I've been on a weird sleep non-schedule lately, so I literally slept on the Padres' announcement that they'll host five "Way Back Wednesday" games this season in which the team will wear the brown pinstriped uniforms which were originally worn from 1985 until 1991 when the club switched the brown to navy blue. While I love that uniform set -- and I did even before I became the owner of a Joey Cora uniform from that era -- and I like throwback games in principle, I feel like this particular set of throwback games is a step back in terms of the ultimate goal of bringing back the brown on a permanent basis.
While a part of me is skeptical as to the motives of exactly why the club would throw fans a bone in the form of one of the less-popular brown uniforms on Wednesday afternoons, I don't feel like it's fair to speculate on their thought processes. What I do feel comfortable with commenting on is the potential negative impact this could have, regardless of why it was put in motion.
It worries me that any feedback, positive or negative, regarding the throwback days can be used to justify keeping navy as the team's primary color. If it's an overwhelming success, that will be attributed to the promo itself, and why would they want to eliminate something that delivers a burst of attention every other week or so? Bringing back brown full-time would take the world by storm, but that would be one huge bump followed by people getting accustomed to seeing the Padres in their proper colors; throwbacks work as a two-edged sword by creating buzz and keeping the problem in the public consciousness, yet the constant attention the problem provides seems more valuable than putting an actual solution in place. Basically it's a lot like how there's a lot more money in medicating a disease than there is in curing it.
On the tail side of that coin, however, if the throwback games have a less-than-stellar reception for some reason -- say, I don't know, maybe because they're tucked away on Wednesday afternoons and feature a uniform that isn't regarded as a classic -- that can easily be interpreted as a general disinterest in brown.
Along with those concerns, throwback games are in name and practice rooted firmly in the past. While the past is an important facet of why brown is the only choice for the Padres, relegating brown to throwback events casts it as kitsch, as a novelty, as a relic. Again, I don't assume that the Way Back Wednesday throwback promotion is part of an elaborate plan to keep brown down, but it certainly seems like it could be a speed bump on the road to Browntown.