Kids in the Clubhouse
One of the most interesting stories in Spring Training is Adam LaRoche‘s surprise retirement because the White Sox said he could not bring his son to the ballpark every day.
The story is crazy for a couple reasons:
- LaRoche surrendered $13 million in salary.
- He surrendered his salary because his boss said he could not bring his teenage son to work every day. Not ever, mind you. Just not every day.
Kids in the clubhouse is nothing new. Bob Boone‘s kids famously spent oodles of time in the Phillies’ clubhouse in the ’70s and ’80s. Since I’ve been covering the the Phillies, I’ve seen countless players bring their sons into the clubhouse. Some have them on the field before batting practice. Even more show up after a win. It is actually pretty cool to see, a child running up to his dad in a replica jersey and giving him a hug after a win.
But the Phillies have put limits on it. Generally, the rules have been this: children must leave once batting practice starts and they are allowed to return only after a win. They are reasonable rules and nobody seemed to abuse them. Nobody brought their son to the ballpark every day. Certainly no kid had his own locker.
I’ve talked to a few people about LaRoche’s stand this week and I’ve received different opinions. One person said he had absolutely no problem with LaRoche’s son being in the clubhouse. Everybody else, however, said it can be too much. And the problem is players are not going to confront a popular veteran teammate about bringing their son to work too much. Nobody wants to look like a jerk. Nobody wants to create a rift. And based on the reactions from Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, who called LaRoche’s kid a “leader” (say what?), they were right in doing what they probably did: Go to the front office to complain.
I think most players look at it like this: if you want to have your son around every once in a while, that’s cool. I imagine it’s an awesome experience for father and son. But they also must know this is a place of business with millions of dollars and jobs on the line. Some players don’t like any distractions. Some players are fighting like hell to make the team or keep their job. They’re there to work. Not that LaRoche wasn’t, but sometimes a good thing can be too much.