Cubs fans have low expectations for the season that begins today with a road game against the Pirates, but Chicago's casual watchers can look forward to visually striking home stands. To celebrate Wrigley Field's centennial the team will wear nine throwback uniforms throughout the year. The program is in keeping with the league ramping up the emphasis placed on history – the Red Sox and the Yankees wore retro duds last season to celebrate their longstanding rivalry – but it is also presumably meant to be something of a distraction.
And it will be distracting. The 1914 uniform the team will wear later this month won't even say Cubs. Until 1916, when the Cubbies took over, Wrigley was home to Federal League teams, including the Whales and the Federals, whose uniforms will make a brief comeback. As the season rolls on, the team will also don zippered unis, reverse pinstriped unis, eighties-style elasticized pants, and the "Health" patch worn by every Major League team at the beginning of World War II. But the jersey likely to be greeted with the most fondness by those in the know is a simple 1969 pinstriped classic with a simple Mickey Mouse-style image of a bear on the left sleeve. Ernie Banks wore that shirt, emblazoned with the number 14, in better days. Yes, replicas are available if you want to join the team and celebrate baseball's most beautiful and enduring temple to disappointment. [$274.99; shop.mlb.com]