March 19, 2016

"[Adam] LaRoche’s abrupt decision to leave behind his baseball career because his employer wanted to limit the time his 14-year-old son could spend at the ballpark..."

"... has reverberated well beyond the White Sox’s spring training headquarters in Glendale, Ariz. LaRoche’s conclusion, that he would rather abandon his $13 million salary than go through a year without his son by his side, has been featured on TV’s morning talk shows and been the subject of debate and discussion in baseball clubhouses and corporate board rooms, not to mention across social media: About children in the workplace. The demands of modern-day parenting. The value of formal education vs. time together as a family. And, in LaRoche’s unique case, the wisdom of having his child with him for almost every one of 162 regular season games, not to mention the entirety of spring training...."

From "How Adam LaRoche’s decision to quit quickly became bigger than baseball" in WaPo (which you can read without a subscription if you use private browsing).

I haven't read any of the debate and discussion, but it seems obvious to me that bringing a child to work should be a some-time thing, not an everyday practice. I think it's insane to present LaRoche as a great dad for what he did and insisted on continuing to do.
LaRoche and his wife, Jennifer, always have removed their two children from school in their home state of Kansas and received educational help from a tutoring service to keep the family together during the baseball season. LaRoche not only believed having Drake with him at the ballpark didn’t hinder his son’s education, he felt it enhanced it.
Even if it was good for the child, why should one child have complete access to what is a shared workplace? The father and son had side-by-side lockers. I see that the players all say they supported LaRoche, but how is any player supposed to come out and oppose this man who's dug in so deeply in the fatherhood game? Objecting to what seemingly loving parents are doing with their kids is a fool's errand.

ADDED: An underlying problem here is the designated hitter.  That occurred to me as I was reading the NYT article, which quotes Dwier Brown, who acted in the movie "Field of Dreams" and wrote a book titled "If You Build It." He said: "Most other sports don’t have that opportunity for contemplation and time... When you’re sitting at a ballpark with your dad, you have time to talk. It’s not like a Raiders game." Time to talk? Sitting? There's a lot of sitting when you're the DH, as LaRoche was.

67 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

Could a baseball player bring his young Daughter into the locker-room on a regular basis?

Sounds like uneven opportunity.

Note: Myself, I have no problem with a teenage girl in the men's locker room.

I am Laslo.

PB said...

I didn't realize his son was there for every game, home and away with his own locker room. That's a bit much.

rehajm said...

He should register his kid as a therapy animal. Problem solved.

Rusty said...

Meh.
First world problems of overpaid juveniles.

Sebastian said...

"dug in so deeply in the fatherhood game" In the fatherhood preening game.

"Objecting . . . fool's errand." Nah. Just wait until SJWs train their ire on this obvious case of White Male Privilege.

Ambrose said...

I would think that very few 14 years would want to spend that much time with a parent. Early teen years are the time to start asserting independence.

Coconuss Network said...

A new perspective on the Family Leave Legislation. Bring the lil baby to work and breastfeed at will. Sounds promising to me for the future of our children. No more daycare deaths because the mother must get back to work in 3 months or less following delivery.

Hagar said...

If he is paid 13 million now, he has been paid at least several million for some years. If that has been prudently invested, his family is all set and he does not need to put up with this circus any more.
The thing with his son may just be a pretext.

Ann Althouse said...

Worker A brings child to work every day, devotes some time during work hours to interaction with the child and engages other workers in being friendly and nice to the child.

Worker B pays for child care, takes on more of the share of the work because he/she doesn't tend to a child during work hours, and puts effort into maintaining appropriate friendliness toward A's child.

Is that a good dynamic? What if the balance of A's and B's keeps shifting as B's become A's because A is a better deal? Something not right there.

Ann Althouse said...

LaRoche is in a good position to make a book deal. He'll make plenty more money.

Jack Bunce said...

"...Objecting to what seemingly loving parents are doing with their kids is a fool's errand."

Yes, it is, Ann.

