I stopped watching the White Sox at some point last year. Part of it was because the Cubs were so good in comparison, and so much more fun to watch. The Sox were a disaster. Boring. Losers. And the epitome of that lousy play and lack of personality was Adam LaRoche.
Funny, I was going to write a post anyway today about baseball. It wasn't about the White Sox, my childhood team of choice. It wasn't about LaRoche. It was about Willie Mays. Why? Well, we've lost a few rock stars lately. Glen Frey, David Bowie, Keith Emerson, to name a few. When I was a kid, baseball players were rock stars. Willie was mine.
I've told the story many times. I ran into Willie about 10 years ago in the San Francisco Admirals Club. He was having some kind of drink at the bar. I don't remember what it was, and it doesn't matter. But, I offered to buy him another and he accepted. I sat on the empty stool next to his and told him "Willie, when I was a little kid I read your biography, written by a writer by the name of (I've forgotten now)," and Willie said "I remember him." I told Willie after reading the book he became my hero and I was so glad to be able to tell him that. He was very appreciative and I'm sure as good as that made him feel to hear that from a lifelong fan, it made me feel so good to be able to do that and to tell the story to this day.
See, baseball in those days was about the game, the talent, the personality. The things I remember about Willie's story? He went hitless his first twenty-one at bats. His manager, Leo Durocher, asked him something about Willie Mays, and Willie, innocent as he was, answered "I'm the onliest Willie Mays I know." (I know, it's partially fiction, but that's part of the personality thing). And, Willie used to call out to people saying "Say hey!" He did that because he couldn't remember people's names. But, it stuck. He became the "Say Hey Kid." And me, sometimes when I see someone I'll just say "Say hey." It's not because I don't know their name. I just like saying "Say hey."
So, what's this got to do with the White Sox and Adam LaRoche? Everything. Millions of people who five days ago had no idea who this guy is now know. And, I'll bet you haven't heard the last of him. Because, let me tell you, he's not about #Familyfirst as he tweeted the other day when he walked out on his teammates. He's about "building the kingdom." Don't take my word for it. Just Google Idols Aside Ministries. Or Google Adam LaRoche and Duck Dynasty, or Adam LaRoche and Willie Robertson.
Look, I'm not making light of anyone's faith, religion, beliefs, or what and who they worship. No way. I respect everyone and everything. I just happen to find the whole "thanking my Lord and Savior" over a victory a little unnerving because I doubt He wants the other guys to lose. And, I just wish sports, and baseball in particular, would get back to being more about the game than the faith-based part of it.
And, that, my Friends, is why Chris Sales and the rest of the White Sox are so upset with White Sox management (Kenny Williams). You see, Adam LaRoche, who played one year for the White Sox, horribly I should add, I suspect pretty much spent that one year with the team preaching the Gospel. Now, I'm just a fan, I have never been on the field or in the clubhouse. I just know that when the White Sox held their first Faith Day last August, it was LaRoche, Zach Duke (a pitcher), and Willie Robertson, of "Duck Dynasty" fame, and a partner of LaRoche, who preached to those of the crowd who chose to stay after the game that Sunday.
And, as Adam Eaton, a White Sox player and team representative, and seemingly a really good guy, said in a radio interview today, LaRoche helped him get through the most difficult time of his career last year. But wait, he's defending LaRoche now when he walked out on the team because management asked, suggested, or demanded LaRoche dial it back with bringing his kid into the clubhouse every single day?
I'm not going to reset the story. It's already played out after less than a week. It would be over, except I bet you Adam LaRoche and his son will show up on some interview shows telling their story, and the story won't be #familyfirst.
The biggest mistake the White Sox made was not in whatever Williams said to LaRoche about his kid. No. The biggest mistake they made was signing the guy in the first place. Not a thing to do with his faith. I couldn't care less. He came to the team in 2015 all washed up and they paid him $12 million last year. Then, he walked out on them all, including his teammates, this week in a snit. And, I hope the Sox aren't forced to give the guy another nickel. And Chris Sale, as much as I love you, your passion, and your talent, you're a kid. Get over it.
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Filed under: Baseball