Ben Zobrist meets with MLB, hopeful problem with cleats is over

ByJesse Rogers ESPN logo
Thursday, May 17, 2018

ATLANTA -- Ben Zobrist's shoe scandalcould be coming to a close soon.

TheChicago Cubs veteran said he talked with Major League Baseball on Wednesday and came away hopeful there will be a favorable resolution after he was recently warned his cleats were not in color compliance.

"I'm optimistic that the conversation will be had very quickly and we'll probably have a better solution for everybody soon," Zobrist said before the Cubs played the Braves on Wednesday night.

At issue is the rule which states at least 51 percent "of the exterior of each player's shoes be the club's designated primary shoe color."

Zobrist prefers wearing an all-black cleat at home games and took his case to Instagram after being warned he could be fined for noncompliance. According to Zobrist, the union and league don't mind some freedom, but a uniform rule was required when the sides collectively bargained the issue.

"Certain teams preferred a more uniform approach," Zobrist explained. "They had to come up with a consensus that they were going to, as a group, enforce. Players didn't necessarily agree with that, but they had to write something.

"There are some people that maybe don't want there to be full freedom for players in regard to that. We have to get a consensus to arrive at a new rule, and structure, that allows us the flexibility that we all want."

Zobrist stressed the sides only discuss the issue as it relates to their cleats and not any other "accessories."

"If we can sit down and talk about this issue by itself, I think we can get something done pretty quickly," he said.

Zobrist was grateful MLB rules czar Joe Torre reached out and is confident that while the sides discuss the issue the league will tone down the warnings. Zobrist plans on wearing the black cleats in the Cubs' next homestand.

"We might have some freedom if there is some negotiation happening," he said. "It's become a very specific issue that we can probably get figured out quickly.

"I'm glad they reached out and we were able to have a great conversation about it. Everybody is on the same page in regards to wanting this to happen but there is red tape."

Zobrist isn't the only player who was warned by MLB. Cleveland Indians starter Mike Clevinger broke the 51 percent rule and said he would donate a potential fine to a worthy charity, if need be, but will continue to wear his shoes.

Related Video