Locker room as a shared workplace: owner's, managers, trainers, reporters (girls & boys), various hangers on and other sycophants. Probably most get thrown out during "pep talks" or team strategy meetings. More like a Mall or other semipublic space. I dunno, maybe I'd be willing to limit the definition of workplace to the actual playing field and perhaps the dugout, but, in today's professional sports world I wouldn't include the locker room.

Any way, his life, his child. Doesn't matter what we think.

Bob Ellison said...

DH means he can't catch or throw worth a damn.

commoncents said...

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Birches said...

I'm so annoyed this story is gaining traction as a father of the year story. Laroche is selfish and his kid was probably becoming a distraction.

Gahrie said...

I think the team had every right to ban (or restrict access) the kid from the locker room, and the guy had every right to walk away from the game. I think he's nuts though. The amount of money he was earning can change the lives of generations of his family.

SteveR said...

Seemingly a player negotiating that size contract could have built some specific language into the terms.

I tend to think there's some weirdness going on.

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
LaRoche is in a good position to make a book deal. He'll make plenty more money."

Doubt it.

LaRoche is 36 years old and hit .207 with only 12 homers last year. When he foolishly walks away from the $13 million you foolishly contracted to pay him, you don't look for a compromise, you call him a cab. Good riddance.

madAsHell said...

The kid is 14 years old? Why is he hanging out with his father? The kid should be out chasing skirts, and drinking beer.

hamiyam said...

Obviously, baseball players are much overpaid.
Does anyone remember the old days when players had to get a job during the off-season just to survive?

Bob Boyd said...

When the kid figures out his dad isn't a pro ball-player any more he'll move on.

Ann Althouse said...

"'Ann Althouse said...LaRoche is in a good position to make a book deal. He'll make plenty more money." Doubt it. LaRoche is 36 years old and hit .207 with only 12 homers last year. When he foolishly walks away from the $13 million you foolishly contracted to pay him, you don't look for a compromise, you call him a cab. Good riddance."

I think you missed the word "book."

I'm not saying the team would make a new deal. I'm saying he becomes a guy that makes the rounds on women's TV, talking about the meaning of fatherhood, and someone helps him put out a book with the right material to appeal to this audience. He leverages the publicity and the people who now love him for what they just found out he does.

Michael K said...

I used to take my kids with me on weekend rounds in the hospital. Kids in modern life don't see what their parents, especially fathers, do to earn a living. My grandfather spent every day, all day, with his father working on a farm. My father did the same. I spent a lot of time with my father as a child, as he had his own business. I don't know about the kid spending all day in the locker room or stadium with his father but it should be their decision.

If the club wants to restrict his time, and he walks away, it's his business.

My first wife constantly complained about the time consumed by medical practice and none of my kids went to medical school. I was trying, I suppose, to counteract that constant theme that doctors work too hard. I was disappointed but they all were supported in what they did. Even the two who went to law school.

sane_voter said...

He became much more famous for this than anything he ever did on a baseball field. I had never heard of him before this kerfuffle.

The Godfather said...

Isn't this a private decision by LaRoche and his family? I don't see why Althouse posted about it or what we are doing commenting on it.

Gahrie said...

I'm betting LaRoche counted on the team backing down due to bad publicity.

Bob Boyd said...

I guess LaRoche isn't a Master Persuader.


Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
I think you missed the word "book."

I'm not saying the team would make a new deal. I'm saying he becomes a guy that makes the rounds on women's TV, talking about the meaning of fatherhood, and someone helps him put out a book with the right material to appeal to this audience. He leverages the publicity and the people who now love him for what they just found out he does."

No, I know you said book. And I do doubt it. BTW, I can't imagine women's shows supporting a family that self schools, and thinks constant exposure to baseball is the answer to bringing up a boy.

The rest was just a separate thought on the whole situation.

traditionalguy said...

LaRoche hits a home run. Freedom is busting out all over.

It is a kid's game. Played by old children. That is why enjoy it. The only thing they need to ban is beards.

