Feminine Footwear Systems

Greetings and welcome. Today I am thinking about Tyler Clippard, Zack Greinke, and the 2016 Arizona Diamondbacks. Enjoy.

Whenever Saberfeet analyzes footwear we rely on adjectives to describe what makes an individual unique. I believe that both Clippard and Greinke are feminine men whose footwear is holding them back. Before we get into what changes Saberfeet would suggest let’s take a look at another set of feminine men who are wearing elite footwear systems.

Buster Posey, Cole Hamels, and Edinson Volquez are two pitchers and a catcher who are wearing footwear that I believe represents a pinnacle. Hamels is a New Balance man while Posey and Volquez prefer Under Armour. Each of them has a slightly different strategy, but the end result is footwear that flows seamlessly into their uniforms without distracting the trained eye.

During the 2015 season Tyler Clippard wore black cleats while Zack Greinke chose a pair that was white with scattered Dodger blue. White is a great choice for men like Bryce Harper, Eric Hosmer, and Troy Tulowitzki, but it seemed garish and insubstantial on Greinke. Conversely I felt as if Clippard’s black cleats weighed him down, drained him of energy, and robbed him of confidence.

Soft, subtle, muted colors tend to work best for feminine people. We can see that in the light gray cleats that Posey and Volquez have chosen. Zack Greinke pitches well, even if we momentarily ignore the idea that his footwear may be the wrong shape and size, could he pitch better if we gave him footwear that was a different color?

Properly fitted footwear systems return energy to the wearer so one thing I’d expect from both Clippard and Greinke if their footwear was upgraded would be an energy increase. Whether that’s going deeper into games, throwing more pitches, or pitching with less effort and better results – I predict that they would report greater energy if the recommended changes were implemented.

Saberfeet has long felt that Buster Posey’s footwear would work well for Zack Greinke. As someone who has been diagnosed with anxiety I can appreciate how Zack might be feeling at times. Footwear that is the wrong color for you can make you feel ill at ease and uncomfortable. Would Greinke be less anxious if he had different footwear?

Tyler Clippard intrigues me. I feel as if he should be more confident after pitching in the postseason. Knowing that the correct footwear can bolster self esteem I would like to see what he thinks of what Chris Colabello wore during the 2015 season. It’s wrong for Troy Tulowitzki, but I believe that it may be something that Tyler Clippard can rock if he likes it and approves of the switch.

I can envision Tyler Clippard driving a golf ball into a hole on a fairway near a battered Scottish castle. I think he would look nice in a pair of light gray trousers, a pastel polo, and this eye-wear: http://m.mlb.com/news/article/84721376/nationals-reliever-tyler-clippard-excited-to-share-in-jeters-final-all-star-game. Notice how the loose heather gray top flatters him. Edinson Volquez wears a uniform that is comfortably fitted and I’m wondering if a more relaxed uniform would benefit Tyler Clippard as well.

Could Arizona capitalize on brilliant pitching from Greinke and Clippard by making the footwear changes recommended here? The road to the postseason is long . Trips to the DL haunt the best of teams, but I’m less concerned about the physical health of Zack and Tyler in light of what I believe to be true about their psychological makeup and mental wellness.

Footwear is no magic bullet that will protect people from any type of injury, however it is equipment that can be analyzed and improved upon. Ideally everyone playing baseball would invest in a Saberfeet analysis, but for now consider the upside of what a small change like cleat color could do for Clippard, Greinke, and the 2016 Arizona Diamondbacks.

Saberfeet: How safe are your feet?


Footwear system components

This is a list of considerations for footwear systems. Enjoy.

  1. Shape*

Shape is the single most important component of any footwear system. I like to think of footwear as containers that hold feet. The shape of the container determines whether the foot inside feels squeezed, lost, or has that elusive just right Goldilocks fit. Great footwear systems are constructed from the foot out, yet many make decisions based on less critical factors. Shop for shape to eliminate the headaches and heartaches that accompany wearing the wrong shape.

How do you know that a particular shoe is shaped like your foot? Trace each foot onto a piece of cardboard. Put a mark by each MTPJ (bunion joint). Cut it out and bring it along to the store. Match it up to the sole, bend, and you should have a pretty good idea of how your foot will fit into a shoe from heel to toe and from left to right. Many overthink footwear. Patient listening and feedback are helpful here. Do you want to take the shoes off or keep wearing them? Let your body tell you what it likes and listen to it.

