By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) The other day, I was feeling all backed up.
We’ve all been there. All day, feeling not quite right and bloated, usual constitutional not going to plan whatsoever. Ruins the whole mojo of the day really.
So I’m sour all day, and Murphy’s Law is catching me extra hard with every little micro-annoyance magnified, and it’s all because of a plumbing issue. I refuse to chalk it up to the giant bucket of taco meat and corn and rice that I ate with Dorito utensils because that would make me hesitate to make it again.
But I’m alive, so we all know how it ends. Afterward, there was relief, and my world was back on its proper axis.
Such is the bowel movement that comes to mind when I ponder the Chicago White Sox. On Wednesday, I happened to catch former White Sox and current San Francisco Giants minor league contract infielder Jimmy Rollins answering questions regarding the dysfunction during his brief time in Chicago last season.
“It was a clubhouse in disarray after that point, although we did great, we did great (early on),” Rollins told Courtney Cronin of the Bay Area News Group. “It was just, you know, there’s always a little players-versus-the front office (mindset), but I think just because of the way it was handled that a lot of the guys that were outspoken are no longer there. They’re in better places if you ask me, but they’re no longer there.”
“That point” was the sudden retirement of Adam LaRoche last March after he was told his son, Drake, could no longer be part of a professional working environment that is a baseball clubhouse. Rumors have hovered since then that a few players at the time — perhaps even Rollins — took issue with a child being in their workspace every day and had complained to powers that be.
At the time, Rollins didn’t seem all that busted up about losing the older LaRoche.
“He has done well for himself in the game and he said he had enough,” Rollins told the Chicago Tribune soon after LaRoche’s retirement. “Once you get to that point, it’s hard to talk a guy out of that. They know what they have to get through to get prepared every single day to play, what the offseason is like.
“And he has a family that he cares about. And he spends a lot of time away from his family. Now he gets to enjoy his Fourth of July and travel around the country and do the things he wants to do in his retirement.”
Fast forward to Wednesday, and that lack of sorrow over LaRoche retiring because his kid couldn’t live in a fantasy camp is still evident in Rollins.
“Maybe my third day there and the funny part was, when Adam came in, I had just went to the bathroom so I didn’t hear anything,” Rollins told the Bay Area News Group. “And I came out and like, ‘He’s retiring.’ I’m like, ‘Why is everybody so sad?’ You celebrate a guy retiring. He had a great career and he made his decision. Then I found out why and then… chaos.”
Much of that chaos involved ace left-hander Chris Sale, who blasted both executive vice president Kenny Williams and former manager Robin Ventura in the media — over losing a liability hitter and his kid — without repercussion from the organization. It was the start of a long season that felt constipated the whole way. Rollins gained his freedom from the cancerous intestine with the team releasing him in June, so he wasn’t around when Sale went full-on child himself last July and cut up team jerseys that he didn’t want to pitch in in conjunction with a promotion. Sale was traded in December for a haul in return from the Boston Red Sox this offseason. Shipped off in another steal of a deal by general manager Rick Hahn was outfielder Adam Eaton, a Drake defender and a player annoying enough to make the pretty easygoing Todd Frazier move his locker. He’ll now be a sentient motivational poster with the Washington Nationals.
Eaton’s a good ballplayer, and Sale is one of the game’s most dominant starting pitchers. Yet to lose guys like that in a blowup process to commence a rebuild, there’s a sense of cool satisfaction — even with the White Sox entering the 2017 season with the worst odds to win the American League pennant and World Series, per Vegas.
It’s not unlike a quick but really painful episode in the bathroom in order to finalize a much longer period of discomfort that had to be done with and was exacerbating every other little negative aspect about the team. The talent on the South Side is far less than that of 2016, and it still may decrease as the season goes on and more players like left-hander Jose Quintana and closer David Robertson are possibly sold for prospects. But as the White Sox start up spring training this week, along with an actual big boy plan for the first time since winning a championship before some junior high kids were born, there’s a quiet relief to this team of which not much is expected.
I’ll take a healthier feeling of being regular even though it means swallowing the tasteless fiber of a rebuild. It beats a knotted-up colon that was 2016.
Regarding that chaos, Rollins added, “Don’t have to worry about that here (with the Giants).”
Well, we shouldn’t have to worry about it this year with the White Sox either. At least that feels good.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.