By James Tehrani
Mar. 16, 2016
Photo of Adam LaRoche courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
When Adam LaRoche came to the Chicago White Sox last season as a free agent, there were high expectation that the slugger would have a great year in hitter friendly U.S. Cellular Field.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, LaRoche had arguably his worst season in baseball. He hit only a dozen home runs, and he struck out about 27 percent of the time in an injury-plagued season.
And now, in my opinion, he’s struck out again.
At 36 years old, LaRoche is considered an older baseball player, but in the “real world” he’d be just entering the prime years of his career.
The White Sox designated hitter/first baseman abruptly told the team that he is retiring. It’s being reported that he is upset that management asked him to “dial back” the amount of time his son was around the locker room as the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh relayed on Twitter. White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams also told Haugh, “I hope nobody says he’s [LaRoche’s son] a distraction because he’s a quality kid.”
I definitely applaud LaRoche for being willing to throw away $13 million (what he was owed for the second year of a two-year contract) for something he feels strongly about. I completely understand his devotion to his family and how important it is to him to have his son around.
LaRoche tweeted: “Thank u Lord for the game of baseball giving me more than I ever deserved!” #FamilyFirst.”
LaRoche has also said he’d take a couple of days to think about his decision before making a final commitment, but it seems likely he’s retiring at this point.
At first blush, this sounds like a terrible, unfriendly decision by the White Sox in not letting LaRoche bring his kid to work. Where is the harm in letting his son hang around the team?
But it’s not a bad decision.
Full disclosure: As a diehard White Sox fan, I certainly know that the team has made some really bad decisions in the past. Twenty-three years later, I still haven’t forgotten how the team released Carlton Fisk, one of my favorite players of all time, right after he broke the record for games played as a catcher.
That said, I agree with the White Sox’s logic here.
This is work. This is a work environment, and sometimes management has to make rules that are unpopular because it feels it’s in the best interests of the organization. How can you not understand the need to avoid distractions?
Can you imagine if every player brought his kids to work every day? It would be a zoo and a distraction no matter how well-behaved the kids are. And, guess what, not every kid is mature, so how can you tell one player he can bring his kid and another not to?
In this case, the White Sox did not tell LaRoche his son couldn’t come into the clubhouse — only not as often. It seems like a reasonable request.
Major League Baseball players make a lot of money. They also sign contracts guaranteeing pay and certain amenities that most employees do not get, but they are still employees who need to follow management’s rules.
As long as it’s a safe environment, I do think companies should allow employees to bring kids to work on rare occasions, but more than once in a while is too much.
LaRoche has every right to walk away from the game he loves, but unfortunately he’s walking away for the wrong reason if that's the only reason.
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