Curious George said...

"The Godfather said...
Isn't this a private decision by LaRoche and his family? I don't see why Althouse posted about it or what we are doing commenting on it."

Seriously? He's tweeted about it, and published a long explanation on his reasons.

Curious George said...

Ann Althouse said...
"'Ann Althouse said...
I'm saying he becomes a guy that makes the rounds on women's TV, talking about the meaning of fatherhood, and someone helps him put out a book with the right material to appeal to this audience."

You ever hear of Duck Dynasty? The Robertsons? Long beards? God fearing? Adam LaRoche is on their Buck Commander show. Somehow I don't see him going on The View or Ellen. Except to be ridiculed.

Clark said...

Shouldn't this just be a question of contract law? The White Sox either agreed to let him bring his son to every game or they didn't. I am guessing that such an agreement is not part of his formal, written contract, but that doesn't mean it is not part of his contract. Whether an oral side agreement is part of his contract is a question of contract law. Either it is part of his contract or it isn't. (A good parol evidence exam question has practically written itself out of this situation.)

Michael K said...

I think his announcement was a bit like the Yale basketball captain suddenly disappearing from practice. This guy has a contract and does owe the fans an explanation. The Yale basketball captain was expelled on another of these fake "rape" charges. The explanation trickled out.

jaydub said...

AA: "Worker A brings child to work every day, devotes some time during work hours to interaction with the child and engages other workers in being friendly and nice to the child.

Worker B pays for child care, takes on more of the share of the work because he/she doesn't tend to a child during work hours, and puts effort into maintaining appropriate friendliness toward A's child."

You're reaching. The man is on the road for half the baseball season, and he has the resources to provide an alternative educational experience for his kid. It may be the business of his employer, but it's not your or my business.

ALP said...

Ann:

I'd love to know more about the liability issues inherent in bringing kids to work.

You see, parents seem to assume everyone at their workplace is well informed on what is and isn't ok when it comes to kids. It never seems to occur to them that childless people are inexperienced and completely out of the loop on what is acceptable.

Let me relay a story: I was in a landscape architecture program as an older student. Our class is visiting a university daycare center, as it is our next design project: we were going to design/build some outside features. The point of the visit is to take photos...lots of them as we won't be able to visit again. Our group attracts the attention of the kids, and they pose for the cameras. To get one kids off my back, I snapped one photo of him (which I planned to delete). One done, he was happy and ran off.

Immediately, a daycare worker whispers in my ear: "That's illegal, don't do that".

HUH? WHAT? What the fuck? Illegal? I just about shit my pants right there - are university cops gonna haul me away?

Its one thing to be out of the loop and piss off a parent, but to be out of the loop and inadvertently do something illegal? Since that day, I don't even get onto an elevator with a mom and her kid - for all I know looking at a kid too much casts suspicion.

This is why I absolutely despise parents that bring their kids to work: I now look at it as being put into a risky situation that I didn't ask for, and could end badly for me.

traditionalguy said...

More pro abortion propaganda. This one scraggly kid just cost his father $14 million big ones.

Andrew said...

LaRoche is a great father and family man, he has also freed his son from the public education cartel. Great American!

Joe said...

Or was this just a clever way for the White Sox to get out of a bad contract?

(Or to see if LaRoche was really serious about playing.)

Big Mike said...

Maybe the game wasn't fun for him anymore as a DH. Maybe he felt he had made enough money already. Who knows? Who cares?

Curious George said...

"Joe said...
Or was this just a clever way for the White Sox to get out of a bad contract?"

Sox fans wish Kenny Williams was that smart.

Static Ping said...

Ann, comparing a cubicle type scenario to a baseball team is silly. It's like criticizing royalty for treating their children different than a plumber. I do grasp your theoretical of two employees playing by different rules that result in diminished performance for the advantaged employee. But baseball is not a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job. Perhaps this arrangement makes Adam a better player. Perhaps it enhances the clubhouse rather than cause trouble. Who knows? I've never had a job that involved working seven to nine months a year with constant travel and performing in front of tens of thousands of paid customers, plus the television audience. I doubt you have either.

