Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Adam LaRoche snafu

The Chicago White Sox -- and in particular GM Kenny Williams -- are absolutely right, you know. I'll get back to that.

As baseball fans have no doubt heard, Adam Laroche has, so far, decided to retire because he has been told to cut back on the access his 14 year old son Drake has with the team. Not that the kid has to go away entirely, mind you, just that he shouldn't be treated like he's an actual member of the ChiSox roster.

Allegedly some real members of the team quietly complained the kid was underfoot a bit too much, so Williams requested LaRoche to "dial it back" a little. Apparently outraged, the elder LaRoche would rather retire. That is certainly his choice, but a few other subplots have come into play.

A couple members of the team said it was wrong to deny a kid such full access, and even went so far as to say they considered young Drake -- all of 14 years old -- a team leader. Really? These highly paid baseball professionals look up to a ninth-grader for inspiration? Dang.

Of course, those that complained in the first place have to remain anonymous. If they "came out" the media and politically correcters would surely lambaste them as being "anti-child". Shame on them for -- horrors!! -- trying to keep the operations of a major league baseball franchise  -- um -- professional.

To be sure, there's nothing wrong with a parent taking their child to work. People in many walks of life have done it for a very long time. Mom or Dad wants Junior or Missy to see what goes on in the office, or fire station, or factory, or hospital, and a vast variety of other workplaces. Maybe even the sewer. Somebody's gotta do it to put food on the table and pay for their Air Jordans and IPads. But this is typically only once a year on "bring your child to work day". Not 24/7/365 like Adam LaRoche wants for his son.

On that note, one could ask -- if young Drake is hanging out at the ballpark and/or in the clubhouse every day -- why isn't he in school during the spring and fall? How does that work?

And it's not just home games. Drake gets to fly with the team on road trips as well. Plus he has long had his own locker in the clubhouse -- right next to Dad's. What's truly comical is some jocks from other teams speaking up and saying if the ChiSox want to "bar" Drake from their clubhouse (again, they do not, but only want Dad to dial it back a bit), they would welcome young LaRoche into THEIR clubhouses to hang out. Gee, are they in need of a 14-year old leader too? If so, it does not speak well of their coaching staff, much less their collective team brain power. They need a ninth grader to show them the way? Really?

But there is something more important that has gone unspoken in this snafu so far. Sure, Adam LaRoche loves his son very much and wants the best for him, like any half-way decent father would. Yet another question needs to be asked --- what effect has such preferential treatment had on young Drake?

It would be easy to imagine the kid fancies himself as "entitled". That might work for a little while but, eventually, as Drake grows up, the real world will come crashing down on him like it does any other young adult. While Adam LaRoche (and others) may consider himself a super-parent, there's also the distinct possibility that spoiling Drake rotten in his formative years will come back to haunt him when he has to go out and find his way. The world is a tough place these days for most people, and it doesn't care much that your daddy used to be a major league baseball player. That and a few bucks will still get you the same Big Mac.

Then there's the matter of Adam LaRoche himself. He's now 36 years old and can barely hit his weight any more. He's tortoise slow and a defensive liability to boot. How and why the Chisox offered him a whopping $25 million (all guaranteed) over last season and this one is mind-boggling itself. Especially when he was dragging his kid along, like he was a player or something.

LaRoche has made plenty of mega-dough over his long career, so him walking away from $13 million this year matters little. But for a guy on his last grossly overpaid legs anyway to take some sort of "righteous" stand over his already spoiled rotten kid having his executive perks finally trimmed back a tad smacks of nothing short of either arrogance or flat out stupidity.

So yes, Kenny Williams was absolutely right and should stand by his decision. The Chicago White Sox are a professional baseball team and will be run accordingly. Kids are welcome -- to a point. But they're not players, nor will they be treated as such and offered the same amenities.

Here's what he should say to Adam LaRoche --

"When Drake can hit .280 at this level and play a defensive position very well -- call me. Or if he develops a 95 MPH heater with a couple breaking pitches he can consistently throw for strikes -- I'm open to that too.

But for now, he is decidedly NOT a major league talent, nor even a minor league one. I like the boy and all, but he's no more special than anybody else's kid. I asked you to merely dial it back a tad, but you decided you'd rather 'take your ball and go home' while creating a media sensation on your way out. And BTW, thanks for leaving that $13 million on the table. It will be put to good use elsewhere."

There has to be a limit to this sort of thing. I mean, c'mon, what's next? Should every player's kid, male or female, have full access to all team functions? Should that apply in all other walks of life as well? Lots of kids want to grow up to be doctors. If their mom or dad is a surgeon, should they be allowed in the operating room to look over their shoulders as they work? Would a soldier take his 14-year old on a combat mission? Would a lineman have his daughter next to him up in the bucket when he's making a high voltage splice?

In the end, Drake LaRoche is just another kid. And perhaps the White Sox are to blame for allowing him such special "insider" privileges in the past.

But there's never been anything wrong with one seeing the errors of his/her ways in the past and trying to correct them in the future.

In this case, it's not only a matter of maintaining professor decorum, but likely beneficial to the kid as well in the long run.

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