* Socks precede shape, but hosiery needs its own post #StayTuned

2. Size

Ideally every footwear purchase starts with a bare foot. Experts are experts because they have seen things and made mistakes that someone else hasn’t. They’ve encountered oddities, bungled decisions, hurt others and themselves, cried, sweated, sworn, and learned far too many lessons the hard way. Your size is your size. Manufacturer variance exists, but for the most part if you are a size eight going up to a size nine or down to a seven is unwise. When shape is right, size is an easier concept. I can give you shoes in your size that hurt your feet, that’s why shape comes first, and then we move on to size.

There are three measurements for every foot. Heel to longest toe, heel to MTPJ, and width. Width is a consideration after you determine whether to fit to toe length or arch length. The Brannock website offers an exceptional tutorial. I find this to be the consistently best way to measure feet as computer systems tend to average both feet and cost a lot more money than I’m willing to spend. There is no substitute for the human brain. Computers have their place, but you should be able to explain the calculations and assumptions they’re making and they should be used in conjunction with human eyes and the Brannock device.

3. Height

If I had to guess, I’d say that instep and arch are the two terms that are consistently interchanged for each other. Your instep is the portion of foot immediately after your ankle if you are looking down at your feet. Your instep is on the top of your foot. Your arches are underneath your feet. Any extreme is more difficult to work with than a more normal or average feature. I have an exceptionally high instep. My children have an exceptionally low rise. Neither is good or bad, these are challenges that need to be addressed for our footwear systems to function properly.

You can measure your instep in the comfort of your own home. Take a ruler and place it next to your foot. Measure from the floor up to the top of your instep. This doesn’t have to be an exact measurement, you’re trying to get a feel for how much area your foot is displacing inside of your footwear. Height can make or break footwear. It’s a little understood and under applied footwear component, but thanks to this article you can go forward armed with new knowledge.

4. Depth

This will be a familiar term if you work in the therapeutic footwear market as government regulations specify how deep the toe-box needs to be to qualify. Height differs from depth since it is measuring the space where your toes go. This is especially important for diabetics with conditions such as LOPS (loss of protective sensation), prior amputations, poor circulation, and/or foot deformities. Some people can’t feel pain in their feet and can walk around with a Lego, bottle cap, or matchbox car in their footwear without realizing it’s there.

Depth is an important concept, if your toes lack enough room your feet will be uncomfortable. Signs that your footwear isn’t deep enough include holes in your socks on the top of the toe area. Shoes rub against them and eventually the friction rubs a hole in your socks. Shoes can also be too deep for people. The extremes here are Clayton Kershaw and Chris Bassitt if you need a baseball analogy. Think of footwear as a container you’re pouring leftovers into, you need just enough room, too little is just as bad as too much.

5. Weight

This component merits our consideration, but first we need to contemplate the two ways that this term can be used. I use it to refer to the weight of a shoe, and to the amount of weight a footwear system will be supporting. As a five foot tall woman sitting at the computer my footwear isn’t working as hard as footwear worn by a leaping shortstop with a forty-nine inch vertical. What goes up must come down; gravity and compression forces act upon footwear which must be resilient enough to withstand distortion, torque, shear, moisture, and temperature changes.

Body weight fluctuates. People lose weight, people gain weight. Pregnancy, illness, and disease are just three of the factors that can influence weight. When your weight changes, your shoe size may too, another reason I stress that feet need to be measured every time you intend to purchase footwear. Footwear that is too heavy fatigues feet. Footwear that is too light may not be durable or secure enough. Everyone has a different weight need, addressing yours will increase comfort and safety.

6. Color

Your shoes are the right shape. You found the correct size. They’re deep enough, tall enough, and the weight is appropriate for your usage. Now we can move onto the fun part which is color. For anyone who wants to learn more about how I determine what color is likely to work well for someone, I use an adaptation of Carol Tuttle’s energy profiling system. I spent a hundred bucks on it and have never regretted a penny of my investment. This tool sets me apart from a lot of other people and explains how I can confidently make recommendations for people I have never met.

Establishing your neutral is the first step. I work with four neutrals to make life easier on myself: white, light gray, dark gray, and black. Typically one of these will work better than another. Carol also has ideas on metallics that I’ve found invaluable. Footwear and art exist in conjunction with this wonderfully wide diverse world around us, but we have to start with the basics before we can proceed to texture, stripes, foxing (this is a footwear term that I thought would be fun for people to learn), etc…

Tying it all together:

Footwear is a statement of who you are and what you want the world to believe about you. Whether you are smart, sexy, sensual, classy, cool, calm, charismatic, enigmatic, melodramatic, hypnotic, erotic, exotic, or all of those things by turns, your footwear helps send messages to yourself and others. Messages to yourself should reinforce your best qualities. Messages to others will be read according to their perspective and life experiences. There aren’t hard and fast rules, but there are some guidelines and there are always those cases when the suggestions can be safely tossed out your nearest window.

