ESPN’s Tim Keown did a deep dive on former White Sox 1B/DH Adam LaRoche today, the kind of purple-hued schlongread that purports to tell you the REAL STORY of LaRoche’s decision to walk away from baseball after White Sox boss Ken Williams asked him to stop bringing his son to the ballpark every day. But of course, Keown doesn’t give you the real story at all. Instead, what we have here is a slobjob that is transparent to everyone except the writer and his subject. Did I mention there are sex slaves involved? Oh yes. Come with me now down the puff piece rabbit hole:
Adam LaRoche speaks with the kind of certainty that makes doubt seem like a disease.
And that’s… a good thing? I guess? LET ME STICK MY HAND IN THIS RUNNING BLENDER WITH NO HESITATION WHATSOEVER.
He’s sitting in a house outside Phoenix…
Oh okay. We’re in Arizona. I’m fully braced for the crazy now. Mention Arizona and all the crazy just falls into place.
He’s a Kansan who speaks with an unhurried drawl that seems to have arrived from points south.
Note that KANSAN here is obvious code language for a simple, good man. A man made entirely out of diesel fuel and corn husks.
So here’s the deal: You need to forget everything you think you know about professional athletes.
Adam LaRoche is different.
Is he now?
He’s one of the stars of the reality TV show Buck Commander, in which he bow-hunts with a couple of ex-ballplayers, two country music singers and one member of the unapologetically redneck Robertson family, they of the Duck Dynasty dynasty. He also owns E3 Meat Co., which is run out of the Kansas ranch that’s been in his wife’s family for six generations.
Jesus … That’s pretty much EVERYTHING I think I know about professional athletes, especially baseball players. Like, that was my exact vision of LaRoche before you told me to go wiping it from my brain. Now I have to conjure up all the shitty hunting gear in my mind again. You’ve got a lot of nerve making me do all these needless mental gymnastics.
Then there’s this: LaRoche, along with Brewers pitcher Blaine Boyer, spent 10 days in November in Southeast Asian brothels, wearing a hidden camera and doing undercover work to help rescue underage sex slaves.
WHOA WHOA WHAT THE FUCK? Why? How? Is he Batman? Did he bring Drake to the brothels, too? I don’t trust the intentions of ANY man who hangs out in a Thai brothel for a week and a half. That’s half a Fogle right there. I have a great many questions.
After 12 years in the big leagues, the endless days and nights in dugouts and clubhouses, how did LaRoche’s nearly cinematic level of nonconformity escape detection?
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING? He’s a Christian white guy who hunts. He may as well have worn his camo gear in the locker room, he blends in so seamlessly. Dress up like Chris Tucker in The Fifth Element and hit the ballpark every day. Then I’ll buy all this nonconformity bullshit.
All right, let’s get quickly into the Drake LaRoche affair.
“I never took it for granted,” [LaRoche] says … “You could have a manager who just flat doesn’t like it. You can have players complain — Hey, we’re tired of having a kid around. There’s a chance we could have other guys see Drake and think, ‘I’ll bring my kid too.’ Obviously we can’t turn this into a day care. I get it.”
Okay. That all seems reasonable. I’m glad he gets it.
But Drake was different, he says: “the exception to the rule.”
HOLY SHIT HE DOESN’T GET IT AT ALL! “You guys, I get it. I totally get it. Now let me explain why I, the most unique and exotic creature ever to work in professional sports, am immune to all of the rules I just laid out.”
Still, a clubhouse? That fortress of testosterone-laced stupidity? The only time LaRoche — intensely religious and openly conservative — sounds wistful is when he says, “There’s no other workplace where you walk in and guys are slapping each other in the nuts and saying the stuff they do.”
Ah, yes. Bagtagging the way JESUS intended.
So that place?
“You can say, ‘That’s no place for a kid to be,’” LaRoche says. “The way I see it, he’s going to be around that regardless, unless you home-school and raise them in a bubble. I can’t think of a better place for him to be when he gets a taste of that than with me.”
Can you hear the certainty, flat and straight as a Kansas highway?
Do you get it?
FUCK NO. Getting really tired of these Kansas metaphors. “Can you feel the GRIT … as gritty as a Kansas dirt road?”
The E3 Ranch — he’s a first baseman, get it? — started as a source of meat for the LaRoche family, then Adam started giving it out to teammates. Word spread, and now E3 Meat Co. has two restaurants in Colorado and ships all-natural Black Angus across the country.
He throws his hands up. Don’t you get it?
Stop asking me to get it. So you sold some meat. Put it in your butt.
Some things can’t be explained.
You JUST explained it. Hey, this guy started a meat company and it did well. GOD’S MYSTERIES ONLY DEEPEN.
All right, let’s get to the sex slavery detour …
But what if the origin of LaRoche’s decision can be found in early November, in — of all places — the red-light districts of Southeast Asia?
Working through a nonprofit called the Exodus Road, LaRoche and Boyer conducted surveillance in brothels and tried to determine the age of the girls — known only by numbers pinned to bikinis — and identify their bosses.
