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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Magglio a Goner?

Some musings on events from the past week: 

• Leave it to The Chairman:  No sooner is the ink dry on new manager Ozzie Guillen’s contract than Phil Rogers breaks the story that All-Star right fielder Magglio Ordoñez is on the trading block. 

Could we have guessed otherwise?  After all Maggs is due $14 million dollars in salary this year and it has already been revealed that The Chairman is handcuffing GM Kenny Williams with a $58-million budget for players’ salaries.   

Since Frank Thomas is already on board for $6 million, Paul Konerko another $8 million and Jose Valentin $5 million, the new budget guaranteed that a high-priced player would have to go since the remaining $25 million in the budget has to be divided twenty-one ways. 

Magglio Ordoñez should be the cornerstone around which the Sox offense of the future should be built.  Unfortunately, it appears that The Chairman is again looking at the bottom line instead of winning.  After 22 years of ownership of this club, he has yet to learn that Sox fans simply want to win.   

Unless Ordoñez is replaced by a player who is his equal or better, Sox fans will simply look at this as yet one more short-sighted business move on the part of The Chairman.  In order to dump a large salary, for which he is responsible, he will alienate still more of whatever Sox fan base remains. 

The Chairman has professed for years that he knows that a winner will bring fans back to the ball park.  This years upsurge in attendance, despite a lousy start, is further evidence of that fact.  Some of that surge can be attributed to a spike in season attendance due to the All-Star Game.  However, a sizable portion was due to huge walk-up crowds on several dates as the Sox made a run for the division championship. 

Instead of strengthening the team to actually encourage some of those season ticket holders to hang on to their seats, the Sox are cutting costs in anticipation of a revenue loss.  An acquaintance of mine has this organization summed up in this phrase:  “cheap, timid and stupid.”   

• Someone is tighter than The Chairman:  On the other hand if the Sox are that way, what does that make the Milwaukee Brewers ghost owner Commissioner Budlight?  After promising the Milwaukee voters that if they approved a new stadium the Brewers would field a competitive team, their ownership is instead trimming their budget to a measly $30 million.

By contrast, The Chairman seems to be throwing around thousand dollar bills.  Perhaps this is a ploy to somehow teach the MLB Players Association a lesson.  The union has for years opposed a salary cap, and the Commissioner and his negotiators attempted in the last round of labor-management negotiations to install one along with a salary floor. 

In a bizarre way, this could be the way ownership is sticking it to the union for not giving in on this issue.  There is already talk that the owners are engaging in some kind of collusion to keep salaries down for the 2004 season.  Perhaps ridiculously small budgets are another part of this process. 

• And on the North Side:  You have to love the Tribune Co.  Somehow they seem to have managed to get community leaders to sign off on the Cubs increasing their total of night games to thirty.  One of the incentives was that the Cubs would contribute $1,000,000 over the term of the agreement to absorb the extra costs of neighborhood crowd control. 

However the Sun-Times reported last week that the Tribune Co. now is upset that they will have to absorb those costs.  Perhaps that’s because those added expenses will drain the additional revenues the Cubs are receiving by scalping their own tickets. 


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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