One thing you don’t see here: marketing terms. Many employers teach sales people to extol the FAB’s (features, advantages, and benefits) of a product. This works when a shopper selects a shoe that happens to be a shape that is congruent with their foot, they have socks that work well with that shoe, and it’s available in their size and a color that is flattering to them. Avoid letting a sales person talk about why the company that made it thinks a shoe is wonderful, it probably is for the person whose foot they had in mind when it was designed. You need shoes that work for you, not someone else.

You are the star of the show when it comes to footwear. Anyone who does anything other than explain why they believe a footwear system will work for you based on your foot is missing the entire point. People who work in shoes tend to know what they’re talking about and what will work for someone or they don’t last. They can be more rational and less emotional which is a good thing when shoe shopping. Ethical employees will avoid pressuring people or forcing a sale. Expertise is less important than rapport and trust, if you’re uneasy working with someone, speak up or leave.

Many view shoe shopping as a necessary evil. Manufacturers blame retailers, retailers blame clients, clients blame capitalism and free enterprise, but the whole process can be tremendous fun. The key is streamlined simplicity and attitude. Expert decisions and quality information should be guiding this process or it won’t go well. Build relationships, treat others well, and arm yourself with this type of basic knowledge while understanding that a blog post can’t replace years of experience or your own intuition.

My goal is to create a win/win/win for myself, my clients, my employer, and whoever produced the footwear I’m selling. I do this by sticking to my system, listening to my clients and their feedback, and trusting my own gut. Everyone will make mistakes, how you handle the screw up determines whether you can rebuild lost trust or you get sued after someone tripped, fell down the stairs, and died in shoes you sold them. Footwear can be as ugly or as beautiful as you choose to see it.

Thanks for your time today. I had a lot of fun putting this together, and I hope you feel that your time here was spent well. Once you have a good grasp of the fundamentals, the world of footwear really opens up to you. The world doesn’t become your oyster, your prior frustrations were adding layers to the pearl inside. You can not know any of this and still be a healthy well adjusted person, keep footwear in perspective or it will take over your life which upon further reflection, may not be an entirely bad thing… #Wink

Saberfeet: how safe are your feet?

Dangerous Footwear Systems

I love baseball. This list makes me very sad.

Bassitt, Chris:

Improperly fitted footwear endangers the wearer and others to the degree that it is unstable and unpredictable. Watching Chris Bassitt fight to keep his footwear on was terrifying. I believe that it’s too tall, possibly too wide, and that he may have a narrow heel. Every time he lifts his foot he’s carrying his footwear with him instead of it acting as an extension of his body. It’s astonishing to me that he’s able to throw anything toward the plate given how his footwear system is failing him.

Grade: 20

Recommendation: Length seems appropriate. Reduce vertical height to increase foot and footwear contact. Physical therapy to retrain muscles that have been misused. Proceed with caution.

Greinke, Zack:

From the ankles up I get lost in watching Greinke pitch. His footwear makes me nervous for several reasons. I believe it’s the wrong shape for his foot, I believe it may not be long enough for him, and I feel as if the color and style are at odds with his personality which robs him of confidence in his footwear system.

His name is here because periodically I run into people who think that color is irrelevant. Would manufacturers offer us choices if color is meaningless? I vote no. I have a system that I use to help me determine what colors and textures may work well for someone. Shape is the most important footwear concept, color is right behind it. I might not state that color takes precedence over size, but I think it at times.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: Study bare foot to determine shape. Ideally I see him in the shade of gray that Chris Colabello and Buster Posey prefer.

Tulowitzki, Troy:

Every time I see Tulo I feel bad for him. It seems to me that he’s in a lot of pain and I wonder how much of that can be attributed to his footwear and posture. Constructing what if scenarios is futile, but in my opinion he’s a Hall of Fame player given better fitting footwear from day one. You probably have an opinion on that and you’re welcome to it. This is mine and I like it.

If I could talk to him I would ask him if he feels like he’s responsible for things that are beyond his control. I think Troy is a fun guy who needs to accept that about himself. Fun people fill a necessary and important role in a team situation. In my dream world he and Zack Greinke switch footwear and both feel better once they’re accustomed to the change. I think they bring different things to the table and would work well together in a team setting if mutual differences were respected (and I believe that they would be).

Grade: 50

Recommendation: This is another case that I think would move quickly. Identify foot shape, make sure that he has enough length and width for his foot to do what it needs to when he’s batting or fielding. Match footwear to his personality and watch his confidence in himself grow.

