The White Sox considered boycotting yesterday’s game over the Adam LaRoche situation

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More details are emerging about the events leading up to Adam LaRoche’s retirement following Ken Williams’ request that he bring his son Drake to the clubhouse less often. The highlights:

As I said this morning, this whole situation doesn’t add up and none of these updates makes the math work any better. If Drake’s presence was part of the deal, Williams need not have worried about setting a precedent. He could simply tell future players “nope.” If every single person who actually works in the clubhouse — including manager Robin Ventura — was on board with this, there is no other reason for Williams to have intervened.

There are a couple of things which would explain all of this better:

  1. Ken Williams simply being on a power trip in which he decided, for no reason that affected him personally, to ask LaRoche to give up something he negotiated for in his contract and which Williams would have to know would lead to an emotional reaction from LaRoche; or
  2. A player or a few players complained to Williams anonymously about Drake LaRoche’s presence and Williams, in an effort to not have the clubhouse torn apart, decided to appease those players while taking all of the heat for the decision himself. Yes, there are reports that the “entire clubhouse” is on LaRoche’s side here, but no one is taking a poll of 25 guys. It’s possible that someone complained and then sat quietly in the meeting, not wanting to be responsible for the strife.

Another theory some of you have offered in comments is, I think, a pretty far-fetched one: that the White Sox were just trying to antagonize LaRoche into retiring to save $13 million. Sorry, can’t buy that one. There is no way they could be sure ANY course of action, up to and including treating him like George Costanza when he worked for Play Now, could be reasonably certain to make LaRoche retire. This isn’t sitcom or a some melodrama where the White Sox are scheming and sinister actors. I can’t really feature that one at all.

What I can feature are the very human motivations possessed by players not liking their clubhouse vibe but not wanting to create waves. I can feature the motivation of a senior executive with unassailable job security deciding to take the heat for something which other players or maybe a manager couldn’t take. While less likely, I could see that same executive acting unilaterally to feed a power trip, but that doesn’t square with what he should’ve known to be Adam LaRoche‘s contractual rights.

I said this morning that this all seems fishy. It seems even more fishy now.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.