A 27-year-old Florida man, livid that his work uniform was uncomfortable, cut it and others in a fit of rage that got him banished from his job for a night and left his future status unclear.
Chris Sale, a left-handed pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, blanched at wearing the 1976 throwback uniforms his employer provided before his scheduled start Saturday evening. After the concerns were not addressed to Sale’s satisfaction, he slashed the uniforms and was sent home for the evening.
The White Sox said they would investigate the matter.
Sale made national news during spring training when he cursed out team president Kenny Williams for banning the teenaged son of first baseman Adam LaRoche from the White Sox’s clubhouse. LaRoche quit and forfeited his $13 million salary. Sale hung the jersey of Drake LaRoche, the 14-year-old, in his spring-training locker – a locker Sale may never use again.
A five-time All-Star and leading Cy Young candidate, Sale in recent days has been the subject of trade rumors. The incident is not believed to be related to these conversations but rather an aversion to baseball uniforms with spread collars, bunched-up pants and high socks.
Fashion experts immediately praised Sale for his actions.
Sale’s refusal to wear the throwback stems from the long-standing policy of most teams that allows the starting pitcher to pick the team’s uniform for the day. The use of the ’76 throwback coincided with a giveaway of 20,000 such jerseys Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Other upcoming White Sox promotions include Retro Batting Practice Pullover, Elvis Night, Southpaw Star Wars Bobblehead, Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day and Bark at the Park. It was unclear, as of press time, how Sale felt about batting practice, The King, stormtroopers, green beer or dogs.
Whether future promotions are a problem could have as much to do with competitors as it does the White Sox. Chicago continues to engage in trade discussions about Sale, hopeful the incident will not affect his value.
“Right now, in the major leagues, we’ve got dopers, domestic abusers, homophobes, misogynists and even a guy who spent time in prison for a DUI hit-and-run,” one executive said. “But a uniform vandal? Dammit, we have to draw the line somewhere.”
The White Sox could hold on to Sale, whom they drafted in 2010, promoted to the big leagues two months later and have seen flourish ever since. He is the longest-tenured White Sox player and just a few months ago was part of an incredibly rare promotional event: a bobblehead that actually looks like the athlete it’s trying to portray.
This bought Sale no goodwill with the White Sox’s promotions department. The unfortunate coincidence of his turn in the rotation and the spread-collared uniform’s return to reality led to garment murder. The White Sox instead wore their 1983 throwback uniforms, which Sale has worn, along with the togs of the Chicago American Giants on Negro Leagues Weekend.
Sale’s search for workplace leisure has long been the goal of American employers. Despite baseball teams providing meals, snacks and plenty of other amenities, similar to the finest technology companies, Major League Baseball teams continue to insist on players wearing uniforms the teams provide.
“That will not change,” a league spokesman said.
What the incident could birth, then, is a revolution, a mobilization of 750 men who make millions of dollars a year against the scourge that is uncomfortable clothing. In an election year, there may be no greater swing issue than the one that transcends party, not to mention sex, race and socioeconomic status: To cut or not to cut?
Shakespeare could not have dreamt up something as tragic as those uniforms, and Sale ensured each was given a swift death. They perished martyrs at the hands of a man some call insubordinate and others a sartorial liberator.
Not up for debate is the impact of the incident. In the midst of trade season, with fewer than 10 days to go before the deadline, Sale hijacked the sport for an evening by taking a stand. He refused to wear a shirt.
Babe Ruth’s called shot. Jackie Robinson breaking the color line. Chris Sale cutting up the White Sox’s uniforms. Baseball at its finest.