By Jacob Matthews
Much has been reported and refuted, clarified and contradicted regarding the abrupt Adam LaRoche retirement. White Sox players have pointed out the apparent story shifting on the part of executive Ken Williams (who pulled the trigger on giving Drake LaRoche the proverbial boot from the unlimited access club).
Once it becomes an executives-lying-to-players script, we remember Newsies and take the side of the union. To be honest, though, the additional details about Williams’ three versions of the same story was merely added ammunition to what I already wanted to believe. Some deep-set connection between baseball and family and tradition seemed almost violated by the step that Williams took.
I know, I know, I get the counter argument. It’s still a job, and what other job in the world allows you to bring your son to work with you everyday? You got me. There aren’t any. Definitely not my accountant, definitely not the construction worker putting up the high-rise across the way. But why are we so adamant about making baseball like every other job in America. I hate to point it out, but I probably won’t spend hundreds of hours watching my accountant crank out someone else’s taxes. I’m also not likely to follow the steel-placement stats as the men in orange weld away. Baseball is different, and I am sure glad that it is. Quite frankly, many of my 8-5 days are made bearable because I get to come home and spend the precious “free time” I have following a pastime that seems to encapsulate an America with a little less corporate gloss covering the red, white, and blue.
Sports in general seem to provide the right type of release. The majority of kids in the neighborhood still dream of becoming some type of athlete when they grow up. And this is because sports captures an aspect of childhood that is value-engineered out of nearly every other facet of our streamlined lives.
Especially with a sport that relies on multi-generational tradition, why are we pulling kids out of the clubhouse and off the diamond? If anything, shouldn’t we be doing the opposite? The fact that the players considered boycotting a game and not-so-subtly hinted that the wrong guy was walking out of the doors after Williams’ decision, seems to indicate that the professionals around whom the business is built aren’t the ones calling for change. Plus, what business advantage are we actually gaining by demanding a password before gaining entrance through the locker room doors? If it’s about distractions, ban the media from the clubhouse. I guarantee that any player would take Drake LaRoche over the “how do you feel about allowing the winning run?” reporter after a loss. Furthermore, how many post-game press conferences do you re-watch that don’t have Riley Curry (or a comparably cute child) stealing the show? Business decision? Come on now.
Maybe it is because I respect Adam LaRoche. Maybe it is because I am secretly envious of Drake. Maybe the idea of walking away from $13 million without looking back and holding your son’s hand out the door just has a protagonist feel to it. Regardless, strictly from a subjective standpoint I can’t help but hear the refrain, “somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;/ but there is no joy in Mudville – mighty baseball has struck out.”