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Meet a $30.5 million knucklehead

With due deference to Dayton Daily News colleague Brian Kollars, who nominates a “Knucklehead of the Week” each Sunday in our sports section, it’s my honor to place in nomination a candidate for sports “Knucklehead of the Year.”

His name is Chris Sale, a baseball pitcher whose credentials for this coveted recognition are, to borrow a word from a well-known candidate in another field, “huuuge.”

Sale is an employee of the Chicago White Sox, with whom he has a five-year, $30.5 million contract to throw high hard ones past the employees of other teams. He is, by all reports, very good at his job. Last Saturday, in fact, he was in position to become the first high hard one thrower this season to win his 15th game. Instead, he missed the game because he didn’t like the uniform he was asked to wear by his employers in exchange for their $30.5 million. (Baseball uniforms, it should be mentioned, are very important. Teams that wear uniforms with pinstripes on them win championships practically every year; teams that wear uniforms with caricatures of Native Americans on them, practically never.)

In this case, the uniforms Sale and his Chicago teammates were asked to wear were what is known as “throwbacks,” which are replicas of bygone uniforms intended to evoke memories of an era in which baseball players were not pumping themselves full of chemicals. Or, at least, not getting caught at it. Specifically, it was described as “a 1976 leisure suit with untucked jerseys and disco collars.” Not exactly Ralph Lauren, but probably suitable enough for sliding into the dirt at second base or rolling around in the outfield grass.

But in what apparently is a baseball tradition, a pitcher is permitted to approve which uniform will be worn on the day he is the starter. For this start, Sale disapproved because the uniform of the day was “uncomfortable”. He disapproved so strongly that, before the game, he took out a knife and cut his to shreds. In case his employers didn’t catch his drift, he then disapproved several more times by shredding many of his teammates’ uniforms. (Why a baseball pitcher brings a knife to work has yet to be explained, but perhaps he whittles in the dugout between innings).

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Fortunately, others uniforms were available, so White Sox fans missed a chance to see their heroes playing in their underwear. Not that it mattered to Sale. He was suspended for the game and sent home, presumably with a note from the principal.

For $30.5 million, I suspect, even the most manly of men would be happy to appear in public wearing a pink tutu. But, surprisingly, Sale’s tantrum drew support from some fans, who praised him for “standing up for his rights” as well as for his sense of style.

“I don’t blame him,” one posted. “Those throwup uniforms were ugly back in 1976.”

“Good for Sale,” another said. “The uniforms are a disgrace.”

Most, though, agreed with the poster who wrote, “Uncomfortable? He should try pitching in a Burger King uniform.” They used words such as” crybaby,” spoiled brat” and “mentally ill.”

All good words.

But I’m sticking with “knucklehead.”

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