By now I think we’ve all seen the Adam LaRoche story. Short version: Chicago president Kenny Williams asked LaRoche to not have his kid at the clubhouse every day and LaRoche retired instead of agreeing to Williams’ terms.
Is there more to this story? Oooh yeah. Read this deadspin.com piece, which has a ton of tweets from MLB reporters Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal (basically two of the most respected and connected guys covering the game today, in case you doubt a story at deadspin). My take-aways:
- LaRoche had it IN HIS CONTRACT that he could bring his kid to the ballpark every day.
- The kid had his own frigging locker and (as he did in Washington) did “clubhouse attendant” stuff to earn his keep.
- The players supported LaRoche, except for some apparent unnamed anonymous players who allegedly complained to Williams as reported in this link.
- Except that those un-named players apparently were too afraid to voice their opinion as the team threatened to boycott games the next day.
- The players, the GM and the Manager all disagreed with the decision.
- As is noted in the deadspin piece, reports from the meeting the players had with the President were perhaps the most angry I’ve ever read of a team being with its management. Its not every day where a player like Chris Sale tells his boss’ boss’ boss to “get the f*ck out of the clubhouse and don’t come back.”
I think Williams continued a sh*tty tradition of tone-deaf management out of the Chicago White Sox, whose owner Jerry Reinsdorf was the leading voice in pushing for limiting amateur bonuses in the last CBA in order to save a buck. LaRoche hit .217 last year and was owed $13M this year: if LaRoche hit .290 with 30 homers last year do you still think Williams would have done what he did?
You may say (as others like noted “get off my lawn” dinosaur Bob Nightengale) something like “who else gets to take their kid to work every day?” And you’d be right … except that nobody reading this works for a major league baseball club. How often have you heard players say that “its different” being in a clubhouse than being in an office? Do you agree? I do; this isn’t a normal work place. MLB teams already HAVE kids around every day; they’re called bat boys. So what’s the real difference here? Its ok for a bat boy to be with the team for 6 straight months but not ok for a player’s son? These aren’t “workers” as much as they’re “entertainers” and the concept of a “workplace” isn’t exactly the same. The Nats built a day care center so their wives and kids could come to the games, and that’s good business.
Furthermore, there’s this: these guys constantly talk about being “a family” when talking about the team chemistry. That’s because they basically spend 10-12 hours a day for 7 straight months together. Working together, living together, showering together, traveling together and eating together. Is it that big of a stretch to hear about people’s kids being at the games? How many times have you read about kids being at ball parks in your life? A hundred? More?
The timing of this is also ridiculous; leave out for a moment that LaRoche’s contract stated he could bring his kid to the clubhouse (the kid had his OWN LOCKER!) and leaving out the point that LaRoche is a union guy (can you say player grievance coming?). Why would Williams choose to have this fight 4 weeks into spring training? If it was really that big of a deal, why not address it in the off-season? I mean, can you imagine being a White Sox fan right now? How does this situation make the White Sox better, in any conceivable way, for the season that starts in two weeks? Now you have a near player mutiny, a popular veteran quitting out of principle, and you probably have more than a few players demanding to be traded. Great way to prepare for the season!
If I’m the owner of the White Sox I fire Williams today and beg LaRoche to come back; its the only way he has a shot of salvaging the 2016 season. I mean, the goal of the game is to win, and for me the only way to “fix” the massive clubhouse issue they’ve needlessly introduced is to get rid of the guy who caused it. Of course, maybe he doesn’t give a sh*t; his season tickets are sold and he’s raking in Chicago RSN money irrespective of whether his team wins 90 games or loses 90. Welcome to modern baseball ownership, where tanking is a-OK, nobody has to show their books and billionaire owners keep making more and more money every year.
Good times ahead on the South Side!