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cheeses_h_rice
08-20-2002, 09:04 AM
:moron

It gives me ample, I mean NO, pleasure, having to report the following...by the way, like my dig at the empty blue seats?


http://www.suntimes.com/output/mariotti/cst-spt-jay20.html

Strike may be Sox' death knell

August 20, 2002

BY JAY MARIOTTI SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

See the empty blue seats, the short hot-dog lines, the mere trickle of activity in the neighborhood. Notice the scarcity of proven arms, the albatross contract of a Pouting Thomas, the problem spots in the lineup. Feel an emptiness, an apathy, a grim sense that the White Sox no longer matter much.

And tell me: How would this franchise survive another work stoppage?

The 1994 baseball strike reduced the Sox from a hot ticket to a cold, wet noodle. A strike next week ultimately might kill them altogether. Long-term viability isn't an issue for the Cubs, who are entrenched like never before as Chicago's No. 1 team and will weather any labor storm as long as ivy grows and beer flows at beautiful Wrigley Field. But a much shakier, gloomier future would face the Sox, who once again rank in the bottom third of big-league attendance and have wasted two glorious windows of opportunity--good, young ballclubs in the early '90s and in 2000--to become an underachieving, mediocre, lifeless blob.

I almost believe chairman Jerry Reinsdorf when he claims he doesn't want another strike, contrary to his hawkish stance of eight years ago. Perhaps even he realizes his franchise would be an endangered species should the sport grind to another bitter halt. Few clubs took a bigger popularity hit than the Sox following the 1994-95 labor impasse. With Reinsdorf front and center as one of the hard-line owners, fans were mortified when a first-place, high- interest team was lost amid the strike ashes. Here was that special season Soxdom had lusted for, capable of producing the impossible dream of a Chicago World Series. Exciting players, coupled with a new ballpark in an old-fashioned sports town, suddenly gave the Sox a larger profile and bigger gate figures than the Cubs. The South Side had it going on.

Only to have it turned off so rudely on Aug. 12, 1994. The Sox haven't been the same since, slowing to a crawl on local radar screens, and if they are subjected to another season-ending crusher by Bud Selig and Donald Fehr, it's fair to wonder if a smallish base of Sox fans will grow so disgusted that they'll fade away. Even if Reinsdorf isn't centrally involved in these negotiations, they'll still blame him, just as they have for the ghastly upper deck, the absence of nightlife development in Bridgeport, the lack of foresight in not pushing for a stadium site in the South Loop and a White Flag trade that doesn't look so clever after all. Another work stoppage might burn down the house forever, which probably explains why Reinsdorf was so quick to discount a Los Angeles Times report--authored by respected baseball writer Ross Newhan--that said he was playing his usual role as Selig's behind-the-scenes power broker.

"I think Jerry was so vilified in 1994 that he has made a conscious effort to stay out of it this time,'' said Dennis Gilbert, the former agent who serves as Reinsdorf's adviser and occasional mouthpiece. "He has no desire for any kind of work stoppage. He wants a settlement.''

Without one in the next 10 days, the Sox eventually might be looking at the ugliest C-word in sports. Contraction is the exclusive baggage of two franchises right now, including the feel-good Minnesota Twins, who have defied Selig and shamed the Sox with a sensational run currently on display at Comiskey Park. But a strike could lead to the placing of more teams on death row. The Sox wouldn't be next on the candidates list, not with local broadcast revenues estimated at $30.1 million last season, ranking sixth in the majors. But they wouldn't be far down the line, either.

A strike would turn Comiskey into a morgue in 2003 (or beyond), with an already modest season-ticket base possibly shrinking to 5,000. Fewer fans and less revenue mean a punier payroll, making it tough to re-sign Magglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle--particularly if the Sox are stuck paying almost $40 million to dazed-and-confused Frank Thomas through 2006. No standout players mean a losing product and zero interest. Comiskey would be a big white elephant, with Reinsdorf the last one left to turn out the lights. He loves baseball too much to sell the Sox, but might contraction be up his alley? That way, no one else would get his team. Oh, and he would benefit from a larger windfall than he would selling the Sox, just as Twins owner Carl Pohlad is far better off financially if his team is contracted.

The triumph of the division-champion Twins--what the heck, just give it to them--only makes the Sox' plight more painful. There is no purpose in the home dugout, just a bundle of questions about Thomas' future, Jerry Manuel's diminishing energy level, Ken Williams' incompetence, another infusion of kids and where a couple of starting pitchers can be found without money to spend. In the visitors' dugout, the Twins are Exhibit A in how to do baseball business the right way. Even as Selig downgrades and dismisses them as "an aberration,'' which reminds me of the old-lady owner of the Cleveland Indians in "Major League,'' they have built a contender from within. Most of their core players, including MVP candidate and noted Barry Bonds-robber Torii Hunter, are products of an excellent farm system. Funny how low-budget charmers like the Twins and Oakland A's keep popping up every summer, proving that a keen eye for talent works in small markets as well as large markets.

"He said we couldn't compete,'' Hunter said of Bud Light. "We made him eat his words on that.''

Alas, the clock is ticking on the Twins' future. Their last day on earth could be a week from Friday. The political climate in Minnesota never has warmed to building new stadiums for rich sports owners, which should be viewed as a virtue, not a curse. But without a new ballpark to replace the baseball-quirky Metrodome, Selig says baseball is doomed in the Twin Cities. "I have a son younger than the Metrodome,'' said Jesse Ventura, the outgoing Governor Body. "There are still trees outside the stadium small enough to have tape around them. If Bud Selig wants a new stadium, he can build it himself.''

