Logo for the DFR Audible post categoryThe Shirt Off His Back

Just got back from Disneyland, where, as you can imagine, retro uniforms are all the rage.

In the Chicago locker room when Chris Sale’s pitching …not so much.

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Chicago’s Chris Sale, in better sartorial circumstances.

A few things to say here:

First, whatever Sale may feel as an athlete aesthete, his tantrum was probably not just about the Sox’ throwback unis. Sale has shown in the past that he has a difficult streak in him, and that he’s not afraid to let it out. He was reported to be one of the Sox who was getting twitchy during the Adam LaRoche affair. And being a great pitcher on an otherwise mediocre team–and thus the subject of constant trade scrutiny–probably doesn’t soothe any jangled nerves either.

Having said that, I must say that Sale has a point on the direct object of contention, the throwback uniform. Nobody in his right mind wants to see–let alone wear–a replica of Chicago’s uniforms circa 1976. Even the ’83 unis are an abomination.

Remember, throwback uniforms came into their vogue in the ’90s, in the aftermath of the sartorial errors of the ’70s and ’80s. The whole idea was to bring back a look that hearkened back to better times–perhaps that should be “better” times–when everything about the game looked classic, including the togs the players wore. The throwback movement was a way of bringing the game’s former aesthetics back to a generation of fans (and players) who were long removed from the game’s putative golden age.

Now, of course, it’s about money. And there’s a reason that money has long been termed the root of all evil.

Any lunatic who thinks that players and fans should want to get nostalgic for the butt-ugly uniforms of the ’70s and ’80s has got to be money-addled. Back in the day, when clubs opted for pullover jerseys and stretchy double-knits–to say nothing of the White Sox and their, shall we say, flamboyant designs–they at least had the excuse of not knowing any better. But the mistake of the past has long since been acknowledged–by the throwback movement itself–and corrected. Why recapitulate the error all over again, but for the hope of suckering the stupid into parting more of their money for something wretched and undesirable?

So the motivation behind Chicago’s planned retro uniform night was founded in a negative desire. Hence, though his actions were inappropriate under normal circumstances, I give Sale a pass for taking the knife to his team’s jerseys. If someone in the front office had had the sense–or, heaven forfend, the dignity–not to try to pull that garbage, Sale’s insubordination would have never happened.

It’s really simple, folks: use good judgment, just stick to the basics, and realize that just because you can do something, it doesn’t automatically mean you should. That goes for management as well as the players.

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