Myers, Wil:

For a long time I had a serious problem with Wil Myers and his footwear. Most of my job is recognizing what is right. People like Wil Myers give me trouble because when there’s more wrong than right I worry about them setting themselves up for chronic issues. He hasn’t been healthy enough to play many games, but I can’t blame a broken wrist on his footwear.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: There’s work to do, but I don’t see anything about him that makes me think he would be a complicated case unless he doesn’t feel like there’s a problem with what he’s wearing. The most important aspect of a footwear consult is the trust between people. I can only work with people who trust me, and sometimes there are personality conflicts that make you unfit to work with someone else. I’d rather see him continue to wear what he has than to get into it with him or anyone else. This would be a good case for a colleague of mine if I had one.

Belt, Brandon:

I tend to group people in my mind. Brandon joins Greinke, Tulo, and Tyler Clippard as one of the players whose 2015 footwear is at odds with what would really work well for him. It’s heavy, dark, and seems stiff. I feel bad and frustrated for him, fortunately I think he’s another person who would be fairly easy to work with if he was willing to experiment with different colors and styles. I’m not a medical anything, but I’d like to hear what a professional has to say about valgus knee stress.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: This may not seem like the obvious starting point, but I’d like to learn why he favors the high socks. I would steer him away from black which would mean trying longer pants if he’s open to that look. As far as color goes, I’d like to see how he feels about the color scheme Buster Posey favors. Hang in there Brandon, better footwear is out there.

Moreland, Mitch:

Part of the problem with Mitch Moreland is I happened to see him on the same day I had the opportunity to observe what Mark Canha was wearing. The night and day difference may have affected my initial evaluation, but subsequent appearances haven’t altered my feeling about his footwear. I recently read that he was playing with a stress fracture and immediately wondered if footwear played a role in his injury. For some reason he rubs me the wrong way and since I’ve never met him in person, I’m going to assume that it’s me and not him. He and Wil Myers are better off without a second mom in their lives.

Grade: 50 (I really want to put 40, but I’m trying to adjust for bias)

Recommendation: Podiatry visit and footwear consult. Apologize for being a venomous bitch with a terminal case of footwear snobbery.

Cabrera, Miguel:

This is where baseball loses me because I can never appreciate his bat the way that others do. I start at his feet and rarely get a chance to move upward. I understand he has knee problems, and I’m not surprised. Someone has worked with him, I can see that, but I wonder what he’s going to do when he’s done playing baseball and can hardly move without some degree of pain.

Baseball players tend to be young. Men like Bartolo Colon and David Ortiz are rarities. Youth has trouble believing that the body parts they have are going to age more rapidly with heavy stress than they will if they are properly maintained from the beginning. I feel really bad for him, and I’m not sure there’s a lot that can be done for him at this point in time.

Grade: 60

Recommendation: I’d like to see how he feels about a lighter color scheme, but I wouldn’t do much outside of that. Know when to fit, know when a case is beyond your level of knowledge and expertise.

Ortiz, David:

Once upon a time I either read or heard that Ortiz claims he can wear anything from a nine to a thirteen. I’m here to tell you that while this may be theoretically possible, it is inadvisable. This is why baseball needs a footwear selection and distribution system that puts player safety ahead of dollars from footwear contracts. Ortiz has gotten away with this which makes him fortunate. Systems and process rather than luck should be driving footwear choices. Luck has a funny way of running out on you when you need it most.

Grade: 60

Recommendation: Ortiz has a keen sense of personal style. I have a hard time envisioning sitting him down for a footwear consult so I’d probably just chill out and appreciate the fact that he’s a colorful product of a flawed system. It’s not up to me to change the world or Big Papi.

Familia, Jeurys:

During the postseason and the World Series games I said numerous prayers that Terry Collins would take his bullpen in for footwear consults. The problem with the World Series is you don’t want to change anything on anyone that could alter the way that they pitch or field, and it takes time to adjust to new footwear systems. Familia, Clippard, and Reed all seemed to be wearing the same style of footwear and it didn’t work for any of them.

The Royals had the footwear advantage going into game one. Footwear isn’t the be all and end all of any sport, but how does the outcome change if Cespedes catches the Alcides Escobar hit or Matt Harvey has different footwear and pitches a complete game instead of leaving in the ninth inning? Could footwear make that kind of a difference? I don’t know. I think it’s within the realm of possibility and less far fetched than scenarios I’ve entertained previously.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: The Mets have a uniform that is very hard to work with in my opinion. From what I’m seeing the problem won’t be Familia’s foot which I think needs some extra length, width, and height, it’s going to be finding anything that looks good on him and the uniform he’s required to wear. Custom cleats are a place to start. In my world he gets traded to the Brewers, Toronto, the Dodgers, the Royals, Rays, or the Padres. I know baseball doesn’t work that way. That’s just what I want for him.

