Major League Baseball authoritarians will come to their senses on this one and allow Zobrist to have some creative freedom.

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