I'm sure by now, even non-sports fans have heard the news about (possibly former) MLB first baseman Adam LaRoche saying he is taking a leave of absence from his current team (Chicago White Sox) and deciding on whether he's going to retire.
Why would he do this mid-spring training, where the White Sox are having a productive camp; in a hotly contested division they could easily win; leaving possibly $13 million of guaranteed money on the table? What could bring about such madness?!? The club asked him to dial back the amount of time LaRoche brought his son (Drake, 14yo) around the club house.
That's right, the Chicago brass asked LaRoche to bring his son around less. So, like never??? No, just less. I feel I may have lost some of you, so let's do a quick history on LaRoche.
Adam's dad (Dave LaRoche) was a former major league pitcher with the Chicago White Sox, and retired around the time Adam was 4yo. Dave, like many retired players, continued his baseball career as a coach, which provided Adam and his brother with the awesome opportunity to grow up in major league clubhouses. Pretty cool, right?!?
Adam had his son Drake when he was just 22yo while in the Atlanta Braves organization. He wanted to provide the same opportunity for his kids that his father did for him. Once again, AWESOME!
At age 11, Drake started joining his father full time in the clubhouse, now with the Washington Nationals. You read that right, full-time. All of spring training, and every home game; that's 81 games over six months.
So, if you're keeping score, for the last three years Adam LaRoche has provided his son with a life that is way cooler than anything any of us could ever imagine, and for the record yes, I'm totally jealous. But now, clearly at the end of his career, his current team has asked him to dial that 100% access back a bit, so that the team can focus with less distractions around, and Adam LeRoche wants to take his ball and go home.
I know some of you might be shocked at my stance on this, especially since I try and fight for dads as much as possible. But there's a fine line between dads being involved with their kids, and someone being completely unreasonable. And that's a line Adam LaRoche has crossed, and the media is doing him, and the rest of parents, no favors in the way they are framing this story.
The media has recklessly, and in my opinion, irresponsibly framed this story as one man's struggle to spend more time with his son, and the evil place of employment barring this man from doing so. They've done this with headlines like:
Adam LaRoche retired because Kenny Williams barred his son from the clubhouse ~ NBC Sports
Adam LaRoche puts family first in walking away from White Sox ~ ESPN
Both those headlines could not be further from the truth. The reality here is, a multi-millionaire baseball player, who's career is all but over, was "ASKED" to dial back the amount his son was in the clubhouse and on the field, from 100% to somewhere less than 50%, and he didn't like it, so he's threatening to quit.
Please tell me you see what's wrong with this picture? This man is not a hero. He's not breaking any molds in the parenting community. And, I'll go as far as to say, he's not helping the dad cause in one bit, in fact, I think he's setting us back a little. Because right now, all he's showing his son is, if you don't get your way, just quit; forget the the teammates, or for the rest of us who live in the real world, the coworkers that depend on you; just quit. Please, show me how this is being a great role model, or hero.
I've already been told this morning in my dad blogger community (where this conversation originated) that my views are wrong, and uninformed. However; I am happy to report the vast majority of dads in that discussion share my POV. And once again that is, Adam LaRoche is a kick-ass dad, a great dad even, who has given his son a priceless gift of growing up in a major league baseball clubhouse; Drake LaRoche's life is way cooler than ours will ever be because of what his father has provided, but he is not a hero for walking away. And he's certainly not putting family first in his decisions.
Look, I know many will not agree with my stance on this, as I have already been told this morning, but I see far too many dads, on a daily basis, fighting the REAL fight for fatherhood and family first in society.
Adam LaRoche, you're not a hero, you're a parent...act like one and do the right thing.