This has been an interesting week for the Chicago White Sox. No it has nothing to do with the fact that they have won two games in a row, nor does it have anything to do with Tyler Saladino (who?) hitting his third home run of the spring.
Many of you know that I am a very new father myself. Enjoying the love and bond of fatherhood for the first time in my life makes me see this story through new eyes.
I would love to be able to have a job that my little girl could sit by my side all day any day I wanted her to do so. Unfortunately, in my line of work, I don’t even think I have the option of asking for that kind of permission. However, we all know professional athletes are on a different level than the average human being, and they are all presented with different rights that the hard working, tax paying American citizen.
This is where part of the problem lays. LaRoche claims that he did ask for this permission and it was granted.
“Prior to signing with the White Sox, my first question to the club concerned my son’s ability to be a part of the team,” the Register Citizen reported LaRoche said via Twitter. “After some due diligence on the club’s part, we reached an agreement. The 2015 season presented no problems as far as Drake was concerned. (My bat and our record are another story!).
“With all of this in mind, we move toward the current situation which arose after White Sox VP Ken Williams recently advised me to significantly scale back the time that my son spent in the clubhouse. Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all.”
It seemed LaRoche made a decision on his own with no ill remorse. Let’s face reality. LaRoche’s career — a nice, steady one — was coming to its conclusion. Instead of fighting the pain of an aging back and diminishing skills, he chose family over baseball and at 36-years old, decided being a father was more important.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.
Chris Sale came out and publicly lambasted vice president Kenny Williams.
“This is a bigger issue than being told his son can’t be around. It’s a much deeper issue,” Sale said to the Register. “We got bold-faced lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust.
“He came to the players and said it was the coaches. He went to the coaches and said it was the players. Then he came in here and said it was the owner. If we are all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”
So what went from a mild in-house misunderstanding seemingly between LaRoche and Williams has spiraled to engulf the whole team with their star player at the forefront. Yesterday, The Score reported that Bob Nightengale of the USA Today heard first hand from “sources” that both players and coaches complained about Drake’s presence in the clubhouse.
Rumors were that Drake spent more than 120 games in the clubhouse last season. He had his own jersey, was known as the “26th man”, had his own locker next to his pops and was said to have helped out in clubhouse chores. All that stuff right there… that wasn’t afforded to Drake by his father. Adam did not create the locker, nor the jersey. This was stuff presented by the White Sox organization and it was a situation that they allowed to spiral out of control.
Kenny Williams has always been under scrutiny. Whether it be from sticking with Robin Ventura or big contract/ little production contracts or seemingly having no ability to draft a farm system, this is not the first time Williams has been negatively represented in the media by reporters or his own personnel. This situation is certainly not going to help issues.
So, the question arises, who is right?
LaRoche appears to have taken the upper road here, being the bigger man. It simply appears that he made his decision to walk away from the game, and when EVERYONE (media, his teammates, the White Sox front office) chimed in he made a statement on HIS Twitter page. It was professional and too the point, and didn’t really speak negatively or attack anyone.
However, let’s look at something else, shall we? LaRoche owns a steak house. If you look at their Twitter page — while they haven’t issued a formal statement — they have been retweeting all of the negative tweets about Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Could it be co-owners Jake and Adam Gross? Sure, but you would have to assume LaRoche has taken notice by now and if he wanted to remain completely professional on the outside looking in, he would have asked them to cease by now.
Now, Williams is right to address the issue. It’s happened before — most notably when Billy Martin told Ken Griffey, Sr. his kid Junior wasn’t allowed around the clubhouse — but it was also the way that it went down. It was an agreement LaRoche and the White Sox brass had, and it was an awful agreement.
It is reported that their was nothing in a contract that agreed to these terms that allowed Drake to essentially become part of the team, and that it was a handshake or a gentlemen’s agreement. I know playing baseball is one of the most fun jobs on the planet, but it is a job.
How the White Sox didn’t set strict guidelines right off the bat is outrageous. Could you imagine signing a contract for employment without any mention of sick/personal days? Wouldn’t you just take off every Friday or Monday if their were no limitations? This is the same type of thing. LaRoche wanted his kid to come to the clubhouse, and he was going to bring him how often he wanted to because that was what he was told he could do.
Now, the other thing I don’t like about this situation is how people are judging LaRoche’s parenting from this ordeal. No offense people, but it’s none of your business. This isn’t a situation that has anything to do with abuse or what kind of education Drake is getting. This isn’t about calling into question what kind of father LaRoche is. You could substitute Drake with the LaRoche family dog, and the situation doesn’t change. There was simply poor communication throughout the entire organization and now a team that needs focus is a complete dumpster fire.
I don’t fault the White Sox for their decision. I fault them for allowing it to get to the point it did, and how they made the decision. If Chris Sale is correct is his assertions, than throwing everyone under the bus in the organization is not going to bring this team together.
So, no, I don’t think LaRoche is wrong. He wasn’t going to be an effective player anymore, which I think helped White Sox fans be more accepting of his plight. If this was Jose Abreu, it would be another story. I really don’t think the White Sox brass are as bad as they are being made out to be either , because at the end of the day, it was a decision that needed to be made.
Unfortunately for them any time a child comes into question, the end result is going to be a whirlwind. And usually… not a good one.