I can't say I expected Jerry Reinsdorf's statement regarding L'Affaire LaRoche to lay into any particular member of the White Sox, whether at the player, coach or executive level. Sure, the Tom Thibodeau exit statement opened the door for a surprise attack, but that's been the exception in recent memory for either the White Sox or Bulls. That's probably a wise decision given the way the Bulls look this year.
Even by those lowered expectations, though, the message the White Sox just released offers no specific insight. Really, at the surface level, one might think he's trying to cram everything back into a bottle and pretend it never happened.
I doubt that's the case, because certainly enough time elapsed to have a decent conversation with all parties involved. But reading a little deeper into it, it seems to absolve Kenny Williams more than it does the players who overreacted.
Here's the full text from Reinsdorf so you can draw your own conclusions:
I have taken the past few days to personally meet with everyone involved, including Adam LaRoche, members of our front office, uniformed staff and some of our active players. I continue to have nothing but the greatest regard for Adam – in fact, my respect for him has grown during this process -- and I applaud his desire to spend more time with his family.
I continue to have complete faith in the skills and abilities of the leadership group of our baseball operations department in Ken Williams, Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura. I also appreciate the passion and commitment to one another shown by our players, Robin, our coaching staff and our front office. As with many things in life, much of this was a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding rather than this being a case of anyone not telling the truth. I do not believe there is anyone to directly blame in this situation. While there is no doubt this might have been handled differently, the fact remains that this is an internal matter that we have discussed and now resolved.
Per my request, White Sox employees will no longer discuss this matter publicly. I felt it was appropriate to release this statement to close the issue for everyone in the organization – from the front office to the players in the clubhouse – so we can focus on Opening Day and winning baseball games for our fans. I am fully confident this matter will soon be behind us and that we will grow even stronger and more united as a team and as an organization.
For me, the most crucial line sits in the second paragraph:
As with many things in life, much of this was a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding rather than this being a case of anyone not telling the truth.
Considering Williams was the only one publicly accused of outright lying, this reads like a defense of his course of action. That's not surprising -- it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume Reinsdorf was one of those who talked to USA Today's Bob Nightengale about the controversy, and the resulting story was charitable to Williams' case. If that's what happened, then it reaffirms the idea that some White Sox players and/or coaches complained, even if none of them have come forward publicly. Given the reaction of Sale, there's no winning in doing so.
At any rate, the close of Reinsdorf's statement seems optimistic at best, as there's too much unresolved business. Chris Sale's verbal assaults on Williams sounded like they came from a pretty deep place, so visceral that LaRoche's retirement couldn't possibly have been the source for all the venom. Likewise, the players might know (or try to sniff out) the parties responsible for the dissension about the presence of LaRoche's son Drake. And while Williams might have had good "bad cop" intentions for being the hatchet man, he rendered Robin Ventura and Rick Hahn rather irrelevant in the proceedings as the situation spiraled out of control.
This judgment from Reinsdorf will likely steer the Sox clear of the most disastrous scenario -- picture Drake LaRoche as Franz Ferdinand, basically -- but there's no real sense of the chain of command after Williams strong-armed the situation, which is a key contributor to the environment that blew up something so small. Think back to the cold war between Williams and Ozzie Guillen. Reinsdorf's mediation only postponed the inevitable, because it didn't restore respect between the parties -- it only temporarily silenced them. Executive orders, whether from Williams or Reinsdorf, might get things done in an emergency, but they don't do much to ensure continuity.