The Major League Baseball postseason doesn’t represent just an average set of games. The postseason rises toward the World Series, the pinnacle point of every MLB season. And that never changes. The trophy remains the same. The allure of the World Series rings true. From a design perspective, MLB wants to embrace the magnitude.
“This is going to be historical and we take that into consideration,” says Anne Occi, MLB head of design services. “We try to create something that will look premium.”
What Premium Looks Like
For the 2018 postseason starting Oct. 2, that means the bold use of 3D metallic, joining navy and red in a pageant-filled design. “One of our key components now is anything that goes out has to be fantastic looking on TV,” Occi says. “As importantly, it has to translate to any electronic medium.”
The days of worrying about how a logo would translate into embroidery for on-uniform patches have given way to molded patches, allowing it to carry a metallic sheen. “The colors can have a pattern on it to catch the light in a different way,” Occi says.
Each year, the postseason design encompasses more than just the World Series. The word “postseason” figures prominently and each round comes with its own set of type needs. The “Wild Card” games kick things off before both the National and American leagues offer their divisional rounds, signified by ALDS and NLDS on the logo, and then the championship series for each league, the ALCS and NLCS. With so many marks in one set, Occi says the designs get designed together.
“We have a word like postseason, which is very, very long,” she says. “World Series could be stacked or a version that is on one line. Then down to acronyms like ALDS. You have to take into consideration it can be as wide as postseason and as short as an acronym.”
An IRL Footprint
With the quick-turnaround nature of MLB playoffs, the design team must take into account logos placement on the field. “The way the postseason is set up you may find yourself having to paint overnight and switch (the logo) out,” Occi says. So, to compensate, the ALDS and ALCS letters, for example, sit on top of each other in the on-field stencil. The World Series stencil fits atop all the other stencils. The education of how to apply the differing marks and where they fit in each unique ballpark has already started with clubs in contention for the postseason.
Some professional leagues have embraced generic postseason marks, making it difficult to distinguish them year to year. The MLB has gone the opposite direction. “Every year is unique,” Occi says. “We don’t go into the design saying it has to be different, it simply will be because the trends change.”
In 2017, for example, the logos featured navy and gold, all with the concept of looking premium. The 2018 version plays the metallic silver prominently on a slightly beveled type. Sticking with the trend of simple type, the lock up of the letters remains unassuming and the slight bevel illuminates the form. “It gives you a dimensional look without creating a shadow,” Occi says. Again, it all goes back to the idea of creating a premium design.
Atop the metallic type, Occi says the pageantry of baseball comes into play with the red and blue pennants, waving for added dimension. Occi has traditionally tied the American League to red and the National League to blue, so that remains true throughout the 2018 postseason logo family.
One area where the family of 2018 postseason marks will take on team-specific individuality comes in tickets. The master color scheme on the field and in the dugouts offer continuity from one club to another, but when it comes to the tickets, MLB created a color scheme available for club personalization. “That ticket could be a very important memento and having it look generic is not what we thought fans would want,” Occi says.
Even before the heyday of the 2018 postseason design starting, work to create the 2019 version has started to take shape. “I can say we are in the exploratory phase of possibly linking silver and gold together,” Occi says about the continued probe of color. Anything, really, to give the World Series and MLB postseason design at a premium.
Tim Newcomb covers sports design for HOW. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.