Adam LaRoche announced his retirement from baseball on Tuesday, citing “personal reasons” and hinting that a further explanation was forthcoming. It soon came out that White Sox GM Kenny Williams had asked LaRoche not to bring his son to the clubhouse every day, as he had been doing throughout Spring Training. LaRoche was expected to split time with Jose Abreu at first base and as the designated hitter; Abreu is now the only man on the depth chart for the White Sox at both positions.
But LaRoche walked away from his $13 million salary, earning praise and sympathy from the bat-flip-loving, unwritten-rule-hating denizens of Baseball Twitter. The story was seen as yet another indictment against a baseball establishment that takes itself too seriously, and allows far too little fun into an activity made up of a series of games.
There are plenty of reasons to be peeved by those who, like Goose Gossage did last week, proudly espouse their own ignorance and misplaced nostalgia for an older, allegedly purer version of baseball. But Williams’ actions against LaRoche aren’t about a longing for the good ol’ days when kids stayed out of clubhouses and listened to games on their transistor radios. He asked for Drake’s presence in the clubhouse to be “dialed back,” which, given that LaRoche himself admits that his son was always around the team, hardly seems unreasonable. I could repeat all the common arguments about baseball being hard work, and never-ending Take Your Kid To Work Day being a distraction (when I would check out my parents’ places of employment, they had to tour me around everywhere and feed me Reese’s Cups). They all hold water, but all miss the point about the kid himself.
When you first heard this story, whether through me or someone else, how old did you guess Drake LaRoche was? Well, if you peeked at our cartoon above, you know he’s 14. But when I first read about the controversy, I pictured some wide-eyed little tyke, maybe seven years old, tops. Spring Training as daycare alternative could be defensible, but what 14-year-old wants to spend that much time with his dad, or even should spend that much time with his dad?
Sure, Adam LaRoche is a professional baseball player, but he’s also obsessed with guns, apparently, and is a close friend of “Duck Dynasty’s” Willie Robertson, a man whose name I hope I would never have to type on this site. LaRoche fits the profile of an athlete with political ambitions, and what better way to kickstart that career than a highly public retirement that’s allowed him to flex his pro-family muscles? It’s certainly a more interesting reason to hang it up than declining production or back spasms. As for Drake, when the White Sox clean out his locker, I wonder what they’ll do about the “HELP” messages carved into the wood.
Dustin Petzold is the editor-in-chief of Crooked Scoreboard. You should follow the site on Twitter. We promise never to talk about Duck Dynasty again.
Nate Koehler is a cartoonist and illustrator from Madison, WI. He promises never to let kids distract him from his art. You should follow him on Twitter, too.