Cliff Lee T-Shirt: Failure of Form and Function


What you see above is Cliff Lee’s “Players Choice Signature Series T-Shirt,” designed with input from the man himself, and you too can own one for just $24.99. According to the MLB shop, the design was “inspired by Lee’s love of hunting.” In the humble opinion of this blogger, however, your money is better spent elsewhere, as this article of clothing is an abject failure on each of two important fronts for evaluating such matters: form and function.


I am aware that beauty is believed to be fundamentally subjective, but this shirt tests the limits of that understanding. It is as close to an objectively hideous shirt as can possibly be produced. This shirt is so ugly, it looks at Pete Rose’s ugly jacket and feels self-conscious. This shirt is so ugly, it wouldn’t even sell at a thrift store in Brooklyn. This shirt is so ugly, it will be shipped in bulk to an impoverished country (along with the “Texas Rangers 2010 WS Champs” merchandise)…and it will be returned to the sender along with a note reading “We tried. Sorry…” In an epoch of human history when our fashion choices represent a very basic facet of how we define ourselves as individuals, there is simply no rational person who would want to be defined by whatever it is this shirt says. Okay, I exaggerate. Let me just put it this way: Cliff Lee is a master of FIPpery and xFIPpery. Sartorial aesthetics? Not so much.

But all is not lost, you see. An ugly shirt is not necessarily a useless shirt. Indeed, Bartolo Colon is hardly George Clooney, but the Yankees have found a use for him. This brings us to…


By the most rudimentary definition of a “shirt” — an article of clothing that covers the upper body — this one performs its function adequately. Because it is camouflaged, though, it is clear that this shirt aspires to be more than just any shirt. Say, for instance, you were to wear this shirt into combat (one possible use for camouflage, not that I endorse combat of any kind) to blend in with your surroundings. You would almost certainly be killed. The large red Liberty Bell right on your chest would both expose your position to the enemy and would provide him with a nice big target at which to aim. Even if you assume that the enemy possesses just middling marksmanship skills (on the comprehensive AnkielZaytsev continuum), you can rightly expect to go home with a few more holes in your chest than you set out with.

Form and Function:

And finally, there is the nexus of form and function. Consider: you are in the woods hunting deer or some other medium-sized game. Consider also: you are stranded in those woods, having not had a substantial meal in a week, and the lives of you and your family depend on a successful hunt. You don the above shirt to attempt to gain a competitive advantage over your prey. Well, my friend, you’ve just made a deadly mistake. The deer have spotted your shirt and fled in horror at its sheer ugliness. You and your family starve. It is a great tragedy. At your funeral your mother says “He was a great son, but he always did have questionable taste in T-shirts”.


This shirt is ugly and it will likely get you killed.

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That is all.