Is Adam LaRoche a hero for putting his family first, or a fool?
Almost every day last year, LaRoche, a first baseman and designated hitter for the Chicago White Sox, took his then 13-year-old son, Drake, with him to work. He was there with him at U.S. Cellular Field, where the White Sox play their home games. He even went with them on road trips.
(What about school, you might ask? I certainly did. The LaRoches reportedly had an arrangement with their kids' school--Drake has a younger sister--to allow them to travel with their dad.)
Apparently, nobody minded. Or at least nobody put up a fight. The White Sox even seemed to think it was cute. They gave Drake his own locker next to his dad's, and the younger LaRoche would spend his days snagging fly balls in practice, running errands for other players, and heeding his dad's advice to be helpful and stay out of everyone's way.
This year however, a few weeks before opening day, the White Sox decided they'd had enough, and asked LaRoche to "dial back" how often his son was around the team.
"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,'" White Sox president Ken Williams told reporter Ken Rosenthal.
"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."
In response, LaRoche, who is the son and brother of major league baseball players himself, took his bat and ball and went home, so to speak. He retired from the game he's played professionally since 2004.
The current year is 2016, so he of course did so via Twitter.
Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved!#FamilyFirst-- Adam LaRoche (@e3laroche) March 15, 2016
As the website Deadspin put it, "this is the best baseball controversy in quite some time." And it seems the White Sox really had gone out of their way to make Drake feel welcome. Honestly, it's hard to say whether that makes their decision now more or less understandable.
The LaRoche father-son locker setup in the Sox's clubhouse at the Cell last year: pic.twitter.com/lvyZV21YOk-- Danny Ecker (@DannyEcker) March 16, 2016
One key stat might explain the whole thing, however. LaRoche is 36 years old, and hit only .207 last year with 12 home runs. In spring training this year, he batted .200.
As some commentators suggested, the White Sox might have been a little less willing to put up with his son hanging around--and more willing to endure a few rough days of media coverage--if it meant getting rid of a poorly performing player with a big contract.
What do you think? Is LaRoche a hero for this decision, or is he teaching his kid a bad lesson about what to expect in life? Let us know in the comments below.