Thursday, July 28, 2016

Chris Sale: Right Idea, Wrong Subject

By Kevin Beane

I am consistently refreshed when I see athletes take a stand on a matter that directly relates to his team and sport, especially when it's a team sport athlete.

The dicta athletes are required to follow by their teams are pretty much the same across all sports and all teams: STFU and don't say anything anyone anywhere might disagree with. It's why post-game press conferences are so boring. They have a script to stick to, and they stick to it.

So hats off to Chris Sale for bucking the trend and, in apologizing for cutting up the throwback uniforms he didn't want to wear, made a compelling, reasonable case for why he disagreed with management. Furthermore, I too want to see teams put winning ahead of profits, at least when teams have the luxury of choosing between the two.

But, Sale is still wrong. Here's why:

"[The '76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in."

Why is "unorthodox" a problem? Especially since, as you said, whether or not the uniforms are ugly had nothing to do with it?

As far as uncomfortable goes, I can see how a player, especially a pitcher, could be adversely affected by discomfort. But didn't the White Sox wear these uniforms regularly for five years? And isn't one of the biggest components of making it as an athlete at the highest levels of their sport the ability to overcome adversity? If everything has to be perfect, doesn't that make you a prima donna?

And if comfort = wins and you will do everything to win, have you been lobbying to have the team dress in silk White Sox pajamas? Clothes do indeed get more comfortable than MLB uniforms.

"Our main focus should be winning. I know that every single player comes in ready to win every day. I can't speak on anybody else."

Didn't you unilaterally speak for everyone else when you cut up the jerseys?

"When I saw that there was something in the way of that 100 percent winning mentality, I had an issue. I tried to bring it up and say, 'Hey listen, these are my thoughts and concerns,' and they got pushed away because of the business deal that was set in place. I'll never understand why we need to do something on the business side on the field that might impede us winning a game."

Again, I am sympathetic to what Sale is saying here. But I don't believe he is looking far enough down the rabbit hole. Wearing throwback jerseys was indeed a business decision. Why was such a business decision made? Because fans like all manner of different jerseys, alternates, throwbacks, and so forth, and buy them up.

Is that a bad thing? No, of course not. This game exists for the fans. Owners should be doing everything they reasonably can do for the fans; the fans are why players are able to get paid 7 figures in the first place. This wouldn't be a viable business if no one cared (this is the second column in a row I am making this point).

And before you say, "What fans want more than anything is to win," see my first point. If a collar or the material/fabric is going to be the difference between winning and losing, the problem is you.

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