Did you hear the news? A baseball team and one of it's extremely under-performing players are having a public falling out, people are taking sides in the issue and lines are being drawn. Many are rushing to the defense of the player, while admonishing the team, some going so far as to say the beef was manufactured by the team in hopes to get out of a contract. Some, however, are siding with the team, thinking they've done no wrong, and shouldn't be made into the bad guy. Is it just me, or does this sound REALLY familiar?
The recent news i'm talking about is the Adam LaRoche/Chicago White Sox debacle that's currently burning up the airwaves and Twitter feeds with opinions and arguments aplenty. It all started when LaRoche announced his retirement on Tuesday, to the surprise of baseball fans and writers everywhere. Then there was rumblings about there being more than meets the eye with this story, but nobody was actually saying what the hubub was all about. That is, until yesterday. It seems that Mr. LaRoche enjoys bringing his son to the ballpark...every day...and the White Sox brass basically told him "Hey, you can still bring your son to the ballpark. Just don't bring EVERY DAY, is that cool?". At that point, LaRoche did what just about any of us would do when told he can't bring his son to work every day: he quit! Ok ay, so maybe I laid the sarcasm on a little thick there, because a lot of us are still scratching our heads over his idea to leave the game for that weird of a reason. But he did, and left $13 million on the table, much to the delight of the White Sox front office and hardcore fans, i'm sure.
Well, at least SOME of them are delighted. This whole thing is a sort of watered-down version of a very public and damaging(in a public relations sense as well as a team payroll sense) battle held last year, at almost this exact time, between the Angels/Arte Moreno and Josh Hamilton. Hamilton had a relapse, got in hot water with the MLB's drug policy, but was then taken to mediation with the Angels at which point he was cleared and he would serve no suspension. The Angels didn't like that one bit, and made that very clear to the press, which was probably a dumb move since it made them out to many to not only be callous and unsympathetic to Hamilton's situation, but it also looked like a move they were feverishly going after just to get out of paying the guy a boat load of money.
To this day, there are still Angels fans who either lean towards the Angels camp or the Hamilton camp, but the damage it did to the image of the Angels brand is still felt by us all, no matter where you stand on it. The situation was so tense and rife with controversy that it even spilled over to our very own site, and Halos Heaven was all of a sudden thrown into the spotlight along with the rest of the players in that debacle. But you know what? I "got" that whole ordeal; that is to say, I understood full and well why things were blowing up the way they did. There were some serious subjects(drug addiction/relapse) and some really questionable comments that came straight from the mouths of the Angels front office. It was outrage that I could at least put my finger on and feel the pulse of, as opposed to the LaRoche ordeal, in which I keep scratching my head at all the back and forth online about it while thinking "He wanted to bring the kid EVERY DAY?".
I'm almost hesitant to write about the Angels/Josh Hamilton situation because it is a quick way to get people fired up, but I can't help chuckling at the similarities between the takes people had on that one and the takes people have on the White Sox/LaRoche situation. There are still many questions that need answered, but to some, the White Sox are completely in the clear while others already have them pegged as the bad guy. Here's what I do know, from experience: this is NOT a good way to start of your season. Take it from a fan who has had to go through some pretty ugly organizational hiccups the past year or so...you don't need this distraction. The White Sox should probably stand pat with their decision, but they should be coming up with ways to minimize the public relations damage in the interim, as well as making sure they have the players kept far away from any of this distraction. Don't let this snowball into a handful of other highly publicized gaffes or missteps. As for the hot takes and picking sides? It's pretty much a moot point, so let's all move on as baseball fans, because in this situation BOTH parties seem to be getting what they want; LaRoche gets retirement and his family, White Sox keep some money that would otherwise go to a guy that barely cracks a .200 avg. As for the pundits weighing in on this like it's an actual, serious story(like the Josh Hamilton issue), please just stop.
But just for the sake of the argument, and putting aside last year's Angels/Hamilton blow up, let's get a definitive vote here on the issue at hand, which is kids in the clubhouse. Are the White Sox the bad guys in keeping Drake LaRoche out of the clubhouse every day, or is Adam LaRoche taking this a little bit too far?