Cubs utility man Ben Zobrist has been wearing black cleats for Wrigley Field day games since he was signed by Chicago two years ago--for the first time, MLB sent him a cease and desist letter.
"Dear, MLB," Zobrist wrote on his Instagram. "I still love you, but this is ridiculous."
Dear @mlb, I still like you but this is rediculous. For the last two years, I have worn black spikes exclusively at Wrigley Field for Day games to pay homage to the history of our great game, and now I am being told I will be fined and disciplined if I continue to wear them. When I was a kid, I was inspired by highlights of the greats such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial in the 1950s-60s and was captured by the old uniforms and all black cleats with flaps. @newbalancebaseball made a kid’s dream come true by making some all black spikes with the special tongue as well as the “Benny the Jet” @pf_flyers cleats. I am curious as to why @mlb is spending time and money enforcing this now when they haven’t done it previously in the last year and beyond. I have heard nothing but compliments from fans that enjoy the “old school” look. Maybe there is some kid out there that will be inspired to look more into the history of the game by the “flexibility” that I prefer in the color of my shoes. Sincerely, Ben Zobrist
Zobrist said he wears the black cleats to pay homage to Cubs legend Ernie Banks and his St. Louis Cardinals rival Stan Musial, who both frequently wore all black cleats.
The 34-year-old veteran got some custom shoes, designed by new balance, that have big black tounges and another pair of PF flyers with "Benny the Jet" branding.
"I am curious as to why @mlb is spending time and money enforcing this now when they haven’t done it previously in the last year and beyond," Zobrist wrote. "I have heard nothing but compliments from fans that enjoy the “old school” look. Maybe there is some kid out there that will be inspired to look more into the history of the game by the “flexibility” that I prefer in the color of my shoes."
Zobrist wasn't the only one hearing from MLB after a cleat controversy, Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger received a similar letter this week.
Make baseball fun again, they said, it would be fun, they said..... pic.twitter.com/tfdzTjXfWm
— 🦉Mike Clevinger 🌺 (@Mike_Anthony13) May 11, 2018
In response, Clevinger wrote, "Make baseball fun again, they said, it would be fun, they said....."
The letter reads, "You violated section A, which provides that,'Non alterations, writing or illustrations ... are to to be to any part of the uniform.' Various illustrations were visible on your shoes during you Club's May 1, 2018 game."
They’re not the typical flashy colors your used to seeing from @Mike_Anthony13 but just know they’re not the typical navy blue cleat either. #hrusovskyscustomkicks #customcleats #wpw #bohemianelephant #redjewel #elephant #jewels #clevelandindians @UABaseball @AngelusDirect pic.twitter.com/nfsPMrymFP
— Jonathan Hrusovsky (@JHrusovsky) May 6, 2018
The cleats were mainly black with some pink trim and a white, drawn elephant with a ruby jewel.
Many players and shoe companies have come to the players' defense. PF Flyers tweeted a photo of Zobrist in a "Benny the Jet" pose wearing the shoes and his teammate Anthony Rizzo commented his support.
It appears that Zobrist, Clevinger and New Balance are not stepping down.