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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Kenny's Wise Move

by Guy Bacci

When the dust settled on The Biggest Trade That Never Happened, I was shocked to discover the two characters I had garnered the most respect for were Alex Rodriguez and Kenny Williams. For different reasons, Rodriguez and Williams came out of the craziness looking professional and savvy, which is more than can be said for some of the other clowns involved -- namely, Boston president Larry Lucchino, who tried to pit A-Rod against the playerís union, and agent Scott Boras, who blamed the debacle on the Rangers and Red Sox. ††

My feelings toward A-Rod have always been rocky at best. As a young intern who frequented the Marinersí clubhouse in the mid-90s, I was always impressed with Rodriguezís willingness to talk with the media. He was a shining contrast to the dark and brooding Ken Griffey Jr., who sat just a few lockers away. But I wasnít naÔve enough to assume A-Rod would forever remain a smiling beacon of helpful sound bites. When A-Rod replaced Griffey as Seattleís star, his reputation as a nice-guy slowly faded. Fans started to sense a shift in his attitude, often calling talk radio to report incidents of his prima-donna behavior. Eventually, Pay-Rod would show his true colors, rejecting a lucrative multi-year offer from the perpetually play-off bound Mariners for an insanely lucrative decade-long offer from the perpetually garbage-can bound Rangers.†

Which is why I canít understand the recent sympathy toward Alex the Great. Didnít he willingly sign a contract to play for a team that everyone knew wasnít going to be competitive for at least five years? Didnít he willing leave a team that was up-and-coming for a team that was down-and-sinking? Yes on both accounts. Then why did the majority of the media instantly attack the playerís union for squashing the deal, claiming A-Rodís situation is unique and that the trade would be good for baseball? †

As White Sox fans, we know the answer. The media is still having wet dreams over last seasonís near Cubs/Red Sox World Series. Itís as if the world believes the best thing for baseball would be to have the Cubs and Red Sox in the Series every year. But thereís a huge logical flaw in the belief that success for the adorable Cubs and Red Sox is generally ďgoodĒ for baseball. What if the Red Sox had won it all last season? Would anyone care about A-Rod going to Boston right now? Once Boston sheds the curse of the Bambino, and the Cubs wipe out the curse of the Billy Goat, the rest of the country will terminate its love affair with the lovable losers. Boston may quickly become as despised as the Yankees. †

What is truly good for baseball is to have all teams remain competitive. In the end, what is good for baseball is for Tom Hicks to keep his superstar and build around him wisely. (This does not include large contracts to worthless pitchers such as Chan Ho Park, who doesnít know the meaning of strike zone, and only succeeded in the past thanks to the large confines of Dodger Stadium.)†

Thankfully, the playerís union can see beyond one fantastical Cubbie/Boston World Series. Itís the unionís job to take care of its members today and ten years from now. Regardless of the mediaís belief that A-Rodís situation is† unique, the union treats all its members equally. In this instance, the unionís actions were a major victory for the fans of Texas, and every other team thatís not Boston, the Yankees or the Cubs.†

Kudos to A-Rod for standing by his union, and being repelled by Bostonís slimy tactics. According to Peter Gammons of ESPN, A-Rod lost some desire to play for the Red Sox after Lucchinoís recent comments. Lucchino implied that Rodriguez (and even Mrs. Rodriguez!) was disgusted with the playerís union for rejecting the deal. A-Rod instantly issued a press release in support of the union. Sorry, Larry, it seems not everyone enjoys bending over for Boston.†

On the home front, the White Sox were rumored to be heavily involved in the talks. Yet Kenny Williams held his cards as close to his vest as possible throughout the madness. We know that Magglio Ordonez probably would have been dealt, and we know that Jose Valentin possibly would have been traded if a deal to send Nomar Garciaparra to LA fell through. But whatís great about Williamsí secrecy is that we donít know anything for sure. The Chicago Tribune reported the Ordonez deal had broke down in recent days. When Seattle signed Freddie Garcia, the rumored deal with Valentin appeared to be a farce. Nobody knows what was going to happen, which means nobody has to have his feelings hurt. Unlike the situation in Boston, where a lot of public apologizes are going to be necessary, the White Sox and Kenny Williams did their best not to ruffle any feathers. Williams has gone out of his way to suggest the Sox may open spring training with no new additions to the roster. We all know that wonít happen, but whatís the harm in Williams protecting the fragile egos of his current players?†

The deal finally appears dead.. Regardless of the final outcome, I thank Alex Rodriguez for exposing Boston brass as the obnoxious East Coasters that they are. And I thank Kenny Williams for trying to keep a degree of harmony in a historically tumultuous White Sox clubhouse.†

If I were Williams, Iíd hang on to Ordonez, just to teach everyone a lesson. You canít string other teams along and get away with it. The world doesnít revolve around the Boston Red Sox. †

Just ask Alex Rodriguez.


Guy Bacci is from the north suburbs of Chicago, where he couldn't avoid growing up as a pampered and snotty Cubs fan. Luckily, he saw the light in 1985 and never looked back.† He loved the hard-working, old-school tactics of Carlton Fisk, who would become his all-time favorite player.† His most memorable moment was going to a Sox double-header with his grandfather, who insisted on staying all nine hours (including a long rain delay).† Guy is a journalism grad from Northwestern, currently residing in Seattle, where he works as a computer programmer and freelance writer. He can be reached at guybacci@yahoo.com.

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