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Raise your hand if you can take your kid to work with you…
I didn’t think so. Most of us in America are unable to have the luxury of taking our children to work with us (unless you work at a day care center, maybe). Most of us wouldn’t take our children to work with us even if we could! It’s true, but in most cases, our kids would be nothing more than a distraction if taken into the workplace with us.
The Chicago White Sox came down this week and asked one of their players, Adam LaRoche to dial back the frequency in how often he brings his son, Drake, to the ballpark (according to multiple reputable sources). So the question was raised, were they correct in asking him to do this? Of course, the timing is most curious, as we are almost a month deep into spring training. White Sox executive Kenny Williams, making this new “rule”, is obviously aimed directly at LaRoche, even if he has tried to sell it as a new organizational policy.
Before I offer my thoughts and opinions on who I believe is right, and wrong, in this situation, let me first clarify something. I’ve read through many tweets, Facebook comments, articles (written by both professionals and amateurs) and blog posts on this very subject. The most commonly suggested argument in defense of the White Sox is: can you take your kids to work? I’ve seen many variations of this very question posed in response. My thought is… STOP IT! Yes, I borrowed the catch phrase of Mr. Controversy himself!
Let me be very clear about something: Major League Baseball is not your job. It is an unfair comparison to suggest that your job, working a 9-5 behind a desk, driving a truck for a living, working in a retail setting, a restaurant or any other examples of the millions of jobs that exist, is on the same level as that of a big league ball player. Professional players, in all sports, are giving concessions, incentives and exceptions are made all the time, in order to secure their services. Players are giving access to private jets. Does your job offer you that? Players get big screen T.V.s at their locker. Does your job offer you that? Players have their respective teams pay for moving expenses, despite signing a multi-million dollar contract in most cases. Players request private trainers, masseuses, ocular enhancers, equity in private business ventures, access to team-owned vehicles, money to fund private businesses on the side, tractors, and even 37 boxes of Jell-O (Charlie Kerfeld). We could write an article just on how insane some of the player requests have been. We could write an even better article on just how crazy some of the contractual inclusions have been!
Now, some of you reading might say that my company offers additional perks and incentives like some of the ones I mentioned above, so let me be clear once more. Your job is not like Major League Baseball. Yes, MLB is a job, so save that argument. Yes, MLB is a business, so save that argument too. Major League Baseball operates under a different set of rules and guidelines. Let me ask you this. Does the company that you work for operate with an antitrust exemption? Don’t bother to Google it. They don’t. Major League Baseball has had an antitrust exemption since 1922. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it essentially gives MLB the ability to monopolize the sport professionally. In fact, it may be the only monopoly currently operating within the United States. So, with that said, don’t compare Adam LaRoche’s former job, to yours.
Back to the subject at hand. I can see arguments from both sides of the aisle. On one hand, you have the Chicago White Sox. They have the right to impose any rules of their choosing, so long as they abide by state and federal guidelines. They felt that Drake LaRoche’s everyday presence was becoming a distraction, and that maybe if he were around less, it would be more beneficial to the team. I won’t argue against them choosing to institute a policy that they were well within their rights to do. However, I will call into question the timing. As I mentioned earlier, waiting a month into the beginning of the 2016 season to make this an issue is, curious, at best. Why now? Why not back in December, when it would have made more sense?! You can’t tell me that this is the first time that Adam brought his son Drake to the ballpark consistently.
Then, on the other side, you have Adam LaRoche. A single father using his job’s relaxed view on bringing children to the ballpark, to spend more time with his 14-year old son. Let’s not act as if he is the first to do so either. We should all be so lucky. He brings his son to the ballpark everyday because he can. He has done it before, with other teams as well, as I understand it. Until now it hasn’t been a problem. It hasn’t been a problem before to the extent that Drake even has his own locker inside the White Sox clubhouse. So, again, let’s not argue what you can do at your job. That argument is invalid as far as I am concerned. Let’s analyze what is allowed in MLB, considering that we’ve now identified that it is own beast. Let’s also take into considering that LaRoche apparently has a clause in his contract allowing Drake to be allowed into the clubhouse as often as Adam chooses (per White Sox player Adam Eaton, via @BillShaikin on Twitter).
Maybe Adam LaRoche shouldn’t have brought Drake quite so much. Maybe the White Sox could have chosen better timing in regards to implementing a new rule that impacted at least one player’s kid. Maybe we can argue that it is still spring training, so who cares how often his kid, or any other, is at the park. After all, most players on the 25-man roster don’t even play all that much during spring games. Maybe this is a bigger deal than it should be because of Adam LaRoche’s choice to retire and walk away from $13 million dollars to play for the White Sox during the 2016 season in light of this new rule.
It is now coming to light, based on comments White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has made, that Kenny Williams used the excuse that various players in the clubhouse complained as his reasoning to implement the new rule. According to those very players in the clubhouse they are asking, “which of us said it?” They have also requested a meeting with team owner Jerry Reinsdorf to discuss Williams’ actions. This begs the question, was Kenny Williams acting on his own accord, when he made the ruling? If so, then it presents a whole new argument. How much control over a clubhouse should an executive, even the General Manager, have? To ask the players, I am sure you’d get a unanimous, stay the *bleep* out!
If LaRoche’s teammates sincerely had an issue with Drake’s presence, deeming it a distraction, then I would have no choice but to side with the White Sox organization in this case. If Kenny Williams is unilaterally playing dictator here, then I have no choice but to admonish him and side with LaRoche, Eaton and Sale in this matter and commend Adam on his bold decision to walk away from the game he loves so dearly (and of course the paycheck that comes with it). In the end, there can be no truly right or wrong decision with which side to take. Again, I can make an argument for both sides. However, if you choose to argue on behalf of the White Sox, please save the argument of can you take your kids to your job? You are not a professional baseball player. You aren’t offered most of the same perks that they are. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living.