Gordon, Alex:

You just read a sentence where I stated that the Royals had the footwear advantage going into the World Series. Here’s an exception to that rule and I would include Mike Moustakas in this conversation. After investigating a conspiracy theory that these men were spearheading a group wearing footwear designed to make me nervous I concluded that Ned Yost has better things to do with his time.

Grade: 50/60 (Moustakas has slightly better footwear in my opinion)

Recommendation: Sometimes I have strong brand, color, or style ideas, and sometimes I pray for inspiration. I’m leaning toward trying gray with Alex Gordon and giving Mike Moustakas a basic black leather cleat. Probably a fairly smooth transition with minor adjustments once we iron out the fundamental shape/size issues.

Beltre, Adrian:

This is hard for me to write. Adrian Beltre is one of my favorite third basemen and I can hardly stand to watch him play because of his footwear. He’s been playing for so long that I can’t see him being comfortable with a footwear change. Ditto for his teammate Elvis Andrus, but there may be hope for someone like Delino DeShields who reminds me of Curtis Granderson. It says a lot about the 2015 Rangers that they went as far as they did with the footwear they had. Rougned Odor has footwear that I like, but he was the sole infielder wearing something I would have passed had I been there to hand out footwear grades.

Grade: 50

Recommendation: Footwear consult and frank chat. Determine level of trust and go from there. Probably an easy case as far as footwear upgrades go, but it’s going to feel very strange to wear a different size. My sense is that he’s a routine person who dislikes change. I would tread very lightly here once I got past my initial awe.

Krol, Ian:

Ian Kinsler is also on this list, but Ian Krol is more problematic from my point of view so I chose to give him more attention. I’ve made a lot of poor choices in my life, many of them because I didn’t know any better. I believe that’s the case with Ian Krol, or at least I hope it is since I’m struggling to come up with a scenario where the footwear he has was the best of the possible choices.

Footwear shape is the most critical component; if shape is your problem there is no easy fix. You have to go back to the beginning and start over which is what I would do with him if he was a client of mine. We can work with Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg if they’re willing to have their footwear evaluated along with his. I didn’t see many 2015 Nationals wearing footwear that I felt comfortable with although Bryce Harper has potential and Ian Desmond was a treat. Hopefully Dusty Baker addresses the footwear issues before Opening Day 2016.

Grade: 40

Recommendation: The nice thing about very dysfunctional footwear systems is that these people benefit the most from upgrades. There’s nothing I’m seeing that leads me to believe he lacks anything other than a systematic footwear evaluation. I’d love to observe a before and after situation where we have him pitch in his regular footwear and then get the same footage of him in better fitting footwear. I think he’s the ideal candidate for a footwear swap and would hang onto him if he does what I think he could given a more stable and reliable base. Ignore the haters Ian, it’s not you, it’s your shoes.

Clippard, Tyler:

I wrote a separate piece on him that I never posted. In that he leaves baseball for golf. He isn’t wearing the worst footwear in baseball, but his makes me the saddest.

Recommendation: Transition to PGA, enjoy exploring ruined castles in Ireland, romance tempestuous cellist.


The other day I wrote about elite footwear systems. In the future I’d like to list players by team and position. Apart from Miguel Cabrera these are players that I think would look and feel better after a one hour footwear consult that includes evaluating their bare feet, measuring them properly, and getting them into something that fits them and their personality.

As an expert I operate at the most basic and fundamental level footwear has. For some of these players a footwear change isn’t going to make a tremendous difference in the here and now. Adrian Beltre is already great, but for someone like Chris Bassitt or Ian Krol, this could be a game changer. Nobody questions that Tulo is good and it’s not always about increasing performance.

Footwear is like food, water, sleep, and other basics. Anytime you cut corners on a fundamental, you run into problems. Baseball careers can be brutally short. These people are being done a great disservice and so are their fans, coaches, managers, front office, and owners. I’ve framed this as a baseball project, but my hope is that this type of analysis and information will spark conversations and effect change outside of the baseball cocoon.

There are fewer than a thousand Major League Baseball players, millions of people watching them, and billions of people on this planet. It’s my belief that we all have footwear needs without a system that guides us to products that have half a chance of meeting them properly. It makes me sad to write posts of this nature, but I feel like I don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.

Baseball is a game and if we’re keeping score poor footwear choices are responsible for some percentage of injuries and discomfort. I’d like to see that change. What about you? Are you in?

Saberfeet: How safe are your feet?