The Mets introduced black to their uniform color scheme in the late 1990s, after decades of sticking with the "orange and blue" mentioned in "Meet The Mets". Black jerseys and hats have featured prominently in the Mets' uniform rotation ever since. Generally speaking, fans have either heatedly loathed the black jerseys (see: The Mets Police) or expressed neutral-to-slightly-positive sentiments about them. Effusive praise is rare. I'm in the neutral category but understand the case for canning the black -- a fad from the 1990s shouldn't replace the franchise's roots. White jerseys with blue pinstripes and orange coloring are as synonymous with the Mets as Tom Seaver and Wally Backman.
For the Mets public relations director sick of hearing complaints, I have some tepid defenses for the black jerseys. Tepid, as the defenses are either flawed or somewhat silly. And because the topic is something about which I just cannot get heated.
1. The black conjures memories of Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter and the late 1990s/early 2000s teams, one of the more memorable groups in Mets history. Although ringless, that crew boasted multiple future Hall of Famers, several of the best homegrown Mets ever, enough memorable moments to fill a book and a colorful manager to lead them. What color jersey was Robin Ventura wearing as he smashed the Grand Slam Single? How about Piazza when he homered to cap the 10-run eighth inning on Fireworks Night to beat the Braves? When I picture Piazza-the-Met, he's wearing a black jersey.
The counter-argument is that this doesn't address the legitimacy of the black jerseys. It merely asserts that the black's association with something awesome transfers that awesomeness. That's an admittedly strong point, to which I respond: "The Best Infield Ever wore black jerseys, your argument is invalid".
2. The t-shirt seems to be the most common choice of apparel for a Met fan attending a game. Specifically, the player name and number t-shirt. They are available in several different colors -- blue, orange, white, grey, black, etc. Of them all, the black shirts mask a sweat outbreak best. The accumulation of perspiration on the clothing of a casual male or female is unsightly and often comical, for whatever reasons. When it's 93 degrees in July at Citi Field, black helps one look like less of a sweaty mess. Grey is the worst at this; blue is also ineffective; white is decent but has a cheap, homemade look; orange is up to the task but not quite as effective as black. Throw on a black Jose Reyes #7 t-shirt and you can sweat all day in the upper deck without anyone having a clue.
3. The Mets were created after the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants departed for California in 1957. Dodger blue and Giants orange combined to form the original Mets colors in 1962. Fast forward to present day, where the official colors are blue, white, orange, and black. Maybe it's an ex post facto stretch, but that's blue and white to represent the Dodgers, and orange and black to represent the Giants. The goal of preserving the memory of New York's old National League is met, and more thoroughly than originally planned.
4. Black clothing is badass:
A problem: one could make this case for any color. Yellow has The Bride. Purple has The Joker. So this is basically an excuse to reference some of my favorite fictional characters, borne out of a giddy excitement for the transition from the worst month, February, to arguably the best month, March.
February means the end of football. The new movies are terrible. Work is at its most stressful level, for me at least. The weather is unbearable (snow is less fun post-college). The black jerseys suggest George Clooney's Batman.
March is a turnaround point. The celebration of St. Patrick's Day previews the barbecues of summer. Treadmills are traded for pavement. March Madness commences, providing fans with the greatest postseason event in all of sports. The stress level at work drops sharply. Most importantly, live baseball games are a thing. Manufactured stories about Ollie and Luis failing to report to camp early are forgotten. The banal "Terry Collins Loves Daniel Murphy's Work Ethic" type reports fade into nothingness, as they should. Real games are played, in which stuff actually worth discussing happens. The black jerseys evoke Christian Bale's Batman.
March means the anticipation of Opening Day and 162 games of Mets baseball. That anticipation is often superior to the actual event. Think the days leading up to Christmas morning as a kid. The last few seasons of Mets baseball have unfortunately failed to live up to the optimistic hope of March. But it's that time of year again, a time to get happy and watch major league players do their thing in sparsely-filled Florida ballparks.
To recap: March is awesome and the black jerseys aren't the devil. But if you think they are, I won't protest.