The reality is Adam has been bringing his son to the ballpark for years. He did it last year with the White Sox and he did it for years with the Washington Nationals. One of the reasons he agreed to sign with the White Sox is they were willing to accommodate this admittedly unusual arrangement. What the White Sox are doing is in bad faith. It would not shock me in the least as an effort to get Adam to quit, given he had a terrible season last year and is projected to be grossly overpaid this year. From the reaction we are getting from his teammates, the actions of the front office are not popular.

For the record, this is not really a designated hitter issue. When he was with the Nationals, he was a first baseman as the National League does not have the DH. He played 40 games at first last year, too.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Blogger Laslo Spatula said...
Could a baseball player bring his young Daughter into the locker-room on a regular basis?


Yes, if the daughter identifies as a boy.

John Henry

Static Ping said...

According to baseball-reference.com, Adam has made almost $72 million over his career. If he's been smart, the $13 million won't be terribly missed.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't know. I'm trying to imagine what it would have been like if one of my coworkers had had his or her teenager around. I don't think I would have cared. A small child would be a problem because small children chatter and get into things, but a teenager seems like no big deal.

My old boss offered to let me bring my baby to work rather than quit when I was pregnant, but I couldn't picture having a baby around the office.

I went with my dad to his office a lot when I was a child, even a small child. I don't know what his co-workers thought about it. He took me with them to the golf course too, so I guess all of them were forced to tolerate me.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

ALP,

I had a similar experience. My wife and daughter in law were in a store in a mall looking at clothes. I chose to sit on a bench in front of the store.

My granddaughter, about 6-7 at the time, started mugging with the manikins in the window. I thought she was cute and was taking some pics.

A security guard came over and started getting shirty with me until I explained she was my my granddaughter.

You are right, we live in a dangerous society.

John Henry

Freeman Hunt said...

"According to baseball-reference.com, Adam has made almost $72 million over his career. If he's been smart, the $13 million won't be terribly missed."

Yeah, if you have $72 million, why bother putting up with anything not to your liking at a job. You have leave forever money.

Jim Nicholson said...

You present a false choice: being with Dad vs. "an education." The simple fact is that what you call "education" is mostly indoctrination and bombardment with government-approved propaganda. There's very little actual "education" involved, which is why so many of the recently "educated" are getting behind fascist authoritarian thugs such as Trump and Sanders.

mccullough said...

Being a pro athlete is like owning your own business. You can pretty much do what you want, especially when you already have tens of millions in fuck you money. More women need to open businesses. They think like employees.

eddie willers said...

LaRoche was a bit of a headcase when he was with the Braves. He could be going great and then be lackadaisical in the field or on the basepaths. You never knew when his head was in the game.

And I'll close with the immortal words of Cato the Elder: "Death Before DH!"

gadfly said...

I don't understand how it was OK to drag his kids around to every ballpark in the Bigs and not understand that the child is not living a normal life. No friends to play with, only parents to interact with - now that cannot lead to anything but a weird life for all concerned.

But turning 36 is a magic number among baseball players and batting .207 last year might just might be the real problem here. I cannot imagine that the White Sox much care about LaRoche's departure because he certainly is overpaid based upon his performance. You have to wonder whether or not imposing this rule is designed to avoid some kind of contract provision that would cost the ball club a hefty severance if they cut him.

Bob Ellison said...

1B is where you put the DH who can't throw.

Just for the record.

donald said...

Laroche has a low IQ (I knew his landlord in Newnan), and used tonhave pretty decent bat speed. That's gone now, the White Sox know it and want him gone. Incredibly, he's even more stupid than I thought and is willing to walk away from insane money. Good for him and the Sox.

Bob Ellison said...

Imagine a more complex scenario: LaRoche and the team cut a deal wherein he gives up his $13m and gets to say hey, I'm a family guy, and they get to keep the $13m and say hey, he's a family guy.

