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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

No deal for Sox Fans

Well the end of the world as we know it never came did it?

They figured out a new labor agreement in baseball. Excuse me while I let out a big yawn.

It was fascinating to watch from afar as breathless fans postured seemingly every minute on what twists and turns were taking place..."they are closer to a settlement," then literally a minute later someone would post "theyíve hit a snag..." and this went on and on and on.

Donít misunderstand, part of me is very happy that both sides came to their senses and did something, for once, that was good for the game. But is the new agreement good for the White Sox?

Ahhhh...now thatís an interesting question.

Before we all get dreamy eyed over labor peace, letís take a closer look at this agreement and if it means that the White Sox are one iota closer to getting to a World Series.

Some questions you need to be asking:

Will the Sox ever have to pay the luxury tax?

Answer: Not as long as Jerry Reinsdorf owns the team for obvious reasons.

Will the Sox ever receive any revenue shared money to improve the club?

Answer: You may not realize it but teams have been getting shared money for the last few years. The White Sox never got a dime because they have always been roughly in the middle of the pack. Never high enough to pay and never low enough to get. As far as the new agreement is concerned, each team contributes 34 percent of its net local revenue, after deductions for ballpark expenses, to a pool that is redistributed equally to all 30 teams. The Sox will get something, but not even close to the bottom revenue clubs like Montreal, Kansas City and surprise! Milwaukee are going to be getting. Either way look for Jerry Reinsdorf to be laughing all the way to the bank instead of wondering if heíll have enough money to pay for a new pitcher.

Will the new agreement stop teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Mets and so on from spending large amounts of money and still getting the lions share of top talent?

Answer: Not really. If anybody thinks a "luxury tax" is going to stop George Steinbrenner, Rupert Murdoch or any other teams with payrolls over 100 million dollars from getting who they want, Iíve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. (By the way seven teams were over the 100 million dollar payroll mark as the season began) Even Tribune baseball writer Paul Rogers, a noted supporter of the owners, admitted the same in his column on the negotiations dated August 24th. Granted it might slow them down somewhat, but in no way will this new agreement significantly alter the balance of power. In other words donít look for a Twins / Padres World Series in 2006.

Will this new agreement force bottom revenue teams like Montreal, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and so forth to improve their clubs with the revenue shared money.

Answer: Hereís the biggest joke of them all. The answer is NO!!!!! There is absolutely no provision in the agreement that holds teams accountable for what they do with their "welfare checks," nor any punishments if they donít. Jayson Stark from ESPN.com brought up this very same question and said it could be a real problem for MLB. Itís his belief that if a club like Minnesota does nothing to improve their lot, that the fans at least will realize itís not the "system of baseball" but the greediness of club management. Small consolation isnít it? Again another scenario where the owner laughs all the way to the bank while the team loses 95 games.

Will this new agreement help the White Sox get closer to playing in a World Series?

Answer: NO! All the negotiated socialism in the world canít make up for a lack of brains and ability. Many fans claim the Yankees keep winning because of all the money they spend. Thatís true, but only to a certain extent. The Yankees certainly can afford to sign Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina more easily then other teams, but that doesnít account for Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera and so on does it? The Yankees win because they have a tremendous minor league system with top coaches and instructors. The Yankees win because George Steinbrenner hires top of the line baseball executives like Brian Cashman, and in the past Bob Watson and Gene Michaels, not inexperienced "yes" men. The Yankees win because they go out an sign Orlando Hernandez to a six year contract paying him (originally) just slightly over 1.6 million a season while the White Sox are inking Jamie Navarro to a four year, twenty million dollar disaster.

Until Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf changes his basic philosophy towards his team and starts trying to win as opposed to trying to break the players union and show whoís boss to the fans, media and player agents, NOTHING is going to be any different on the South Side. A 45 million dollar payroll, which the Sox are expected to have next season, translates into one thing and one thing only, more mediocrity.

One could reasonably argue that the Sox are now worse off under this new labor agreement because Reinsdorf now has some labor security and stability. At least with a strike destroying a season or a season and a half, there was always the chance he might finally get out and sell.

Thatís not going to happen now.

One positive thing though out of all this is the fact that when the agreement expires in the future and teams like the White Sox, Padres, Brewers, Royals, Marlins and Devil Rays aren't any closer to getting into a World Series, at least the fans won't be able to say, "it's the greedy players" who are causing baseball's problems. That much at least will br crystal clear!

As always comments, questions, and insults are always welcome. Contact me at mliptak1@ida.net


Editor's Note: †Mark Liptak is an experienced sports journalist, holding several awards for both his electronic and print media work. †He has held numerous sports reporting positions for various TV and newspaper†organizations, including Director of Sports for KNOE-TV (Monroe, Louisiana)†and KPVI-TV (Pocatello, Idaho), and sports writer for the Idaho Falls Free Press, where his column "Lip Service" has appeared for for a number of years. †"Lip", his wife, and cats presently live in Chubbuck, Idaho, where they collectively comprise 100 percent of the Pocatello River Valley's long-time Sox Fan population.

More features from Mark Liptak here!

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