No one would blame Chris Sale for being a bit on edge these days. He’s the source of near-constant rumors concerning the possibility that he may be traded from the only professional organization he has ever known. That has come along with a larger concession that the White Sox are selling and could potentially enter into lengthy rebuild.
Surely for Sale of all people, who has minced few words about his desire to pitch in the playoffs, it’s been a hard pivot from ostensibly competing for a playoff spot as recently as a week ago, and harder one from a 23-10 start that teased the idea that Sale was on the best team of his entire career.
And perhaps, with appropriate context, no one would blame him for being annoyed at being saddled with an uncomfortable and bizarre-looking jersey to wear for his start as part of a repeat of last year’s 1976 throwback promotion. It was scheduled before the beginning of the year, and Sale was the victim of chance, but it’s unsurprising he would lack the perspective to see it as much more than a hindrance to doing his job.
The second part of this tweet, at least, is understandable.
Sources say: Sale cut up throwbacks during batting practice. Upset that, in his view, PR and jersey sales were more important than winning.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 24, 2016
The 2016 team has been allowed to die on the vine by the front office, after entering the season with a below-median payroll and a roster with foreseeable holes. This is all deeply frustrating stuff.
Not a joke: Source says Sale blowup was because he didn’t want to wear throwbacks, so he cut the jerseys up so no one could wear them.
— Tommy Stokke (@StokkeTommy) July 23, 2016
But then here is this behavior that has no justification and cannot be rationalized. Slicing up not only his own jerseys, but those of his own teammates blend extreme petulance with outright disconcerting lunacy. It would be absolutely inexplicable from anyone, let alone someone with the seniority and prominence of Sale has with the organization.
Sale is a fiery, competitive individual prone to tantrums. There are maybe 25 players in baseball temperamental and irritable enough to do something like this, and yet somehow all of them but Sale have found a way to avoid it thus far.
The White Sox should suspend Sale. It doesn’t need to be some extreme length of time, or even beyond a single start. Not is it only the right thing to do, it won’t hurt them to do it. They have no immediate need to trade him right at this deadline, and he’s probably too good for it to matter that much to his value.
Some behavior is obviously unacceptable and ridiculous, some behavior merits a suspension automatically, but Sale is always exceptional, and has managed to blend both.
Lead Image Credit: Joe Nicholson // USA Today Sport Images