Chris Sale cut up his clothes to save face.
The Chicago White Sox wanted players to wear their 1976 collared jerseys. Sale didn’t. Saturday’s starting pitcher didn’t let the team don the distinctive blue-collared pullovers, so the White Sox didn’t let him pitch.
“Chris Sale has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start and sent home from the ballpark by the White Sox due to a clubhouse incident before the game,” the team announced in a cryptic statement. “The incident, which was non-physical in nature, currently is under further investigation by the club. The White Sox will have no additional comment until the investigation is completed.”
The organization prematurely tweeted an image of their team sporting the throwbacks and a starting roster that listed Sale as the pitcher:
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 23, 2016
The incident, according to TodaysKnuckleball.com, involved Sale literally slicing up the team’s special uniforms so players couldn’t wear them. A source told the site, “He cut every jersey up.”
The club losing eight of their last nine and playing ten games behind the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians likely heightened the fashion fascist’s frustrations. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the lefty described the franchise as more concerned with marketing gimmick jerseys than with winning games and that he found the pullovers uncomfortable to wear.
Many White Sox fans found the uniforms uncomfortable to look at, particularly when coupled with softball-style shorts, back in the 1970s.
The White Sox instead wore their red, white, and blue Harold Baines/Carlton Fisk/Ron Kittle-era uniforms at home against the Detroit Tigers. Fans didn’t particularly care for those duds, either. Sporting News included them among the worst uniforms in baseball history. “The number on the pants, the garish red shoes,” Phil Hecken wrote. “It’s too much.”
In 1976, the Chicago White Sox were nearly laughed off the field when they wore Bermuda shorts to the game. pic.twitter.com/oKONUXmptC
— Google Facts (@GoogleFacts) July 23, 2016
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 22, 2016
The Sox preparing to wear the 1976 gear came as part of a planned giveaway of replica jerseys to the first 20,000 attendees. Despite hovering around .500 and playing in one of America’s biggest media markets, the White Sox register anemic attendance this season, averaging 21,983 fans a game—good (bad?) for fifth worst in the majors.
Sale remains the subject of trade talks despite (or because of) his 14-3 record and 3.18 ERA. He clashed with management earlier this year by hanging an Adam LaRoche jersey in his locker after the first baseman retired because the front office sought to limit his son’s access to the locker room. The American League’s All-Star Game starter also smashed a baseball against his head in May. “When I get mad I feel like hurting myself,” the pitcher told the press after twice intentionally beaning himself. “I don’t get it. That’s the immaturity part coming out. I have to get over some things.”
The White Sox could have used him against Detroit. Saturday’s game that began with an unexpected pitching change ended with an unusual outcome: a tie. The Tigers and White Sox resume their 3-3 affair, suspended because of rain in the top of the ninth, at 1:10 p.m. Central, just the right time for Chris Sale to step in and pick up his MLB-leading fifteenth win.