ben zobrist-chicago cubs-major league baseball

Major League Baseball is cracking down on cleats.

A day after Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger complained on Twitter that the league objected to his footwear, Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist slammed MLB in an Instagram post for calling out his all-black clears.

“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,” Zobrist wrote Saturday. “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 shared a letter from MLB explaining that his all-black cleats violated the league’s uniform regulations because they were not predominantly the Cubs’ designated color (blue).

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

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

If Zobrist got in trouble for cleats that were aggressively old-school, Clevinger was called out earlier this week for a very different reason. His shoes featured pink accents and a design artist Jonathan Hrusovsky called “bohemian elephant.”

Players have been griping about cleat regulations for years, with freedom of footwear a key part of Bryce Harper’s “Make Baseball Fun Again” platform, but MLB seems stubborn in its uniform codes. If the league will call out Zobrist for all-black cleats meant to honor Ernie Banks, you know it won’t accede to anything actually fun.

On one hand, restrictions on baseball footwear ranks pretty low on the list of outrages in the world, and Zobrist probably didn’t need to bust a blood vessel over it. On the other hand, you’d think MLB could lighten up, just a little, on something as trivial as players’ cleats.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.