Doesn't this happen in politics all the time? Spending more time with the family and all that?

It would take about 1200 individual tax-free gifts to make up for that big salary.

Aw, I'm cynical.

Bob Ellison said...

Make that 600, considering taxes. Could you get 600 White Sox fans to unload an under-performer? What about 100? Would that be enough to buy him off?

Mark said...

Number one -- the ballpark is a lot different than the office or factory floor.

Number two -- baseball players' kids being there every day is nothing new. It is not anything new and it has not caused any significant issues. It still does not.

Michael K said...

"No friends to play with, only parents to interact with - now that cannot lead to anything but a weird life for all concerned. "

Yes, that is why the human race died out a million years ago.

Good grief !

Children worked until this century and I can recall working from the time I was in 4th grade. Yes we had play time but not that much after we were in school. Kids don't work anymore but that is more abnormal than spending every day with your father like boys have done since 100,000 BC.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug said...

LaRoche is stupid. Now, his kid can't come with him to the ballpark AND he's out $13M.

ellamentary said...

And what if every player decided to bring his children to work with him? What if instead of one young teen, there were, say, a dozen or more? It would definitely be a distraction. Letting the kid come to hang out with his dad at work once or twice a year, maybe. Every game? Naw.

BTW, Eddie Willers, I'm with you on the DH. As Cato would ALSO have said, "DH delenda est."

Bill Thompson said...

Because it apparently is part of his contract. Not that a lawyer would want to actually know the facts.

Michael K said...

"Take a daughter to work day."

Not a son, of course.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Baseball players are not the backbone of our society.

Static Ping said...

gadfly: You have to wonder whether or not imposing this rule is designed to avoid some kind of contract provision that would cost the ball club a hefty severance if they cut him.

Unlike the NFL, MLB contracts are all guaranteed money. If LaRoche had gotten hurt in spring training and missed the entire season, the White Sox would still have to pay him. If they cut him, they would still have to pay him even if another team picked him up (minus whatever the other team pays him, which most likely won't be much). If he still had multiple years on the contract, they would have had to pay every one of those years. There are ways to avoid paying though:

- If the contract had option years or opt out clauses, those could be executed. Not applicable in this case.
- If Adam was suspended without pay, such as a performance enhancing drug suspension or a violation of various good conduct policies.
- Sometimes teams take out insurance policies on players, which if they meet the requirements they get reimbursed. I believe that happened with the Mets and Mo Vaughn, whose knees ended his career early. The Yankees had a policy on Alex Rodriguez, which made some suggest that the Yankees wanted him to be suspended.
- If Adam voluntarily retired, which is what happened.

Adam's decision is definitely a boon to the White Sox for the reasons you state. You can get a pretty good player for $13 million a year.

Lem said...

Teaching your child is ok to break your contract over a trivial matter is not a good lesson in fatherhood. IMHO.

A contract is your word, your word is your bond.

Henry said...

Details

cyrus83 said...

The trade-off society has been making for some centuries now is to have first the fathers and now often the mothers leave the family during the day to go work for someone else in return for money. Whether that is a worthwhile trade or not is another discussion, but generally kids shouldn't be coming to work when it's not their own family's business.

LaRoche decided the trade-off of leaving his son in order to go work for someone else wasn't worth it, and made the decision to leave the money on the table as a result. He's lucky - he's likely made enough money to be in a position to turn down the extra millions. There are likely many fathers who would love to be in a position to do what he did.

Lem said...

The White Sox made a mistake. They tried to rectify the situation and Big baby LaRoche overreacted. There's a plague of big babies in major sports these days.

Static Ping said...

Late note: There is another way to get out of paying a contract, which is to have the player violate the provisions. Aaron Boone missed the entire 2004 season due to injury. He was not paid because the injury was in a pick-up basketball game, something he was explicitly not allowed to do according to the terms of the contract. If he had been injured playing baseball or in an ordinary car accident or something of that nature, he would have been paid.