In case you somehow haven't heard, Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale did probably the strangest thing any MLB player has done at a ballpark in recent memory Saturday: cutting up throwback jerseys because he didn't feel comfortable in them. The team scratched Sale from his start and sent him home from the ballpark, and on Monday suspended him for five games.
Sale finally got his perspective out there Monday, in an interview with MLB.com's Scott Merkin. He did, at one point, express regret that he wasn't able to help his team.
"I have regret, because I play 33 times a year at most in the regular season," Sale told Merkin. "So I put a lot of emphasis on when I play and I take a lot of pride in work that I do. "When I can't or don't do that, yeah, I have disappointment in myself for not being there for my guys."
But there's so much more to this story than Sale and those jerseys and a knife. Throughout the "apology," Sale stressed that his main priority is winning, and that he felt the 1976 throwback jerseys would negatively affect him on the mound.
"[The '76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox," Sale said in the interview. "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. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing."
So he complained to manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper, but neither relented, which caused Sale to get desperate. Eventually, the team donned the white/black/red 1983 throwbacks, which Sale has happily worn in the past, but it was Matt Albers on the hill. Sale, who has feuded with Ventura in the past, believes his manager didn't act in the players' best interests.
"Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department," Sale told Merkin. "If the players don't feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix -- it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that's when I lost it."
Merkin also spoke with Ventura, who disagreed with Sale's comments.
"I didn't put promotion in front of winning," Ventura said. "But I think we all have things that we have to do. There has to be a line somewhere, and that's what ended up happening."
This is the same Chicago squad that endured the Adam LaRoche fiasco in spring training earlier this year, then had the AL's best record in mid-May, then stumbled, then acquired James Shields but kept stumbling. The White Sox are 49-50, 8 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central and 6.5 back in the Wild Card race. They probably won't trade Sale, because he has a hilariously team-friendly contract that runs through 2019 and because other teams are less likely to meet a sky-high asking price if the star in question cuts up team uniforms.
Chris Sale knows he hurt his team, and he regrets doing so, but he remains adamant that the White Sox didn't put winning first in this situation. So while he may have apoloziged, he was far from apologetic. The saga continues.