Camouflage Yourself
How to Protect a National Pastime


I became convinced that nostalgia is a disease and I tried to stay healthy by avoiding the past.

It isn’t as if the Padres are trying to hide from their opponents — wearing outfield green or umpire replica uniforms.  And their jerseys aren’t completely covered with corporate logos so that they blend in with the rest of a stadium, either.  No, these camouflage uniforms call into question the very essence of camouflage itself: to not be noticed.  The Padres have worn a strikingly noticeable camouflage jersey on special days since the year 2000 — military amoeboid patterns in earth tones and grey greens.  They do this presuming that in camouflage they are saluting the US military. 

San Diego is a big military town where 15,000 businesses rely on Department of Defense contracts. That’s because San Diego proper is the habitat of Marines, submarines, Navy shipbuilding yards, the largest naval fleet in the world, and a substantial demographic of “America Fuck Yeah” jingoist yahoos. With all that soul-sucking nonsense in its backyard, I guess the Padres’ marketing department can’t see that, in spite of the arena hard rock throb that’s become part of stadium PA systems, baseball is pastoral — a pastime — not a military game.

When I first saw the Padres camouflage baseball jerseys, back at the turn of the century, I assumed that these silly costumes would go the way of Pump Up Trainers, Pogs, Hair Mascara and Tamagotchis.  A team named after Spanish priests won’t score wearing war gear, I thought. But I was very wrong.  I didn’t take into account the power and the glory of the Honey Boo Boo mind set — which must be the driving force behind San Diego’s decision to turn its ball team into a recruitment poster / honor guard for young virile men to fight in wars contracted by old Viagra-dependent men. In their research, Padres’ marketing must have seen Iraq War amputees getting all warm and fuzzy when they saw Carlos Quentin in camouflage.

But let’s stop this disrespectful mockery.  After all, you can’t say “guns for hire” without thinking “America’s best”.  Baseball uniforms honoring gun-related occupations is a good  — no great — marketing touchpoint.  Shouldn't we have a SWAT team baseball uniforms, an NRA baseball uniform, a hit man baseball uniform, a narcotraficante baseball uniform.  And why not branch out beyond firearms.  What about a dental hygienist baseball uniform, a network systems analyst baseball uniform, a philosophy professors’ baseball uniform, a waste management services baseball uniform?

Excuse me. What I’m really saying is: Let’s keep the crap out of baseball.  At it’s best, what our national pastime can provide for us (as a country, as a people) is a place to go where we can watch a game in peace — forgetting about our troubles on a beautiful evening in a great ballpark.  Isn’t that baseball?  If you want to salute the military, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, cluster bombs, torture, biological weapons, and the rest of that godforsaken puffed-up promotion of hell, then please literally, without any compromise, go camouflage yourself.

— Nathan Callahan

First Broadcast July 12, 2013

© / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved


Broadcasting Fridays at 8:50 am from KUCI 88.9 fm Orange County, California