Would You Quit Professional Baseball For Your Child?

On March 15, Adam LaRoche walked away from the Chicago White Sox on principle.  He walked away from the game he loved because upper management informed him that no longer could he bring his 14-year-old son to the White Sox clubhouse as often as he wanted.  White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams informed him that he had to limit the amount of time his home-schooled son Drake had to the club’s spring training activities.

As it turns out, Drake had been coming to his dad’s spring training back to his days with the Washington Nationals some five years ago without any issues with coaches, players or management having issues.  All that changed when Williams brought Drake’s presence in the clubhouse to the forefront as an issue.

So LaRoche made a decision that certainly doesn’t come easy for an athlete.  Choose the team and the pursuit of a championship or choose your family?

LaRoche chose his son and on March 18, 2016 White Sox pitcher Chris Sale walked to his locker room to find autographed Adam and Drake LaRoche jerseys hanging at Sale’s locker.

Adam decided to walk away but not before leaving his ace pitcher and supportive teammate a note – “Thanks for everything.  I’ll never forget you.”

For his part, Drake was just as gracious – “Chris, thank you for taking care of me.”

Sale took his case to Williams on behalf of LaRoche, because they felt that it was unfair, even taking it so far as to say Drake was part of team referencing his maturity and his appearance on the field during drills.

Adam doesn’t seem like the guy that wanted to cause a stir in the clubhouse however on March 18, he released a statement on Twitter where he talked about his retirement:

Over the last five years, with both the Nationals and the White Sox, I have been given the opportunity to have my son with me in the clubhouse. It is a privilege I have greatly valued. I have never taken it for granted, and I feel an enormous amount of gratitude toward both of those organizations.

Though I clearly indicated to both teams the importance of having my son with me, I also made clear that if there was ever a moment when a teammate, coach or manager was made to feel uncomfortable, then I would immediately address it. I realize that this is their office and their career, and it would not be fair to the team if anybody in the clubhouse was unhappy with the situation. Fortunately, that problem never developed. I’m not going to speak about my son Drake’s behavior, his manners, and the quality of person that he is, because everyone knows that I am biased. All of the statements from my teammates, past and present, should say enough. Those comments from all of the people who have interacted with Drake are a testimony to how he carries himself.

Prior to signing with the White Sox, my first question to the club concerned my son’s ability to be a part of the team. After some due diligence on the club’s part, we reached an agreement. The 2015 season presented no problems as far as Drake was concerned. (My bat and our record are another story!)

With all of this in mind, we move toward the current situation which arose after White Sox VP Ken Williams recently advised me to significantly scale back the time that my son spent in the clubhouse. Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all. Obviously, I expressed my displeasure toward this decision to alter the agreement we had reached before I signed with the White Sox. Upon doing so, I had to make a decision. Do I choose my teammates and my career? Or do I choose my family? The decision was easy, but in no way was it a reflection of how I feel about my teammates, manager, general manager or the club’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

The White Sox organization is full of people with strong values and solid character. My decision to walk away was simply the result of a fundamental disagreement between myself and Ken Williams.

 

Simply put, LaRoche directs the blame on Williams for breaking the contract AND trust that he came to with Williams and the White Sox.  If his play was suspect, which he no doubt discusses in his explanation, then go to him about that.  But it feels like the attempt was a dirty ploy.

Was this a dirty ploy to get $13 million that he was owed off the books?  Or was this a dirty ploy to get the players to rally together and hate management and play for each other in one of those “rah rah let’s win one for Adam and Drake” things?  If so, both are poorly thought out and really bad ideas.  The Major League Baseball Players Association is now getting involved and that can only bring some sort of bad publicity for the club as well.  One this is for certain, this won’t be good for Williams or club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

I can’t say for sure what I would do if I was in the same position as Adam LaRoche.  I would like to think I would give up my spot on an MLB team for my daughter.  If I was set money-wise like it seems LaRoche is and comfortable with my position in the game’s history.  If the club isn’t going to respect our agreement on bringing her to spring training and letting her be around, what else would they want to cut out of my contract?

Some may say that LaRoche quit on his teammates, but apparently they aren’t seeing how much he means to them.  Or maybe they don’t see the bigger picture, if the club is going to cut out its promises to one player to bring his son to spring training, a teenager who did nothing to disturb the club at all, then what else are they going to cut? Isn’t it like the owner of the Indians in the movie Major League, Rachel Phelps?  Phelps begins cutting luxuries from the Indians (hot water and a private jet for instance) in order to make the club lose so that they are less profitable and she can move them to Miami.  Who wants to play for someone like that?  Maybe Adam LaRoche was right?  If you had the choice what would you choose?

King Me

I hesitate to write this, much like the normal superstitions I’m starting to feel like maybe it’s not a bad thing to keep silent after Games 5 & 6.  But then again maybe the Rangers didn’t need luck, maybe it was that scary man in the mask between the pipes.

On a weekend when the first Atlantic tropical stormmade landfall, the Canadiens silenced the Thunder two straight games to crawl back to a 3-2 deficit, the Rangers stormed their way back into the series and tied it on Sunday night in Washington with a 4-3 win.  

On Friday night, King Henrik allowed only one goal in the Blueshirts 2-1 overtime win that they desperately had to have at the Garden.  Lundqvist stopped 28 of 29 shots, cementing himself between the pipes for the home squad.  It seems at times the Rangers give everything they can to block shots and dive in front of passes or break up whatever they can, they are giving up anything and everything for the cause.  I believe that’s what playoff hockey is all about right?  

Much has been made of the two goaltenders in the series, especially Holtby because he wasn’t expected to play as well as he has.  It’s forced the Rangers to maybe try too hard at times, play too cute passes or take the difficult shot.  But they’ve calmed down and gone back to their game, tried to reduce turnovers, put pucks on net and made Holtby work.

Ovechkin now says “we’re going to come back and win the series.”  It’s a bold, big mouthed prediction for a guy who seemed to have let his game talk for the most part in the series.  At times he did disappear and make it difficult for me to justify my feeling about him being a team player.  I don’t know that momentum exists, many times I think it’s just a made up word for a certain mindset.  I think for the most part any sporting event has an ebb and flow it’s about who takes advantage of the other teams’ mistakes.  

At this point the Rangers are doing just enough, and holding the Caps back from making their own advantages.  Some say “work hard and you shall be rewarded.”  Quite simply if you don’t give your all, go home and play golf.  The playoffs are gonna be tough, that’s the point but for the Rangers they have a King who trumps every card, he’s 13-3 since 2012 in the Stanley Cup playoffs in Game 7 elimination games.  Yeah Henrik’s got the Rangers going, another round another Game 7…Lets Go Rangers!