I do not play for the Mets, nor am I affiliated with Major League Baseball in any way. In spite of that, I think I’ve come up with something quite interesting ... and it may behoove you to listen.
This is professional baseball player Francisco Lindor wearing eye black, a grease-like substance intended to reduce sun glare, used by athletes. It also comes in sticker form. Whether it actually achieves its intended purpose, or merely serves as an intimidatingly cute face decoration, is debatable, and there have been several studies dedicated to the debate. Most returned inconclusive. One exception is a 2003 Yale study, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, which determined that use of the grease slightly improves contrast sensitivity. The stickers, which were also studied, were useless.
Players will sometimes use eye black to display messages — memorable cases being Tim Tebow’s Bible verses and Reggie Bush’s hometown area code — but most use it as a sort of “war paint.” Bryce Harper, currently of the Philadelphia Phillies, explains two of his commonly used intimidating eye black styles in this video:
Thank you, Bryce.
But let’s take another look at eye black in its standard form.
Does it remind you of anything? Look at it again.
Do you see it?
Yes, you’ve got it now. It looks just like ...
Mr. Met’s eyebrows. Yes, Mr. Met — the greatest mascot in sports. (If you’re wondering whether I’ve forgotten about Gritty, let me say this: Gritty was created for the internet and the internet lapped him up like the bottomless pit of gullible buffoons it is. He is an embarrassment, as are you.) (The Philly Phanatic, however, is the second-greatest mascot.) The Mets also happen to be my favorite baseball team. My unconditional love for them, together with this revelation about Mr. Met’s eyebrows, has caused an idea within me, sent to my brain as if from the divine. I’m ready to share it with you now.
The Mets should do their eye black like the rest of Mr. Met’s face, too.
The design would be at once a fitting tribute to the Mets’ leader, and a startling distraction to whichever team had the misfortune of competing against them. Oh my god, what is going on with the Mets … you can imagine the other team saying to each other in the dugout. What is on their faces, oh god … is that … no, they wouldn’t … they could never … no … not … this can’t be true … they would never be so bold as to paint eye black on their faces in … the complete style of Mr. Met’s face?
Now that is something. How intimidating could eye black be at this point, really, when styled the traditional way? We see it every game. It’s not surprising, or bold. Even the more “daring” styles are well worn. Mr. Met eye black, on the other hand, is jarring. It’s exciting and odd. It’s distracting and somewhat frightening. And it maintains whatever slight benefits come with placing eye black under one’s eyes. The opposing team would be made dizzy by the decision, immediately unable to compete to the full extent of their abilities. The Mets would have an upper hand. The Mets would score a double, a triple! The Mets would win the World Series.
(Now, I realize the dangerous thing about posting this tip to the internet is that a non-Mets team could take the idea for themselves. And I think we would all agree that the Mr. Mets eye black technique would be even more effective when employed against the Mets. We’ll just have to hope that other teams will be cool about this. This is not for you. This is exclusively an idea for the Mets. Please close this tab.)
The more annoying among you are likely wondering whether this sort of thing would even be allowed. That wouldn’t even be allowed, you’re thinking. Baseball is a delicate gentleman’s game, there are rules. This exceedingly young woman clearly doesn’t even understand the basic tenets of America’s hallowed pastime, let alone its intricacies related to uniform regulation. Wah, wah. God you’re so fucking annoying. I did need to look into it, though.
I immediately hit what appeared to be a snag. In Major League Baseball’s official rulebook, rule 3.03(g) states: “No part of the uniform shall include a pattern that imitates or suggests the shape of a baseball.”
Yes, it just so happens that Mr. Met’s head — and I don’t think he would mind me saying this — is not only the shape of a baseball, but is in fact a baseball itself. I commend the rulebook makers for their foresight here, however if they wanted to block my idea they should have been more careful in their wording. Mr. Met’s head, because it is a baseball, is the shape of a baseball. A human’s head, however, is not the shape of a baseball. Correct? Mr. Met’s features are not suggestive of a baseball’s shape when removed from the baseball shape itself. Even the stitching, when placed on a human head, doesn’t suggest a baseball shape; it merely suggests stitching. And the eyes and mouth, etc.? Those aren’t usually on a baseball at all.
It seems like we’re in the clear so far.
While attempting to receive official confirmation from Major League Baseball that my idea was “fair play,” it occurred to me that if there were rules and regulations related to eye black, there would likely be past instances of violations against them. I reached out to the researchers at the Baseball Hall of Fame to see if they could find an instance of a player being penalized for his eye black, or having to adjust it mid-game, and they could find only one: in 2012 Toronto Blue Jays’ player Yunel Escobar was fined after writing a homophobic epithet on his eye black sticker. Otherwise, they couldn’t find an instance of eye black prompting an issue on the field.
Finally, a source within Major League Baseball who agreed to speak on background verified what I suspected was the case based on rule 3.03(c): “No player whose uniform does not conform to that of his teammates shall be permitted to participate in a game.” Eye black is not uniform among players, and therefore must exist outside of uniform regulation. Mustn't it?
Yes, said my source. Eye black does not fall under uniform regulation, and in fact there are, in general, no rules against how a player chooses to wear it; the only guidelines are that it must not include hate speech, foul language, or undue commercialization (rule 3.09 in the rulebook). And my source confirmed it: there have been no instances of a player having to adjust his eye black due to it merely being a distraction to the other team.
Baseball is a game of cheating until you’re caught, or until the rules are changed. Like the stickiness at the center of this summer’s sticky pitcher drama, Mr. Met eye black will likely only be allowed until Major League Baseball decides it has to end. I don’t know how many games that will be. So my final suggestion to the Mets is that they keep this idea in their pocket for a particularly important game. Talk of it only in hushed tones; paint their faces as Mr. Met at night in anticipation, but then wash it off before anyone can see. I trust they will know when the time has come to unleash it.