The big news out of the baseball world this week is that Chicago White Sox (and former Nationals) 1B Adam LaRoche is retiring. Reports have said that LaRoche retired because White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams told LaRoche that his son, Drake, was no longer allowed inside the White Sox clubhouse everyday. For years, Drake had been accompanying his father on his baseball adventures. During LaRoche’s time as a Washington National, Drake was able to be in the clubhouse, and he even chugged sparkling grape juice with Bryce Harper during the 2012 NL East champion celebration (Harper wasn’t 21 so he couldn’t drink alcohol). When the White Sox said Drake was no longer permitted in the clubhouse everyday, LaRoche walked away from his $13 million contract.
Everyone has an opinion about this, some supporting LaRoche, and some thinking the White Sox were right to ask him not to bring Drake with him every day. No reporter knows all the facts. But my opinion is that I support LaRoche’s decision to walk away.
First, when LaRoche signed his contract with the White Sox, the team had to have known that Drake being “the 26th man” was part of the deal. Last year, Drake had a uniform and his own locker in the Sox clubhouse. If having Drake around was in LaRoche’s contract, he or the MLBPA could challenge the White Sox.
Second, other White Sox players, especially Chris Sale, are standing behind LaRoche. Everyone seems to think having Drake around doesn’t impact the clubhouse atmosphere. The LaRoche family thinks that Drake is destined for the Majors–Drake’s grandpa and uncle also spent time in the MLB. It’s obvious he wants to continue the family business. For him, spending everyday with the team is a learning experience, seeing up close what goes on behind the scenes of a baseball season.
Third, Drake LaRoche works on a special school schedule–he goes to public school when he’s home in Kansas and gets lessons while he’s away. Now, LaRoche told the Washington Post a couple of years ago, “We’re not big on school. I told my wife, ‘He’s going to learn a lot more useful information in the clubhouse than he will in the classroom, as far as life lessons.'” That is a controversial thing to say. You probably can learn things about life in a clubhouse, but you also need to get a normal education and make friendships. If Adam LaRoche is retiring, does that mean that Drake has to go to school full time? I bet he isn’t a big fan of that.
Finally, one thing that I haven’t seen anyone else pick up on is that LaRoche also has a daughter named Montana. There’s reasons why a young girl shouldn’t be in a locker room with grown baseball players. But female reporters work out of MLB clubhouses, and I think it isn’t fair to only focus on LaRoche’s relationship with his son. Hopefully by retiring from baseball, LaRoche will spend more time with his daughter, who missed out on all the experiences Drake had with his dad at the ballpark.