The White Sox are once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Prior to the White Sox’s game on Saturday, reports came out that starter Chris Sale had been scratched from the lineup. Seeing as the August 1st Trade Deadline is right around the corner, early speculation was that he had been traded. After all, the White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn said himself that the team had been “mired in mediocrity,” so an unloading of arguably the best pitcher in the American League (2.99 ERA since 2012) wouldn’t seem unreasonable if it brought back an impressive haul of prospects. When the full story broke, however, an embarrassing tale of child-like frustration left Sale looking nothing like a mature, poised athlete on a major league baseball team.
Saturday’s White Sox game was a much publicized 1976 throwback uniform game, meaning that all the players would be wearing uniforms resembling those worn by the White Sox from that year. Sale, however, had expressed that he would refuse to pitch in those uniforms, claiming that they were uncomfortable, and that pitching in an untucked jersey would mess with his mechanics since he had never pitched in such a uniform (okay sure, let’s go with that). So naturally, when Sale saw the ’76 uniform at his locker, he demanded a different uniform to wear. When Sale didn’t get his way, he took scissors to his uniform, rendering it unwearable for the game. He then proceeded to heroically slice all of his teammates’ jerseys to pieces to save them from playing in untucked jerseys (The team would don 1983 jerseys instead).
Sale was rightfully scratched from the starting lineup and was suspended five games for his actions, but he didn’t seem very apologetic for his actions when he publically commented to mlb.com’s Scott Merkin on Monday:
“When I saw that there was something in the way of that 100 percent winning mentality, I had an issue. I tried to bring it up and say, ‘Hey listen, these are my thoughts and concerns,’ and they got pushed away because of the business deal that was set in place. I’ll never understand why we need to do something on the business side on the field that might impede us winning a game.”
Chris Sale really needs to take a step back and think about the “business” side of the game.
While Sale’s desire to win every game possible is commendable, he needs to realize that baseball is a business. These special throwback games are heavily advertised and help bring fans to the ball park, which is how teams make money. Teams then use that money to pay salaries to retain good players and to try and acquire new ones. These throwback games are especially important, so just because the uniform is slightly uncomfortable doesn’t give anyone the right to destroy the team’s property. Additionally, Sale put an incredible strain on the White Sox bullpen, forcing them to use reliever Matt Albers as the starter (who had pitched in two straight games prior, meaning he could only go two innings). Granted, the White Sox would actually go on to win that game on a walk-off; but for Sale to claim that winning as many games as possible is the priority and then follow his words up by pulling a stunt like this is absolutely unacceptable.
Chris Sale is the face of the White Sox. He has been their best player since 2012, and because he signed an incredibly team-friendly deal ($12 million next year, $12.5 and $15 million dollar club options for 2018 and 2019, respectively) is surely a fan favorite. The 27 year-old 5 time All-Star is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, but with this incident, in addition to publically bashing team officials after Adam Laroche’s retirement in the off-season, Sale is quickly making a bad name for himself in regards to respecting his team’s coaches and ownership. And he definitely infuriated plenty of fans who not only went to the ballpark to see 1976 jerseys, but also to see their ace and star player Chris Sale mesmerize the crowd with dazzling curveballs and lightning fast four-seamers.
Sale’s next start will come Thursday at Wrigley Field against the rival Cubs. Let’s hope for the White Sox’s sake that all goes smoothly.