The New Britain RockCats Shirt
What it means to me: I like that this is a Twins farm team, but mostly it’s one of those quintessential minor league team names that follow the pattern of Aspect Of The Area + Random Monosyllabic Animal. This one is especially perfect, because I don’t even know if Rock refers to their area being famous for certain rocks, or for the genre of music.
What I want it to project: This shirt ought to say that I care about sports, but not so much that I always need to represent a team that I actually follow, or even a major league team. It should also say that I somehow have connections to get apparel from a place you may not have heard of or at least don’t know where it is. The connections I have, of course, are simply to the big league team…
The Story: In one of my best purchases of the winter, I went to TwinsFest™ for the usual excuse to look over apparel and merch I’m probably not going to buy. But mostly just to get psyched about the Twins. In the farm system section, I chose this one over a Fort Myers Miracle hat, which honestly would have been cool, but I didn’t think they were worth my time as an A ball team. The only other choice was a Rochester Red Wings T-shirt, but since we’ve changed Triple A affiliates twice already since I started following the team, doesn’t seem like a great investment.
Loyola Marymount T-shirt
Um… Why…?: It actually means something to both me and Mike B. Even though the team is not a contender anymore, we became enamored of the team when we watched ESPN 30 for 30’s “The Guru of Go”, which was mostly about that late ‘80s team that made a huge run. It’s just so amazing that a guy could go so unrecognized for not so much revolutionizing a sport, as turning it in to something else. That’s what he did with the game of college basketball. This team had could not be beaten at full strength and they wouldn’t have been at all if not for one of their star players, Hank Gathers, dying on the court. That’s what he did. And his good friend Bo Kimble then shot the first of every pair of free throws in the NCAAs left-handed in honor of him- and made every single one. So Mike and I just have this code for gushing over the whole thing which will come up either whenever there’s something about that team even tangently in the news or if I’m wearing the shirt.
So… Who…?: The whole story is that I got it from a guy at my church who was giving them away to volunteers for some charity run that I ended up not even volunteering at but my mom did and of course they got drenched in the rain which I hear happens every year at this particular thing. [gasp] But suffice it to say, about the least I’ve ever earned a T-shirt.
Carbon Leaf T
What Is That?: I have loved this band since I first heard them when Marty downloaded a bunch of (illegal?) music onto my laptop my sophomore year of college. They sat there unlistened to for several weeks, as I was too busy judging them by their name. But when I did, I loved every album. Bought the third one that I couldn’t listen to, and have since bought 2 ½ more albums from them (they recently release a legitimate half album, which of course, I bought). And last fall it worked out that they were in town, and I was available to go to one of their shows. Alex Hennen didn’t really know them, but he knew I liked them and informed me they were playing. I was panicking in the weeks leading up to it, while we still didn’t have tickets. And when Al got them with a week to spare, I was both psyched and offended. (How are they not popular enough to be sold out at this point?!) The show was everything it ought to have been and more. This wasn’t the first concert T I have, but it will be the last one I own, if I have my druthers.
What I Want It To Project: In the most hipster way possible, I want it to be a band you haven’t heard of, but maybe you have, in which case you’re cool.
The Decision: I had to decide at the concert between this one and a white one. I’m normally not much for black shirts, but this was a good decision. It’s kind of a European fit, and I’m less of a European size now, so I’m glad it is black and therefore thinning. But the design is a cool one, too, though not one I’ve seen on any album covers. Kind of got a gothic thing going on, which I respect.
Israel Coke T (retired)
Why I Like It: This shirt, red like the product it endorses, essentially embodies what I’m about. I love Coke, and I love travelling. Having a Coke shirt from another country is really one of the most American things you can do, in that you are showing off what another country has made of an American establishment. It is imperialism at its finest. But on a less cynical note, I simply enjoyed showing off that I appreciate the language and culture of another country, whether that’s what other people actually got out of it.
What You Should, Too: At the very least, I wanted people to get my love of Coke, one side of one of the great nonexistent debates in our society, up there with Burger King or McDonalds. The fact that it’s from another country shows that my experiences in another country may have been relatively superficial, but the country that I went to was deep enough that there’s no reason to expound.
The Story: The marketplace in the Old City of Jerusalem is where some of the most intense haggling I’ve ever encountered occurs. Later on in the trip, my haggling skills would get more polished, but I remember the first deal they offered at this particular t-shirt shop was pretty reasonable. So I made sure to get a Coke shirt, because it was truly one of the experiences I will remember most fondly about the place. It ended up being one of the few times I’ve actually worn something on a trip that I bought as a souvenir. I would later wear it to a party at the house of my Jewish cousins (he married into the family), where his mom explained to me what the Hebrew literally translated to. As she went from right to left (it being Hebrew), I was disappointed to learn it pretty much just wrote out Koh-Kah Koh-Lah, phonetically. Why? They could call it whatever they wanted? I guess the Israelis just thought it meant something to maintain its authenticity, even if they couldn’t understand it.
 What I’ve concluded about why I don’t have any soccer gear is the simple reason that it’s not something that’s that important to me. I have a couple basketball shirts, many Twins shirts and a bunch of Packers stuff. I still feel comfortable enough with the stuff I do like, that I’m okay knowing a little less about the sport than those I watch it with. And their being able to answer any questions I have allows me to enjoy it that much more. I know enough about baseball, football, and more recently basketball, that I can watch those sports on my own and appreciate them. I just don’t think I’m at that point with soccer yet.
 …As many shirts as I have, there are still a fair amount that I wish I did have. I recently acquired a shirt for an alcoholic beverage I actually enjoy, Magic Hat #9, which I got at Bonnaroo. The closest thing I had to that previously was a free Miller-Liteguard shirt from a promotion they were doing at a bar downtown. I hate Miller Lite. But I would like any Leinie’s apparel. Another shirt I don’t have is any soccer jersey. I might have to get a USMNT shirt for when we go down to Kansas City this fall. I also wouldn’t mind getting a Seattle Sounders kit. They’re my unofficial adopted MLS team, as I’m not going to cheer for a Chicago team, and I really like the city of Seattle. But I would probably get an Aston Villa jersey above all, as they are my first team, a Premier League team (hopefully for a while), and their kits are pretty awesome, too.