Sunday, March 20, 2016


There are three sides to every story: your side, their side and the truth.  If you are like me, you have been listening to both sides of the Adam LaRoche retirement story and are having difficulty deciphering the truth from all of the mouths talking. Let's see if I can give you the sides and let you determine what you feel is the truth.  I will give you my two cents too, for what it is worth.

What We Know as Truth: We know that Adam LaRoche has decided to retire from the game of baseball prior to the official start of the 2016 season.  His decision seems to have a connection to the statement made by the White Sox organization that LaRoche scale back the time his 14-year-old son, Drake, spends with his dad and the team this year.  Traditionally, LaRoche brought Drake to most of the Sox practices, games and Drake even kept a locker in the clubhouse and practice field.  White Sox officials and others in and around baseball say that his time with the team during his work hours was just too much.  Even Today Show hosts stated as they reported the LaRoche story that when they bring their kids to work, they worry if their presence is too much of an interference for the staff.  And we are only talking about a day or two, not every day.

The Players' Side of the Story:  "In his statement, LaRoche said that before he signed his two-year, $25 million contract with the Chicago White Sox last year, "my first question to the club concerned my [son Drake's] ability to be a part of the team. After some due diligence on the club's part, we reached an agreement" and there were no problems with his son's presence in the clubhouse in 2015," reported ESPN on Friday.  Then according to LaRoche and his teammates, White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams changed his tune.  First LaRoche was told to scale back the time Drake spends with the team and later he was directed to not bring his son to the ballpark at all. According to White Sox pitcher and former teammate to LaRoche Chris Sale, Williams changed his story multiple times, making it difficult to understand the reasoning behind the decision and ticking the team and other MLB players off along the way.

According to ESPN, "Sale said Williams has contradicted himself, first saying that players complained about LaRoche's son being in the clubhouse, then saying it was coaches who spoke against it, and then saying the decision came down from ownership."We got bald-faced lied to by someone that we trust," Sale said."

Club owner Jerry Reinsdorf may have a grievance on his hands come early next week.  Word on the street is that White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton told reporters that he spoke to the Major League Baseball Player's Union about filing a grievance on behalf of his former teammate LaRoche.

Reisndorf stated that players have asked to speak with him but it is too early to comment officially on the situation.  Bryce Harper, Robin Ventura and even the Chicago Bears all support LaRoche's "Family First" stance. Sox closer and former Yankee, David Robertson "thought of Drake as "part of the team" and said "the entire clubhouse is with Adam on this one."   

"I had to make a decision," LaRoche said. "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 (Robin Ventura), general manager (Rick Hahn) or the club's owner Jerry Reinsdorf."

White Sox Management Side of the Story:  As reported by ESPN on Thursday, "When news of the reason became public Wednesday, Williams addressed the issue with reporters and said that kids are still permitted in the White Sox clubhouse, but they shouldn't be there every day, saying no job would allow that."Sometimes you have to make decisions in this world that are unpopular," he said.  Now even LaRoche admitted that it has been a privilege to have his son with him as he played for both the White Sox and Washington Nationals over the last five years.  "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?" stated Williams.

My Take: My opinion represents dozens of others shared with me over the last several days.  I guess it stems from this statement made by LaRoche himself.  "It's like having your son and your best friend alongside you all day long, at work, which never gets to happen," LaRoche said. "I don't know many jobs where you can bring your kid and not have to put him in daycare somewhere. It's been awesome."  My daughter is 14 and my son is 18.  They both came with me to work from time to time as I worked on multiple university campuses over the years.  They came sometimes.  As Kenny Williams said to LaRoche, "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."  I agree.  Doesn't he need to be in school? Shouldn't he be socializing with kids his own age? My thought process is yes and yes.  I have had to pay babysitters and juggle schedules to figure out who was taking what kid to what practice or event and when.  Why should LaRoche get special treatment?  The Washington Post reported that Nationals phenom Bryce Harper "admired the father-son relationship between LaRoche and Drake. Sure, most jobs don’t allow employees to bring their children to the workplace daily. But most jobs don’t have their employees traveling and away from home as frequently as professional baseball players."  I beg to differ.

As parents, we have to make shifts and changes to our own schedules and the reality is we don't get to spend every waking moment with our kids.  It's not really healthy to do so either.  That's not to say we don't make sacrifices or make waves when we need to when it comes to our kids.  We most certainly do. We travel for work, some multiple days a month like ball players.  It is just a balance.  It's called work-life balance and at the end of the day, that's the real truth.

The reality is this story isn't going anywhere.  It is staying in the headlines because it is an issue that simply has not come up in the headlines before.  Guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Prince Fielder and Cal Ripken Jr. all spent many a day at the ballpark with their ball player fathers.  "Different teams have had different rules. Some clubs allowed kids in the clubhouse after Sunday games, provided they won."

And that's the bottom line.  There are rules.  And that is the truth too.  With the controversy just heating up, we will keep close ties on the LaRoche matter, a grievance if filed and any other official word from the team.  You can decide from here what you think is the right side to the LaRoche Saga.

--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
Twitter: @suzieprof

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