This is one of the few times I'll branch out a bit on here and write about something that isn't focused primarily on the Texas Rangers, but given current events, it seems only appropriate.
In case you haven't seen yet, the Chicago White Sox appear to imploding before the season even begins. Adam LaRoche has abruptly retired this week over team president Kenny Williams telling him that his son needed to be in the clubhouse less often.
It's turned into not only a firestorm of wondering who said what, but a debate on how families fit into baseball. For the record, I'm on board with players and coaches being able to have their families around. After all, in less than three weeks, those players will being a 162-game journey that involves being on the road at least half of the time. And that doesn't include any postseason considerations. So, when family time is available, by all means guys should take advantage of it.
We could probably go back and forth all arguing our points as to which side is "right" in this situation, but that isn't what this is for. For every bullet-point in favor of Adam LaRoche doing the "noble" thing, there's another that points in some general direction of "avoiding distractions". And let's be clear, this has become a distraction for the White Sox.
No, LaRoche's son isn't the distraction here. The disctraction is the firestorm that all of this has created. The debate not only all over the Internet, television, and radio waves, but within the very confines of the one place that is meant to be sacred to a ball club: the clubhouse.
And at the root of it is a point: This is why rules exist. Not to keep players from seeing their families. Not to "babysit" grown men and tell them how to raise their children or how much to be -- or not to be -- involved in their upbringing. It's to keep scenarios just like this one from ever needing to pop up.
When a team has specific rules regarding when family is and isn't allowed in a clubhouse, and when those rules are thereby enforced upon everyone, there's zero confusion. None. There's no reason for anyone to be upset. There's no reason for players to maybe but maybe not go over the head of their manager and general manager to talk to the club president about the issue. There's no need for the star pitcher to then have a shouting match with said president as Chris Sale is reported to have done.
I can't speak for the White Sox, but the Rangers do have specific rules on this. According to Evan Grant, the rules are that 90 minutes before the game, it's Rangers personnel only. Everyone else must clear out. And that only makes sense.
And let's be clear: No one is arguing against players -- or coaches, for that matter -- having families involved in their baseball lives. The season is simply too long to expect guys to stick to a rigid and, at times, mundane schedule with no time to enjoy life and soak it all in.
As a matter of fact, I remember one of the coolest moments I saw with the Rangers was back in 2009. The Rangers played a double-header against Oakland at home on a Friday, winning both games. As is the tradition in Arlington, there were post-game fireworks. Right there after the game, stadium lights off, players filtered back out onto the field with their families to enjoy the fireworks display. The moment that resonated for me was seeing Michael Young sit in front of the Texas dugout with his children.
I'm fairly certain that this was a pretty common occurrence, but it stayed in my mind nonetheless. And at the end of the day, as long as there is no distraction, it's no problem. Then, just like any other job, there's a time to go to work and be prepared to do whatever it is your job calls for you to do that day. For those 25 men in the clubhouse, their job is baseball. It may not seem like a "job" to you and I, but these men are among the best in their sport, and for them, there are times when it's necessary to be all business.
With the proper rules in place, there is no distraction like the one currently turning the Chicago White Sox against themselves at multiple levels within the organization. And although he's only been around for a little over a year, it's things like this that make me very glad that Jeff Banister is the manager of the Texas Rangers.