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Work and family time

Thoughts turn to fatherhood as dust settles on Adam LaRoche’s retirement

LaRoche and son Associa Press/Photo by John Locher

Work and family time
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When Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche abruptly retired less than three weeks before opening day, the reason rattled clubhouses and farmhouses alike.

Citing his Christian faith, LaRoche, 36, chose to retire rather than keep his 14-year-old son, Drake, out of the clubhouse. Drake traveled much of the last five seasons with his father in Washington and Chicago. In telling LaRoche to limit Drake’s presence, executive vice president Ken Williams reportedly broke an agreement made when LaRoche signed with the White Sox in 2015.

Many around the league originally took the news as an attack on the family traditions of baseball, perhaps on good fatherhood itself. A cacophony of opinions filled pages and airwaves, fueled by contradicting reports from an angry Chicago clubhouse. Milwaukee pitcher Blaine Boyer went so far as to tell reporter Ken Rosenthal that “this is between good and evil.”

The issue even surfaced at The Gospel Coalition, where writers Mark Mellinger and Ted Kluck, a former coach and athlete, urged observers to “neither lionize nor vilify” as details emerged.

When the furor subsided, consensus settled on poor communication and conflict resolution causing some White Sox players to feel “bold-faced lied to” by management. “We wanted Drake in the clubhouse,” White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton told the Chicago Tribune.

In a rare union of work and family, a homeschooled Drake had joined the team at about 120 games last year, with his own locker. But some White Sox players reportedly thought that a bit much. “It’s great” to have kids around, Williams told The Associated Press. “I just don’t think it’s great every day.”

And when perceived slights can make instant evangelical heroes, Kluck warned Christian observers that LaRoche’s luxuries were rare, and spending time with children does not by itself a good father make. “Real fatherhood is harder,” Kluck said. “It’s about living out the implications of the gospel, seeking forgiveness, extending grace [in front of our kids].”

As players and fans head to the ballpark for the home opener, Eaton told USA Today he thinks many are reconsidering their responsibilities as fathers: “There are positives coming out of it.”

Playing it positive

Beloved Turner Sports reporter Craig Sager revealed last month his cancer has returned. It is Sager’s third bout with an aggressive form of leukemia that, he said, typically kills within three to six months if left untreated. But the 64-year-old basketball reporter—known for his wit and brightly colored wardrobe—told HBO he was “still kicking, still fighting.” He hoped to undergo a third stem cell transplant, and planned to continue his sideline assignments for Turner.—A.B.

Fantasy timeout

Daily fantasy sports giants DraftKings and FanDuel agreed on March 21 to cease taking bets in New York state, one of their largest customer bases. The companies’ deal with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who argues that daily fantasy sports betting constitutes illegal gambling, puts the onus on the state Legislature to regulate such websites by June. Otherwise, a state appeals court will step in. Piggybacking on laws designed for season-long fantasy sports, daily fantasy has blurred the lines between games of chance and skill. Many states are working to regulate the industry. —A.B.

Andrew Branch Andrew is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD correspondent.


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