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MLB’s Pantsgate

trevor story mlb pantsgate
This generation of players, which is more fashionable and feels liberated to speak their minds, were happy to chat about the whole pantsgate debacle with time-on-their-hands reporters. Photo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
John Ourand
February 26, 2024

I have to admit, I was originally dubious when this whole pantsgate debacle began to take shape. Sure, I’m hardly a fashion eminence, but I’ve been in the industry long enough to understand how an ostensibly small, but notably tangible, micro-drama can pick up speed during a down period in the season, like spring training. Were the pants see-through, with smaller logos and lettering, and Canal Street-ish fabric? They were, and players were happy to chat about them with time-on-their-hands reporters on the Grapefruit and Cactus League junket circuit. Especially this generation of players, which is more fashionable and feels liberated to speak their minds.

But what made pantsgate truly irresistible, of course, was the involvement of Michael Rubin, the billionaire man-about-town, “white party” aficionado, and C.E.O. of Fanatics, which is manufacturing the uniforms. (While Nike designs, develops, and markets the uniforms, Fanatics produces and delivers them.) Fanatics’ reputation for questionable fabric quality has trailed the company since its earliest days. Run a quick Google search and you’ll find Reddit groups and Twitter handles complaining about poor-quality merch they’ve bought from the company. As a result, Fanatics and Rubin have spent the past two weeks getting crushed on social media, and in various publications, for their role in this unforced mess.