Being a father while being a big leaguer must be extremely difficult. You are effectively on the road nine months out of the year and often miss the formative years of your own children. That’s why we hear stories about how players like bringing their kids around whenever possible. There are the stories of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Barry Bonds hanging around their Dad’s clubhouses. There was Dusty Baker‘s son acting as the bat boy during the 2002 World Series. Now, we have the story of Adam LaRoche and his son Drake.
LaRoche has historically had his son hang around during Spring Training. His son would get his own locker allowing him to spend precious time with his dad. With LaRoche’s job as a baseball player, this is making up for lost time. After Spring Training is over, LaRoche is on the road the rest of the year. He goes from city to city. He plays night games and gets home late. This is his best chance to spend quality time with his son. While you normally can’t put a price on that, LaRoche did. He determined this was worth more than $13 million dollars.
Before signing with the White Sox last year, Robin Ventura told LaRoche he would have no problem with Drake hanging around the clubhouse. In fact, Drake had his own locker during the regular season so he could even join his dad during home games. At no time was Adam’s son a distraction.
“Drake is honestly one of the best kids I’ve ever met,’’ Sale said. “You can ask anybody, anybody, that’s ever played with Adam. I think that’s another part of the issue. We’re not talking about some guy and his kid. We’re talking about Adam LaRoche. Same thing with Drake.”
“This kid is wise beyond his years. He’s mature beyond his years. And quite honestly, he was a blast to have around. For lack of a better term, he was our team mascot. He brought just as much energy to this clubhouse as anybody. And it’s a hard pill to swallow for someone outside the clubhouse to tell us what’s going to happen.”
That didn’t prevent the White Sox front office from asking LaRoche to only bring his son around half the amount of time. Instead, LaRoche decided to retire. He would rather retire than spend less time with his son.
The front office decision did not sit well with the players. As Karl Ravech said on Mike & Mike this morning, the White Sox players threatened to boycott yesterday. They were not going to take the field for practice. They were not going to play in Spring Training games. It wasn’t until Robin Ventura interceded that the disgruntled players finally agreed to go out there for practice and play in Spring Training games.
“We were rolling,’’ Sale added. “We had positive energy in here. Nobody saw anything as a distraction until all this happened.
Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved!#FamilyFirst
— Adam LaRoche (@e3laroche) March 15, 2016
Every take I see is that there’s no bad guy in this situation. I disagree. When the players show a united front here, it’s the front office that’s the bad guy. We can have an honest debate as to whether children belong in the clubhouse at all. We can have an honest debate as to whether LaRoche’s son was in the clubhouse too frequently. However, the front office made a very poor decision here.
First, the front office caused the retirement of their first baseman. Second, it almost caused a team mutiny. Third, it undermined the manager who is in charge of the clubhouse. There is no scenario in which you can look at this decision and say it was the right decision.
Strange enough, the only good thing that arose from this situation was seeing how well Robin Ventura handled the situation. He kept control of the team and the clubhouse with an angry team on the verge of a boycott. He showed himself to be a strong leader who is respected by his team. Seeing this, maybe the front office should’ve allowed Ventura to handle this whole situation. They didn’t, and now they are down a first baseman.