Storylines constantly consume the MLB around spring training time. For example, the Red Sox have been under the microscope at times, such as when Pablo ‘The Tank’ Sandoval showed up to spring training looking uncomfortably hefty, or when Hanley Ramirez showed up to play first base without a first baseman’s glove. But the biggest and most controversial story that’s circling the MLB news mill is the story of Adam LaRoche and his son, Drake.
Long story short, 36-year-old Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche decided to walk away from baseball and retire, leaving a cool $13 million on the table. The reason he gave was that the White Sox organization, in particular vice president Kenny Williams, told LaRoche that they wanted to significantly cut down the time that his son spent with the team on the road and in the clubhouse.
I understand why the decision was made. The team has been on the decline in recent years, coming off of back-to-back losing seasons, and the front office wants to establish a new culture. It doesn’t want the kid to be a distraction or a liability moving forward, I get where the logic was. Here’s where I have a problem: the whole situation was handled extremely poorly and the front office needs to be held accountable.
The whole thing is unbelievably shady to me: the timing, the decision and the aftermath is one giant dumpster fire. Things got heated when Chris Sale, the White Sox ace pitcher, sounded off on the White Sox organization when he said the players and himself “were bold-faced lied to,” referencing rumors that the players were told it was the coaches that were the ones complaining, and coaches were being told it was the players complaining. Somehow, despite these rumors, the entire team was ready to boycott the following game and still hang Adam’s (and Drake’s) White Sox jersey in the locker room. Also, it wasn’t a mutual decision; it appears, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal, that managers Kevin Hahn and Robin Ventura did not agree with Williams’s approach to the situation.
I don’t either, guys. Williams deliberately took matters into his own hands and ultimately said it without saying it that the kid needed to go. The kid was ultimately the deciding factor in LaRoche’s decision to leave the Nationals and sign with Chicago. According to a tweet from Dave Kaplan of CSN Chicago, Drake and Adam were a package deal, and Adam was not prepared to sign if they did not come to an agreement. It’s pretty disrespectful to go back on your word after all this time if you ask me.
There are also people out there that say LaRoche walked out on his teammates, that he was being overdramatic and didn’t care about the team enough to come to a compromise. Listen, family comes first and that’s what it came down to for Adam and Drake. What’s more important, spending time with family or finishing out your last couple years of baseball making money for a team that’s not even close to being a World Series contender?
If I were in the situation I would have done the same thing. It’s not worth losing that bond between father and son for a career that’s already past its prime, regardless of how bizarre and strange the situation may be.
So if you’re going to point a finger, don’t point it at Adam. Of course it’s unusual for a 14-year old kid to be constantly with a professional team he doesn’t play for. But I can’t say I blame LaRoche for his decision either. He chose family over baseball and I think it’s an admirable choice to make.