Boston.com reports that Chris Sale, starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, was suspended on Saturday because of a violent outburst in the team’s clubhouse that resulted in several expensive throwback jerseys being destroyed with a knife.
Chris Sale was scheduled to start Saturday’s game against the Detroit Tigers. White Sox fans were happy about the start, too, since his 2016 season has been fairly dominant. Baseball Reference shows he is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 19 starts this year.
Sale himself was not quite so happy, though, when he learned about the throwback 1976 Chicago White Sox jerseys the team was scheduled to wear that game for the park’s promotional heritage day.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura would later reveal, relays The Chicago Tribune, that pitchers usually get to pick out the jerseys their team will wear during games which the pitcher starts, but promotional “themed days” are an exception.
Chris Sale apparently did not agree with this policy. Once he got a look at the navy blue, high-collared, v-necked jerseys the team was to wear during the game, which was to be played in hot and humid weather, he took matters into his own hands to make sure the team-appointed jerseys were destroyed. To be more specific, he picked up a knife, headed into the locker room, and began to slash the vintage jerseys to shreds, despite his teammates’ attempts to dissuade him from doing so.
Obviously, the White Sox management found out quickly about the jerseys Sale had destroyed and were not at all happy about it, and Ventura says he was informed about Sale’s destroyed jerseys incident about two hours before the game was scheduled to start. He immediately decided that Sale was being scratched from that night’s lineup and that the team would have to string together performances by relief pitchers to get through the game. Since the 1976 jerseys were no longer an option, the team would have to don 1983 throwback jerseys instead.
Chicago’s fans were not informed Sale would not be starting until 30 minutes before first pitch, and, as noted by the Boston.com piece, they were not happy about it. Reportedly, there were great boos from the crowd when Sale’s suspension was announced over the stadium’s PA. Luckily, though, the relievers filling in for Sale did a bang-up job of handling the Tigers, allowing three runs, only one of which was earned, over the game’s nine innings. The final score was Chicago 4, Detroit 3.
Ventura would later say that Sale’s genocide of the jerseys had been over-entitled and immature.
“Everybody wears a uniform that they don’t necessarily like, but you wear it. If you want to rip it after, you can rip it up after. I’ve seen guys rip it up after.”
In general, though, the reactions from the White Sox administration was not nearly as severe as one might expect after a player destroyed jerseys that would have easily retailed at the team store for $100 a piece. In fact, the majority of the statements from Sale’s teammates and coaches included in reports seem to shy away from saying anything overtly negative about Sale’s outburst, perhaps because he is a very strong team presence the White Sox cannot afford to alienate before the playoff stretch.
White Sox GM Rick Hanh claims that he is not even sure the outburst in which he calculatingly destroyed several jerseys was Sale’s fault at all; it may have been unavoidable.
“Could there have been better communication before he took the actions he did… would that have changed anything? I don’t know,” Hanh remarked, continuing that Sale may have destroyed the jerseys simply because he is a man of great passion; a quality that could really help him in the final months of the season.
“Part of what makes Chris great, part of what makes him elite, is his passion and commitment. We’ve seen that sometimes spill out from between the white lines. [Saturday] was one of those instances and it unfortunately led to events that required discipline,” he said.
Sale’s teammates were also supportive, with Chicago third baseman Todd Frazier adding that the jerseys incident had just been a small hiccup; the team should just move on.
“You’ve just got to be professional and play baseball. That’s it,” Frazier said.
“Control what you can control, that’s playing the game.”
In the time since Sale destroyed the jerseys and was scratched from the lineup, it has been announced that he will have to face a five-game suspension and pay an undisclosed fine, a punishment decided upon by Hanh along with several other members of the White Sox clubhouse. Accordingly, Sale will be able to make his next start in Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs – presumably in the team’s standard jerseys. Whether or not he will have to pay for the destroyed jerseys is yet to be announced.
According to reports, Sale stood by his decision after destroying the jerseys and remains unapologetic.
[Photo by Paul Beaty/AP Images]