White Sox players seem to worry inordinately about things that have nothing to do with baseball. And, against all common sense, it seems to help them play better.
Pitcher Chris Sale is the team’s chief worrier, and in the immediate aftermath of his ribbon-cutting ceremony involving the 1976 throwback jerseys, the team went 4-0. Or, if you prefer, they went 4-2 after Sox players refused to pay the visiting clubhouse manager in Seattle, upset that part of the money would go in the Mariners’ corporate coffers.
And, of course, the Sox started the season 23-10 after Sale lost it when the team asked veteran Adam LaRoche not to bring his 14-year-old son to the ballpark so often – which is to say the team asked him not to bring his son to work every single day.
All of this is silly stuff, especially the uniform fiasco, though the Drake LaRoche controversy is a close second. I’ve made fun of Sale’s choice of causes, but it’s possible I underestimated a team’s need to have something to rally around. It’s possible that Sale could go on a hunger strike to protest the franchise’s sunflower-seed choice, and it would lead to a 10-game winning streak. Hey, don’t dismiss it out of hand.
Perhaps Sale is wired to be suspicious of management types. Perhaps he was the editor of the Daily Worker in a past life. Perhaps he wants to be traded. Or maybe he’s a little ticked that he’s playing under a very team-friendly contract that he signed before he became one of the best pitchers in baseball. Whatever the case, he always seems to need fuel for his fire.
There had to be Sox teammates who were upset with him for cutting up jerseys he said were uncomfortable. There had to be some who thought his snip-fit was something a child would do. But they have been playing better since he was sent home Saturday. That includes two victories over the Cubs, the team with the best record in baseball, at The Cell. He pitches tonight at Wrigley Field.
Why couldn’t Sale have come up with something bizarre to protest when the Sox were losing 16 of 26 games after their hot start? To ask is to risk crawling inside his head. And nobody wants to go there.