When word got out that White Sox ace Chris Sale had cut up the team’s throwback uniforms because he found them uncomfortable, the response was universal: “He did what?!’’ English, Spanish, American Sign Language – it didn’t matter. Same reaction: What the …?
It was one of the strangest sports stories ever, and that’s not hyperbole. As outsized as the bizarreness was, though, it did continue the tradition of Chicago’s biggest names acting – let’s be nice – very, very human.
There have been enough feet of clay around here to form another Terra Cotta Army. And there have been enough odd ducks to form a flock.
Jay Cutler. Brandon Marshall.
Carlos Zambrano. Sammy Sosa.
And let’s not forget Brian Urlacher’s Paris Hilton stage.
So Sale is not alone, just a cut above. In the event that anyone mistook that for another scissors pun, I’m sorry.
In Chicago, too often the Face of the Franchise is pouting, sticking his tongue out or apologizing for bad behavior. I’m not saying our best athletes should be as noble as Lou Gehrig, but is it something we said?
Rose owned the town, the Englewood kid made good, until he started saying dumb things – e.g., talking about preserving his body so that, after he retired, he wouldn’t be sore at business meetings. Let the record show that Rose was playing point guard for the Bulls at the time, not running black ops for Special Forces. He’s a Knick now. Let the record also show that since Jimmy Butler became the best player on the Bulls, he, too, has entered diva territory.
Cutler seems to have finally crawled out of the public-relations hole he dug for himself with uneven play and a persona that had the cuddliness of an electric eel. But remember the scowls? Remember when then-offensive coordinator Mike Tice sat down on the bench to talk with his upset quarterback and Jay immediately got up and walked away? Who does that? Our Guy does.
Carlos Zambrano was menace to Cutler’s poutiness. While the pitcher was with the Cubs, he punched out catcher Michael Barrett and beat a Gatorade dispenser with a bat. In separate incidents, but with the same gusto.
And Sammy was Sammy, corked and fuel-injected.
The current Cubs didn’t have anyone on the list until Aroldis Chapman arrived in town. He served a 30-game Major League Baseball suspension earlier this year for a domestic-violence incident that included firing a gun eight times in his garage. Cubs fans, who would cheer Charles Manson if he wore a Cubs uniform (“You can’t teach his brand of intensity!”), gave Chapman a standing ovation at Wrigley Field during his debut Wednesday. They haven’t sat down yet.
Kane has been well-behaved of late, perhaps because he has stayed away from his native Buffalo. It was there as a 20-year-old that he had a run-in with a cab driver, and it was there that he found himself in a huge mess involving sexual-assault allegations that never led to charges. Earlier in his career, a shirtless, drinking Kane also took a much-publicized limo ride with a few Blackhawks teammates and women in Vancouver, and the ensuing photo became an Internet sensation. So did photos of him partying during Cinco de Mayo in Madison, Wis. The image-conscious Hawks were not amused by any of it, but, after each incident, decided they might be able to coax something out of his hockey skills.
Thomas is in the Hall of Fame because he was a great hitter for the Sox, and he was a great hitter because he approached it with a single-mindedness that bordered on the obsessive. That, in turn, led to run-ins with teammates, managers and front-office people.
Until Sale’s uniform-cutting incident, I didn’t think the Adam LaRoche saga could be topped. The designated hitter retired from baseball during spring training because the Sox had asked him to cut back on bringing his 14-year-old son, Drake, into the clubhouse. Drake was there for most games, and, as odd as that sounds, it was even odder that Sox players rallied around the kid, with outfielder Adam Eaton calling him one of the team’s leaders. Sheesh. And, of course, Sale was right in the middle of that one, saying that vice president Ken Williams had lied to the team.
Then came Sale’s riches-to-rags story – somebody stop me! – and here we are, still rolling our eyes.
As it turns out, Hawks captain Jonathan Toews is the outlier, thanks to his gentlemanly demeanor and strong leadership qualities. Raising the question, what’s this guy’s problem?