The White Sox have comfortably operated with unchecked weirdness outside the national spotlight for some time now, in a place where the franchise player tearing into team president Kenny Williams is variations on a theme, not breaking news.
Williams and Rick Hahn have displayed stark independence that would draw its own coverage at a marquee franchise, but ironically its Williams’ attempt to leverage that split for crisis management that has launched the franchise to the status of national curiosity.
It only made sense–if any of this makes sense–that players’ complaints prompted Williams to act and ask the Adam LaRoche to reduce his son’s presence in the clubhouse. But Williams seeing himself as the one to “take the heat” by confronting LaRoche and then the entire clubhouse–as LaRoche was stepping away from the sport in response–took the forcus off Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura too much, and instead nearly inspired a full-scale mutiny that reads as being as much about outrage over Williams taking unearned control of a clubhouse manner as it is about Drake LaRoche.
“Sale told Williams, unequivocally, to get out of the clubhouse and stay out, per a source. Williams acknowledges meeting was passionate.”
It doesn’t help that Williams actions ran counter to agreements reportedly extended to LaRoche with the approval of Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura when he came aboard, weakening the trust that agreements made with them are coming with the full backing of Williams and ownership.
The resulting blowup has enflamed supporters of LaRoche on team, making things even more tenuous for the players who privately complained in the first place, and exposed everything that the Sox would seek to hide; that a player split existed at all, that for whatever reason player complaints weren’t taken to Ventura–the man who would theoretically runs the clubhouse–or that Ventura wasn’t tasked with handling the situation himself, and has resulted in the Sox being seen league-wide and nationally as an organization unable to deftly accommodate their players desires and concerns.
It’s not as if Williams accomplished nothing with his tactic, as Daryl Van Schouwen reported, the players’ support of Ventura has survived, and is even credited with preventing a full boycott of Wednesday’s game taking place. The team can very easily hate Williams and still be a united and focused clubhouse that fights for each other.
But even then, stacked up against the cost of fraying relations and trust with one of the best players in franchise history, exposing division between the team and national embarrassment, the benefits pale in comparison, and LaRoche himself hasn’t even spoken openly on the matter yet. That, and any more fallout from new revelations into this clubhouse it brings with it, is still coming, and LaRoche’s unpredictability is what set this off in the first place.
LaRoche’s actions were shocking and unique, and this whole crisis is unbelievable; a black eye that Williams and the Sox can hardly have seen coming. But the blame for it reaching this scale still travels back to them. That’s how accountability and chain of command works, especially when you rig it up that way on purpose.
Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale // USA Today Sports Images