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Cubs star Zobrist fires back after MLB warns him about his cleats

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Major League Baseball sent a letter to Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist warning him to cease and desist wearing … black cleats?

Apparently, Zobrist’s cleats were the wrong color, which is in violation of an MLB rule.

“This letter serves as an official warning that you have violated Major League Baseball’s Uniform Regulations (Attachment 19 to the Basic Agreement). Specifically, you violated Section G(1), which requires that at least 51% of the exterior of each player’s shoes be the Club’s designated primary shoe color. During your Club’s May 2, 2018 game, you were observed wearing shoes that were not at least 51% blue, the color designated by your Club for use with your uniforms,” the letter stated, according to an image posted on Zobrist’s Instagram account.

“We understand that some players prefer more flexibility in the colors of their shoes, but the current rules were collectively bargained with the Players Association and we must enforce the rules as written in fairness to all players and Clubs in the same manner the Players Association enforces rules that limit Club conduct. However, the Commissioner’s Office remains willing to negotiate with the Players Association on revisions to the footwear provision of the Basic Agreement to provide more flexibility to players,” the letter said.

The league concluded that Zobrist will be subject to further discipline, including a fine, if he continues to wear cleats that don’t meet the requirements.

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Well, Zobrist is not taking this reprimand by the MLB’s fashion police sitting down.

He issued a fiery response Saturday on Instagram that pointed out why he chooses to wear all black cleats.

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

“Dear @mlb, I still like you but this is ridiculous. 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,” Zobrist wrote.

“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,” Zobrist continued.

“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.”

Zobrist was not the only player to receive a warning this week. Indians hurler Mike Clevinger also got a letter from the MLB  for his customized cleats, which feature pink patterns.

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Some contend that this recent crackdown on footwear might be about more than colors.

“If you’re unaware, the league and the Players Association have gone through some significant disagreements since the last CBA was put into place, so much so that potential labor stoppages have been teased as recently as this past Spring Training, and an impending labor battle seems somewhat inevitable,” wrote Bleacher Nation’s Michael Cerami.

“So when I see statements that say things like, Hey, we (MLB) totally don’t mind if you wear your shoes like that, but it’s *your* association that made the rules. So blame them! We’re willing to talk about it!’ I see it as overtly contentious.

“The answer, as I implied, seems to revolve around sewing discord in the union, gaining leverage from the instability, urging players back to the table to negotiate, etc… You can assume that MLB would ask for something in exchange for a shoe-policy change (a policy that doesn’t need to exist in the first place if you want to let the players show a LITTLE individuality out there.”

One wonders when the next shoe will drop.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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