I saw a headline last night on ESPN.com that made me laugh. "Alex Cora explains why what Chris Sale did was not acceptable." Allow me, not former major leaguer Alex Cora, explain to you why what Chris Sale did was not acceptable:
He is an adult.
This is not a shot at the ESPN headline writer or Cora or the producers of that show who said "well, we have to talk about this" because every single of of them is right. It just really doesn't take an expert. It's the most obvious thing in the entire world.
Sale cut up his team's throwback uniforms while his teammates took batting practice because he thought they were uncomfortable and didn't want to pitch in them. He thought the team was valuing marketing over winning.
Hey Chris Sale, you're being paid $9.5 million dollars to throw a baseball. You think that money grows on trees? This sport you play is a business, and that means trying to market it. Should that come at the expense of winning? No, but it's a uniform man. It's not like the time the White Sox had their players wear shorts. Yes, that really happened.
So even at this point, I could see siding with Sale. He's the team's ace and he didn't like the cut of the uniforms. Making him comfortable should be really important and trying to sell a throwback jersey isn't worth it if the uniforms don't fit. Saying that would've been the proper thing for Sale to do because, again, he's an adult.
Sale isn't so great at adult-ing though. He was extremely upset with the organization when Adam LaRoche didn't understand that every day couldn't be "bring your kid to work day" and wound up retiring because of it. LaRoche had that prerogative to decide to retire to spend more time with his son, but Sale getting upset about it was a joke. He's also had a number of other run-ins with management during his career.
So instead of talking to his manager like an adult, and asking for a change in uniform, an alteration or some other solution, he cut all of the uniforms up with scissors so that the team literally could not wear them. Imagine a grown man getting paid millions of dollars going through 25 lockers to cut up 25 jerseys.
Does he get two in and go "well, I guess I gotta do it now?" Why didn't he just cut up his own? That's some serious property destruction and some serious petulance.
We like to do this thing with sports where we pretend like it's not a real work place. Sometimes that's okay and accurate. The nature of sports is very different than a lot of other businesses, starting with the fact that the money is inverse of the power structure. Players report to coaches who report to front office people. Players make the most money, followed by coaches and then the front office people (outside of ownership). There is also the competitive side (many businesses are competitive, few actually keep score) and other differences, but the fact that they are professionals does indeed mean that pro athletes are part of a business.
What Sale did is unbecoming of a professional to an extreme degree. This is taking your company's presentation and ripping it up on the day of the meeting because you don't like it and to hell with what everyone else thinks.
Beyond that, it's just childish. Who throws a temper tantrum like that beyond the age of nine? When I was two I was a nightmare if I didn't get the color cup I wanted, and then I figured out the liquid tastes the same. Sale is 27!!!
Sale is thought to be on the trade market for an astronomical asking price. I have no idea if this effects his value (although I highly doubt it), but I would be very careful about bringing him into the wrong clubhouse with his history of immaturity. I can't flat out say I wouldn't want him because he's one of baseball's very best pitchers, and while what he did was extremely petulant, it does not rise to the level of the off-field concerns that can tarnish a franchise. More directly, this wasn't a case of domestic violence or some other crime that the person should probably be in jail for.
This was a misdemeanor for property destruction, and so if I had a locker room where his voice wouldn't mean anything and all he had to do was pitch, I'd take him so long that the price is right. In the end this story is more annoying and said than it is anything else. It's not maddening. It's not one that shakes you to your core. It's just annoying.
It's time for Chris Sale to grow up.