Oh, well I’m sure that doesn’t endanger the girls AT ALL. Here’s a fun tidbit from another magazine that investigated vigilante abolitionist groups:
Detractors, including many health and human rights advocates, argue that stings are only as good as their ability to actually improve lives—and that they often do the opposite. “The appeal of the rescue is that it’s a happy ending,” says Janie Chuang, who teaches courses on trafficking at American University’s Washington College of Law. “But it’s not. It’s a really hard life.”
In some cases, victims are quickly cut loose because governments lack the resources or concern to assist them. Others choose to leave protective services; sometimes they fear that authorities will abuse them or that traffickers will do the same to their families. (This is to say nothing of rescued adults who weren’t trafficked at all but had chosen to be sex workers, a distinction that raid groups often fail to make.) Mother Jones found in 2003 that girls and women saved in an IJM bust in Thailand were “locked into two rooms of an orphanage by Public Welfare authorities” and were allowed outside for only one hour each day. Following up on the operation featured on Dateline, the Nation reported in 2009 that some of the rescued children were addicted to intravenous drugs and made deals with the police to keep using; at least a dozen ran away and returned to brothels. “You hear about the raid, but you don’t hear a lot about the safe houses, the rehab process,” says Gretchen Soderlund, a professor at the University of Oregon who studies trafficking.
Sometimes, the consequences can be even worse. In the same investigation, the Nation learned that IJM didn’t track minors rescued in Thailand, including young girls from Myanmar who subsequently may have been deported back to their oppressive homeland. It also found that busts in Cambodia disrupted health NGOs’ efforts to educate women and girls in brothels about HIV; pimps believed the groups had aided IJM and no longer wanted them providing care.
Got all that? But let’s go back to fucking Superman here:
“Something huge happened there for us,” Boyer says. “You can’t explain it. Can’t put your finger on it. If you make a wrong move, you’re getting tossed off a building. We were in deep, man, but that’s the way it needed to be done. Adam and I truly believe God brought us there and said, ‘This is what I have for you boys.’”
I like that Keown appears to have just taken LaRoche at his word here. “Oh, so two baseball players hung around a bunch of sex workers for 10 days and freed them, Indiana Jones-style? Sure, I believe you, you sound so certain.”
Certainty always engenders outrage. After LaRoche retired, a comment he made three years ago about education — “We’re not big on school” — was exhumed. In the binary world, it became an emblem of his independence or a sign of his remove.
You’re right. Maybe I judged him too quickly based on that one snippet.
“I said, ‘I’m not big on school,’ and I will back that up,” he says.
Nope. I was exactly right.
“I had an idea this might be my last year,” LaRoche says. “I knew this was probably our last opportunity to share time together at the field and do what we’ve always done.”
Six months. The clock ticked. The father felt it. Do you?
No. Why do you keep asking me these questions? Whoa, you’re telling me that time with kids is precious? WHY I HAD NO CLUE. Real eye-opening insight, fuckburger.
Adam remembers going to a parent-teacher conference back in Fort Scott. Jenn was out of town. He had no choice.
“Normally that’s GIRL SHIT.”
Montana’s teacher began to tell Adam about grades and test scores, how Montana was faring statewide. Adam interrupted.
“Listen, no disrespect at all, but I honestly don’t care about their grades or how they’re scoring,” he said. “All I care about is two questions: How are they treating their classmates, and how are they treating you?”
“All I care about is … How is their nut-slapping technique? ‘Cause that’s a real world skill.”
He never lived and died with the game, but you probably get that by now.
Oh yes, he’s such a special little flower. No wonder he like hit garbage last year. I’m not giving this guy points for indifference. I WANT YOU FOCUSED ON THE GAME, DEER BOY. The White Sox should get MORE of his contract money back.
Here’s another part you need to get: The more he became immersed in the game, the less of a hold it had on him.
You know what? If you need me to get it so badly, then you’re doing a shitty job of explaining it. Let ME decide if LaRoche is God’s Dad or not. You can’t just hammer away at me with DO YOU GET IT and expect me to just blindly accept all this.
I ask whether he’ll file a grievance to recoup his $13 million 2016 salary, and the look he gives me — a mixture of patience and pity — is one I imagine he reserves for a slow child.
Awwww, that’s so sweet! He treats people like slow children!
“No,” he says. “I did it. I made the final decision. And I can understand how people look at the $13 million. One, how stupid does somebody have to be? Or how selfish? Suck it up for six months, right?”
He lets the question drift. Your answer is your answer. His is something entirely different: He doesn’t need any of it — the money, the attention, the camaraderie — enough to play by someone else’s rules.
Christ. “You … fair reader who is DISEASED WITH DOUBT … You are irrelevant to this gloriously humble man!”
Here’s what ESPN needs to get: this is not a special person. There’s nothing to get here. LaRoche is probably a good and boring dude and his kids are probably fine and, in fact, I’ll even take him at his word on the sex slave heist. But he’s not special. And I’m not gonna wallow in guilt because I don’t take my kids to watch grown men snap wet towels at each other’s asses like he does. He deserves no exaltation, especially this kind of “aw shucks” humility-as-divinity writeup. That only makes me question the motivations of everyone here. Do you get it now?