Adam LaRoche, the Chicago White Sox’s First Baseman and Designated Hitter, has reportedly retired. Nobody saw it coming. Here’s why:
According to ESPN, “LaRoche had asked after signing with the White Sox last winter if Drake [his 14 year-old son] could have clubhouse access, and that request was granted by White Sox manager Robin Ventura. Drake not only had his own uniform and spring training locker last year, but also had a locker in the White Sox clubhouse during the regular season”.
It was also noted that, “at no point did Drake appear to be a distraction last season, and was in fact a welcome addition to the group. He played video games with players pregame, shagged balls during batting practice and was not one to draw attention to himself in the clubhouse, respecting the players’ space”.
So, what changed?
The White Sox asked LaRoche to limit Drake’s time with the team.
From what I’ve heard on the Today Show this morning, Drake went with his father to all the games, and became became the unofficial “26th Man”. Some, however, became tired with his son in the clubhouse and locker room. Apparently, some of the players met with White Sox officials to discuss this.
When the Sox asked LaRoche to dial back his son’s participation, LaRoche didn’t take it too well. With one year and 13 million dollars left on his contract, LaRoche decided to retire a little early.
The question is, who’s right?
I’m going to present both sides of the case here, and let you decide on your own. I am not going to force you to think a certain side (in other words, I’m not a politician).
In the same ESPN article mentioned above, “in LaRoche’s defense, he also grew up as a kid in major league clubhouses. His father, Dave LaRoche, was a pitcher for 14 seasons, most notably six with the California Angels. So he knew from firsthand experience how valuable time in a major league clubhouse can be”.
Drake seems to participate in a sort of homeschooling mixed in with traditional schooling, according to ESPN. This allowed him to participate in clubhouse activities.
In LaRoche’s mind, I don’t think he sees his career as work, which I think is important. Which I think is cool. Your job is best when you enjoy it. He may think that, because it’s not work, he can bring his son wherever he wants, as his father of course. But when somebody tried to tinker with what he thought, things obviously did not go well. It’s that way with any man.
Many players stand with LaRoche and see no reason why Drake can’t be in the clubhouse, calling baseball a “family first” game. Some even threatened to boycott yesterday’s Spring Training game.
White Sox’s Case:
This is where things get tricky. To the White Sox management, I think they view this as work. This is very key. In their minds, they’re probably saying, “in this contract, this guy gives us quality work, and his gives his complete focus on his work, in exchange for millions of dollars”. That’s how a business works. The White Sox are nothing but a business that wants to make money. Their way of making money, is by winning. When they don’t win, time is wasted. Especially with the moves the White Sox made over the offseason, with the additions of Todd Frazier and Alex Avila.
Because the White Sox has the “work” mentality (that’s what I call it), they may see Drake as a distraction to some players. Again, they’re trying to win. So if there’s a distraction, as a business they’re going to try to figure things out, for what they think is best for the team.
While other MLB players bring their children to their clubhouse, including Ranger Prince Fielder and Tiger Victor Martinez, they do not bring their children to the clubhouse everyday as LaRoche did.
Up to you, the reader. You are the jury. Do you think that LaRoche is right to keep his son in the clubhouse, or are the White Sox right by trying to reduce his son’s time with the players? Please let us know in the poll below, and feel free to add any additional comments to this post!