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The conversation this week may have gone this way.
"Rick, I really need to talk to you," began the beleaguered Adam LaRoche. "These back spasms have been killing me, and I've had a lot of time in the past ten days to do some thinking. Rick, I think I'm going to call it quits."
"Oh my god, Adam, this is a shocker," gasped Sox GM Hahn. "What's going on?"
"Look, I've had a great career even though last season was pretty painful," said LaRoche. "I've played for six different teams, and people have treated me great. But there are so many aspects of my life to consider. I just think this is the best decision for me and my family."
"I know Kenny Williams talked to you about the time your son Drake spends in the clubhouse. I can talk to Kenny, and we can work something out."
"That's just one thing on my mind," responded LaRoche. "You know, when I was a kid and my dad was pitching in the big leagues, he brought me to the ballpark all the time. And I think it paid off. I saw how professionals conducted themselves. Barry Bonds was with his dad Bobby all the time when he was a kid. Hell, Willie Mays was his godfather, and look at the career Barry had."
"Well, that may be true, but what about school?" asked Hahn. "What would happen if everyone had their kids in the clubhouse as often as you do. We'd have to hire tutors."
"You have a point, Rick, but that's precisely why I think it might be better for me to go home to be with my wife and kids."
"Geez, Adam, I always knew you were a man of principles, but, for crying out loud, you're passing up thirteen million dollars," exclaimed Hahn. "I'm well-paid, but not like you. I have no idea how it feels to have five hundred thousand dollars deposited in my bank account every two weeks!"
"You're missing the point, my friend," said LaRoche. "I've made seventy-one million already in this game. What's another thirteen?"
"What if your house needs a new roof? What if your car breaks down? On second thought, forget I said that," stammered Hahn.
"Then there is this DH thing," countered LaRoche. "I hate it. You know, I won a Gold Glove in 2012. I've always prided myself on my defense. Everyone can see that I'm a better first baseman than Abreu. That's not a knock on him. He's becoming the face of the franchise. He's younger than I am, and he would be pissed if you used him as a DH. But I never knew what to do with myself last year waiting until my turn at bat came up. Was I in the game or wasn't I? I felt incomplete. It wasn't fun."
"I get that," admitted Hahn. "You never hit .207 before with only 12 dingers. But we know you're better than that. Not only did you win that Gold Glove four years ago, but you were sixth in MVP voting. Those skills just don't disappear. I figured you'd be a good candidate for Comeback Player of the Year."
"Yeah, and you probably thought Adam Dunn was going to come back as well," said LaRoche. "His contract was longer than mine, but he was just 34 when he quit. I'll assume responsibility for my lousy season, but face it: you guys have terrible luck signing left-handed hitting National Leaguers to be your DH. I understand why Dunn walked away."
"But you came to spring training in such great shape," sighed Hahn. "We were so optimistic."
"You ever had back spasms?" asked LaRoche. "I've heard that the only way a man can come close to experiencing the contractions a woman feels during childbirth is to have back spasms. My back is killing me. In addition, you don't want my kid around here. The boos last season were painful. Being a DH has no appeal for me. The travel is tough. I have plenty of money. I'm just 36 with my whole life ahead of me. I don't need this."
"But the guys," pleaded Hahn, "won't you miss the guys? The camaraderie. The banter. The thrill of being a major league ballplayer."
"Sure, I'll miss some of them," admitted LaRoche. "But that only goes so far. I have my family and lots of friends away from baseball. Now I can spend more time with them without the pressure of hitting more than .207 and hearing fans say I'm stealing because I make so much money."
"OK, I get it," Hahn relented. "You have your principles. I respect you and wish you nothing but the best."
The two men rose out of their chairs, shook hands, and LaRoche departed to clean out his locker.
Hahn whipped out his cellphone and speed-dialed Kenny Williams, who answered immediately.
"Kenny," began Hahn, "I have great news."
Roger Wallenstein is our expert White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.
1. From Tom Chambers:
Did the LaRoche kid travel with the team? Does the kid have a babe in every city in the league?
Did the kid do anything beside shag balls and play catch? Like cork bats, sharpen spikes, doctor baseballs, heat balm the rookies' jocks or put shoe polish inside the band of Chris Sale's hat? Was the old man spending more time entertaining the kid than working on his $63,000-per-point batting average? As a growing teenager, was the kid pigging out too much at the postgame spread? "HEY! Who ate all the rumaki?!"
Could he have been made the bat boy? Does the bat boy have to be 18? How does the Sox bat boy program work and how much time do the Sox bat boys actually spend in the clubhouse? Who are the Sox bat boys, at least last year's? Did the Sox incur any legal liability by having the kid around so much, presumably not on the payroll? If the kid can play at all, why isn't he in school playing ball?
Did Ventura approve the kid being around? Did Ventura approve the locker? Were any of the White Sox players uncomfortable or even resentful of the kid being around? Especially the players who work for years to make it to The Show and have to watch out for this kid. Is this why the Sox will never win under Ventura?
How much time did Adam really spend in the clubhouse with his old man's teams? How much time did Ozzie's kids spend in the clubhouse? Who does LaRoche think he is, Dusty Baker?
Me? I'm just curious!
2. From Bill Sullivan:
I am a little more cynical and harsh than you and others. I only wish this had happened last year at this time. If LaRoche was really a man of principle he would have negotiated his contract down last year and made it more of a performance contract.
He earned $71 million over his career, I think he and his family and his family's families can live quite well and never do a day of work.
The real unfortunate thing about this matter is that for some reason the LaRoche parents decided to put their son into the middle of all of this. And you have to ask yourself, do you really want your offspring around when the other players are being baseball players and getting a little foul? And do you really want your son around when you are being booed, not just once, but repeatedly? Maybe that is part of the maturation process that I missed. Lastly, do MLB players kids not have to go to school or do they all have tutors? Just asking.
Editor's Note: My understanding is that Drake LaRoche is home-schooled.
Your piece was perfect and the comment by Mr. Chambers was spot-on. One had to even laugh.
The last question in closing: What is Ventura doing in all of this and many other things?