Mr. Baseball Meets Mr. Mom

Drake LaRoche, the son of recently (very recently) retired big leaguer Adam LaRoche, has the issue of kids in the workplace front and center.  However it’s interesting to me that there’s not been more about what was going on, and not just the manner in which it abruptly ended thanks to Chicago White Sox upper management.

Across America, 95% of the working class have jobs which preclude a parent, to varying degrees, from toting their child along to work as they would a snack.  So is it odd for LaRoche to drag his school aged kid to his place of business and pick him out a locker? Does it come across pampered, or at the least entitled, for LaRoche to take his ball and go home when it’s decided the persistent hanging around of his child, to the point he has his own locker, needs to be slightly dialed back?

LaRoche is not an underpaid, underappreciated intern, but a veteran employee, making a hefty paycheck for what he does.  Because of which, my inclination is to say his status and compensation entitle his employer to the expectation of maximum professionalism.  But on the other hand, because of his value, or clout, does that entitle him to house his family in the equipment room if he so chooses? Make no mistake, unless you’re a teacher with your child a student, there is no universe that you can spin bringing your kid to work as professional. Nuh-uh…

What requirements are there for the team and management regarding children in their locker room?  Do they need to hire child care professionals for staff?  What if Drake gets a toothache while his dad is out shagging fly balls? Should they have people ready to tend to the children of their players, perhaps toting them around in a pinstriped Baby Bjorn?

Somewhere in that clubhouse, maybe quite introspectively, there have to be players pleased they don’t have to watch their language or actions, and can cut loose without worrying if LaRoche’s kid is in earshot of a crass comment. I’ve never been a professional athlete in a team sport, but as an amateur at the local 24 Hour Fitness, I can attest that there is a certain sanctity to a locker room or clubhouse that is disrupted by outsiders, particularly someone not a peer. And if one player was less comfortable, going to work each day with the omnipresence of LaRoche’s kid in the clubhouse, that is one too many.

On the other hand, there’s likely a Coleman water cooler coming to the realization that the buffer protecting it from the business end of a bat-wielding tirade, just emptied out his locker and retired along with his father.

Largely going unmentioned, is whether or not spending his childhood in this company, instead of amongst peers and in school in the best interest of young Drake LaRoche?  Where is he learning peer group socialization? Drake is home-schooled, so spending his summers with grown men in a locker room seems to me as further limiting his exposure to the world beyond his home.

Interesting that for years the debate raged as to whether or not women belonged in a locker room as reporters. That issue still has flare ups of awkwardness and a poll of 10 professional athletes might not yield a unanimous response.  Yet a child, spending so much time in one that he necessitates his own locker, isn’t a concept striking anyone as awry?

What is the perspective of a teacher or child psychologist, someone qualified to discern a healthy from a “limited,” environment and upbringing? The kid doesn’t go to school, and if he’s in clubhouses to the point of having his own locker….where and when does he get to interact with his peer group? Not the one’s that are grown men with dip in their mouths, but the group of booger eaters eating Cracker Jack’s in the stands, while he’s grabbing towels for grown men in an MLB clubhouse….which holds the only locker he’s ever known.

The more I think about this…the more it doesn’t seem right on a lot of levels. When I first heard the specifics, there were some red flags but I kind of overlooked them. But in hindsight, this doesn’t seem like a healthy way to raise a healthy and well-adjusted adult. A team mascot…sure, but not a child. When Drake finally leaves the nest and goes to college…something tells me it won’t be more than a stone’s throw from where he can go do laundry at home on the weekends.

I’m sure they’ve got a great father/son relationship. And who am I to tell Adam LaRoche what is best for his kid. But it just seems a bit extreme…..home schooled, attached like a fungus to the ball club. That’s a pretty cool story to retell when you’re older….but is it a childhood? The story may become rehab or jailhouse lore, rather than grandpa’s tales of yesteryear. Maybe not…..but parents aren’t friends. We can be our child’s friend, but that’s a secondary or even more removed role. When I go to work, be it in a call center, a law office or a baseball clubhouse, I need to be able to focus 100% on my job. “Leave your crap at the door, and don’t bring it to the workplace…..when you’re here, it’s all business.” How can that possibly be the case when you’re attention is divided between bringing home the bacon and bringing up baby?

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