There is a scene in Reno 911! — the now-defunct TV series that parodied law enforcement shows such as Cops — where the main character, known for rocking short shorts as part of his uniform, arrives at a local store to pick up a new pair of white cowboy boots.
The character — Lieutenant Jim Dangle, the highest-ranking deputy in the sheriff’s department — takes his kicks for a spin in the parking lot, clicking his heels and strutting with delight.
“Oh! Wait, what?” he says into the camera, while striking poses as if he’s being followed by paparazzi. “I’m just goofin’. New boot goofin’.”
Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen knows a little something about “new boot goofin’.” Inspired by that scene, he picked up some eye-catching footwear of his own this season: eight pairs of Nike Air Monarch IVs.
“If you’ve ever been on any Greyhound bus or public transportation, you’ve probably seen a bus driver wear them,” Jansen said. “That’s just the stereotype they get. Also, if you’ve ever been in a nursing home, I’m sure a couple of people have worn them there, too.”
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The wide, comfortable cross-trainer has been a mainstay in the Nike line for almost two decades. The chunky, white-leather sneaker was developed in the 1990s — around the time the 24-year-old Jansen was born — for the “no-frills older male customer,” according to the company website. Nike scouted a theme park to see what shoes men were wearing in the summer, and asked them about specific features.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, now 67, was among the first to attract attention by wearing Monarchs, but the so-called “dad shoe” has had something of a renaissance among young fashionista in recent years. There are Instagram accounts dedicated to bringing back the look, while Toronto-born rapper Drake and Oklahoma City Thunder all-star Russell Westbrook have been spotted wearing them.
It was Adam Jones who brought the Monarchs to Jansen’s attention, when the veteran outfielder wore a souped-up pair during Players Weekend with the Baltimore Orioles last August.
“I thought that was so funny,” Jansen said. “I remember when I ordered these I sent him a picture of them, and he sent me back like, ‘Haha.’ He absolutely loved it.”
Jansen gave seven pairs to teammates — including catcher Luke Maile, outfielder Billy McKinney and coach John Schneider.
“Just trying to lighten up the mood early,” Jansen said “I just wanted to get some guys some shoes. They’re like 60 bucks. Just treat them to some fun. They’re sort of (batting practice) shoes. We call them goofer shoes because we’re just goofing with them. They’re just goofy.”
The footwear — dubbed Air Janos after Jansen — has spawned a ritual: a handshake complete with an “Oh!” followed by a point to the sneakers and then the dugout.
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Jansen almost always wears his Monarchs for batting practice and swears his teammates love them, too — despite “about a pound of sweat on your feet.”
“They’re not very breathable,” said Maile, adding that he could still be wearing them when he’s 65. “I think that there might be a little bit of an athlete’s foot case going around with the guys if they continue to wear them, but if it locks you in, then it’s all part of it.”
McKinney rooted around at the bottom in his locker for what he calls his “clunkers,” and swears they’re part of his rotation “from time to time.”
“They’re comfortable,” he said. “Really comfortable, I’ve learned.”
Schneider agreed, even though Jansen ordered the coach an extra-wide pair — with the word “goofin” in black marker — that makes him feel like he’s walking in “two shoeboxes.”
“They look awful, but they’re sneaky comfortable,” he said.
Schneider added that the value of the gesture when it comes to team bonding is priceless.
“The season’s so long,” he said. “I’m such a big proponent, (manager Charlie Montoyo) is such a big proponent, of having fun, staying positive. You have to do those little things over the course of a long season to keep your mind fresh and to keep the vibes good.”
Jansen gets that.
“I need to rally the troops up again,” he said. “Maybe one day in the future, it would be a dream of mine if all eight of us could wear them at the same time. It’s a slight possibility, but …”
And while they’re batting practice shoes for now, Jansen has bigger plans: “I think these things have some hits in them, so I’m going to spike them up and see what we got.”
Laura Armstrong is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy
Published at Sun, 12 May 2019 04:44:27 +0000