By now you’ve likely heard about the story surrounding Chicago White Sox player Adam LaRoche, who decided to retire earlier this week after his employer told him that his 14-year-old son would have to spend less time in the clubhouse this season. LaRoche was not pleased. He was so upset, in fact, that he’s leaving $13 million on the table this year.
First of all, much respect to LaRoche. Regular readers of the Working Dad know how much we value the father-son dynamic, and it’s clear LaRoche has a remarkable bond with his son, Drake. It really is fantastic. Nobody is knocking that relationship at all.
That said, LaRoche is in the wrong here. And so are White Sox players, who reportedly considered not playing in Wednesday’s spring training game in support of their former teammate. The players were so upset that pitcher Chris Sale reportedly screamed at team executive VP Ken Williams during a meeting. So it’s clear that Drake’s presence wasn’t a huge concern to the team.
But it was a growing concern for the general manager, who has every right to make this decision. The team is paying LaRoche $13 million to play baseball, after all. If that team wants to limit — not ban — kids from being in the clubhouse on a daily basis, that doesn’t seem unreasonable at all. After all, there aren’t many occupations where dads can bring their kids with them to work every single day. Why should baseball be any different?
Williams is getting a lot of criticism for his position, but he seemed awfully fair in this statement:
“There has been no policy change with regard to allowance of kids in the clubhouse, on the field, the back fields during spring training,” Williams told reporters. “This young man that we’re talking about, Drake — everyone loves this young man. In no way do I want this to be about him.
“I asked Adam, said, ‘Listen, our focus, our interest, our desire this year is to make sure we give ourselves every opportunity to focus on a daily basis on getting better. All I’m asking you to do with regard to bringing your kid to the ballpark is dial it back.’
“I don’t think he should be here 100 percent of the time. And he has been here 100 percent, every day, in the clubhouse. I said that I don’t even think he should be here 50 percent of the time. Figure it out, somewhere in between.
“We all think his kid is a great young man. I just felt it should not be every day, that’s all. You tell me, where in this country can you bring your child to work every day?”
Seems perfectly reasonable. We wish LaRoche the best and respect his decision, but there’s no reason to make the White Sox the bad guys here. Not at all.