Heading into the 2016 Major League Baseball season, the Chicago White Sox organization is in chaos following first baseman Adam LaRoche’s decision to retire. The 36-year-old immediately resigned after Executive Vice President Kenny Williams told him he couldn’t regularly bring his 14-year-old son into the clubhouse.
The infielder walked away from a staggering $13 million left on his two-year contract. He was heading into the upcoming term hoping to put an atrocious 2015 campaign behind him.
It was settled upon his arrival that his son, Drake, could hang around LaRoche and the guys. Having Drake part of the package was a necessity dating back to his time with the Washington Nationals. The left-handed power hitter would not have signed if it weren’t for that arrangement.
Drake was a familiar face in the Chicago locker room. He was around for roughly 120 games in 2015. For a baseball season that spans from April to September, Drake barely went to school. The young teen would do homework on the road. Oddly, he had his own locker next to his old man. LaRoche referred to his young lad last season in a Chicago Tribune article as the “26th man.”
I wish I were kidding. The fact is we are talking about a professional ball club here. This so-called “26th man” didn’t help the White Sox cause last year. The team finished with a 76-86 record and placed 4th in the American League Central.
Moreover, Williams received personal complaints from staff members and other players who weren’t specified before confronting LaRoche about the matter.
Suddenly, Williams is the bad guy for wanting to fix the issue. He told USA TODAY Sports he didn’t want the guys having any outside distractions. Rightfully so, he mentioned bringing family members to work everyday is uncommon in any business.
Williams is exactly right. In workplaces across the country, there is a “Take Your Kids to Work Day” once a year for a reason.
A sacrifice parents make when working away from home is letting their children grow in an educational environment. Let’s face it: Drake should have been in school receiving an education and making new friends instead of chewing Sunflower seeds with his father and a bunch of professional jocks at the baseball diamond- as cool as that sounds.
Some South Siders are livid with management. The optimistic, relaxed continuity that once surrounded the clubhouse is nowhere to be found. On Tuesday, several players threatened to boycott the team’s Cactus League game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes- a Cactus League game. Nonetheless, they still played.
Ace pitcher Chris Sale is enraged with the front office, pointing out Williams is the epitome for all the madness. Sale feels wrongfully guided by Williams. He didn’t hold anything back when he talked to reporters, accusing Williams of “bold-faced lies.”
To show his support for the 15-year veteran and his kid, Sale hung up two jerseys at his locker in their honor. Drake signed the two jerseys. One jersey said, “To Chris: Thanks for taking care of me.” It’s clear Sale enjoyed Drake’s presence and respected him dearly.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 18, 2016
Center fielder Adam Eaton accompanied Sale in expressing distraught by contacting the MLB Players’ Union. As if the situation wasn’t even more out of hand, Eaton told USA TODAY Sports that he was planning on bringing his father into the clubhouse sometime, but now he feels it would be a bad idea. Plus, he reached out to LaRoche about filing a possible grievance.
Newcomer Alex Avila, who agreed to terms with the club over the offseason, also commented, suggesting that he didn’t believe any players would have complained about LaRoche’s son’s presence in the locker room.
A story like this is unheard of. With all due respect to LaRoche, the man is 36 years old, he was likely going to retire soon from what has been a lengthy career.
This soap opera is an unnecessary distraction that fans most likely won’t hear the end of. This ruckus drowns the healthy chemistry between the players and management. Who knows if the drama will ever come to a conclusion?
And the worst part is LaRoche won’t settle down. He posted an extended public statement on Twitter which says he fought for his beliefs.
Given the suddenness of my departure and the stir it has caused in both the media and the clubhouse, I feel (cont) https://t.co/xldpeJb1Ay
— Adam LaRoche (@e3laroche) March 18, 2016
“In life, we’re all faced with difficult decisions and will have a choice to make,” LaRoche stated. “Do we act based on the consequences, or do we act on what we know and believe in our hearts to be right? I choose the latter.”
Will this controversy deter the cohesiveness of this newly formed team who’s hoping to find its identity? We’ll see, starting April 4 at Oakland.