It's hard to tell if the White Sox' lone off day of the spring was fortuitous or unfortunate. They didn't have to face reporters as the saga of Adam LaRoche's retirement remained anything but resolved, giving everybody involved a day to regroup and think about forming some kind of united front.
Yet the silence allowed the news to spread further (it's now an international story for non-sports audiences), and tales of closed-door tantrums and potential boycotts allowed theories to flow freely in the absence of new, on-the-record information.
On 670 The Score, for instance, Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers spent much of their show trying to figure out who raised the topic of Drake LaRoche's omnipresence to Kenny Williams (who they say had already asked LaRoche to dial back his son's visibility entering spring training). The mill's churning kept coming back to new veterans, which, as lisas523 noted in our discussion, put a new spin on the lede of David Haugh's mess of a column ....
On the day shortstop Jimmy Rollins joined the White Sox last month in Glendale, Ariz., 13-year-old Drake LaRoche sat at his father Adam's locker in the corner of the clubhouse and wrapped black tape around a bat handle.
Putting on a "LAROCHE 25" jersey on his back, the teenager looked like any other Sox player getting ready for the day's workout — except he doesn't drive or shave yet. As Rollins, 37, greeted new teammates, he did a double take and you wondered if he thought young LaRoche was his new double-play partner.
See what I mean?
If this is the case, then it's an inauspicious beginning for the theme of the offseason. The White Sox brought in a diverse group of veterans, and incumbents anticipated that their influence would be felt ... yet they somehow didn't expect that influence to be incongruous with the way the team is used to operating, which is pretty much the point of the whole thing.
You can credit Williams for reinforcing their plan with muscle, but only so far. For one, I have the feeling that Williams secretly enjoys locking horns, akin to Will Ferrell's "Evil Boss" ("Ohhhhhh, Chris Sale! I love it! I am actually gonna MURDER you!"). More significantly, it adds confusion to the whole power structure, rendering Robin Ventura a non-entity more than anybody in this matter, and it's not like his presence has been all that defined, either.
The hope is that this is an exorcism necessary for turning the page, but it just doesn't reflect well on what has or hasn't been built since the last purge at the toxic end of the Ozzie Guillen era.
Right now, it's kinda following the arc of a restaurant rescue show, complete with the screaming. I can imagine Rollins, Frazier or Alex Avila rolling up and spending the first few weeks observing the establishment and noting the deficiencies, which the staff attempts to rationalize.
"Why is the cook also waiting tables?"
"Because our server called in sick and we're short on people."
"Why is a child sitting in an open refrigerator?"
"He likes to read in there."
Then come the suggestions, which are often virulently opposed for stubbornness' sake. Fortunately, the highest-ups appear to be implementing the suggestions earnestly, perhaps to the point of overzealously. More often than not, though, the business is already too far gone to reverse, and it folds in a couple months.
The good(?) news is that, even with this analogy, this story is too absurd to chart a course from. In the interim, we're going to learn a little more about Ventura's ability to relate to players, since a sizable chunk of his roster might not trust anybody above him. Talking his troops out of a rumored boycott is a start, but that's merely maintaining the minimum of professional obligations. Reestablishing a sense of progress after the acrimony is a taller task. The world awaits to see what happens next, improbably.