No chance. He won't because taxpayers built Miller Park in Milwaukee. He won't because taxpayers built Comiskey Park for Reinsdorf. He won't because greed has overtaken the game, with both sides guilty as charged.

"It would suck to have our season stopped by a strike,'' said Denny Hocking, the Twins' player representative. "But this team understands that we will benefit one way or the other. If we have to put this year on hold for your personal agenda, then so be it. We would be better off later in our careers.''

All of which makes Aug. 30 look increasingly bleak. For some teams, it represents doomsday. Who ever thought one of them might be the Chicago White Sox?

Viva Magglio
08-20-2002, 09:17 AM
This guy is a moron, and all of Chicago knows it. The fact that he wrote this has me convinced that the White Sox will live forever somehow.

duke of dorwood
08-20-2002, 09:29 AM
He is too dumb to realize that season tickets will not shrink next year, because of the chance to get All Star tickets. The year after would be the drop off, unless this team is good in 2003. And I dont see that. His only correct statement was that Williams is incompetent. Manual NEVER had energy.

raul12
08-20-2002, 10:50 AM
i found it funny how he says that the chubbies are viable as long as ivy grows and beer flows...interesting how it has nothing to do with the *****ty team on the field. they could have an opera on the field, and all the drunks wouldn't know the difference.

i have to admit the moron was right on another point--the sox absolutely wasted their opportunity to take over this town following the 2000 campaign. if we could have won 3 division titles in a row (including this year), this town would me much more of sox town, even though it would have included many thousand ignorant bandwagoners.

rmusacch
08-20-2002, 02:53 PM
Originally posted by ˇViva Mágglio!
This guy is a moron, and all of Chicago knows it. The fact that he wrote this has me convinced that the White Sox will live forever somehow.

Kinda pathetic that a team's status as the number one team in Chicago is predicated on the beer flowing and the ivy growing instead of the play on the field.

rmusacch
08-20-2002, 03:12 PM
Mariotti is a freaking moron.

TornLabrum
08-20-2002, 03:27 PM
Originally posted by rmusacch
Mariotti is a freaking moron.

To wit, the article comes very close to saying that the Cubs have always been Chicago's #1 team which was not true during most of my lifetime, except for a period in the last '60s and then in the late mid-'80s and finnaly after 1994.

Lip Man 1
08-20-2002, 03:27 PM
Sorry to offend anyone but Mariotti was right on the money in his analysis.

Reputable individuals like Sox historian Rich Lindberg has been speculating on the same thing for the past few years. (Feel free to go to the interview archives and read has thoughts when I spoke with him a few months ago.)

Lindberg also brought up a terriffic point. The Sox lease on new Comiskey Park expires in eight years. Another strike, another downturn in attendance comparable to the downturn that took place from 1995-2000 and how many fans will be attending? How many season tickets will be sold? (Season ticket sales are what matters, not game day walk up's) Who would be interesting in buying the team and keeping it in Chicago under those abysmal conditions?

And with the uncertain labor situation, and reportedly a group of owners trying to break the players union, who's to say they will even play an All Star Game in 2003.

For this franchise to survive and more, to thrive, Jerry Reinsdorf must sell and soon to an owner who will treat the franchise like a representative of the country's 3rd largest industrial, media and population center.

Lip

cheeses_h_rice
08-20-2002, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by Lip Man 1
Sorry to offend anyone but Mariotti was right on the money in his analysis.

Reputable individuals like Sox historian Rich Lindberg has been speculating on the same thing for the past few years. (Feel free to go to the interview archives and read has thoughts when I spoke with him a few months ago.)

Lindberg also brought up a terriffic point. The Sox lease on new Comiskey Park expires in eight years. Another strike, another downturn in attendance comparable to the downturn that took place from 1995-2000 and how many fans will be attending? How many season tickets will be sold? (Season ticket sales are what matters, not game day walk up's) Who would be interesting in buying the team and keeping it in Chicago under those abysmal conditions?

And with the uncertain labor situation, and reportedly a group of owners trying to break the players union, who's to say they will even play an All Star Game in 2003.

For this franchise to survive and more, to thrive, Jerry Reinsdorf must sell and soon to an owner who will treat the franchise like a representative of the country's 3rd largest industrial, media and population center.

Lip

I hate to say it as well, being a city dweller since the minute I graduated from college 14 years ago, but I think the Sox's only chance of really glomming onto a solid fanbase would be to move to the suburbs. Locate the park somewhere out near Schaumburg, and you'd be guaranteed a healthy, wealthy fanbase of ex-Chicagoans and other suburbanites. Forget trying to compete with the Flubbies for this city's love -- it ain't gonna happen while the Urinal is still standing. The South Side may be improving, bit by bit, but it will always bear the brunt of the stigma attached to its ethnic/poor/blue collar roots, and hence will always play second fiddle to the privileged North Side.

hold2dibber
08-20-2002, 04:24 PM
Originally posted by cheeses_h_rice


I hate to say it as well, being a city dweller since the minute I graduated from college 14 years ago, but I think the Sox's only chance of really glomming onto a solid fanbase would be to move to the suburbs. Locate the park somewhere out near Schaumburg, and you'd be guaranteed a healthy, wealthy fanbase of ex-Chicagoans and other suburbanites. Forget trying to compete with the Flubbies for this city's love -- it ain't gonna happen while the Urinal is still standing. The South Side may be improving, bit by bit, but it will always bear the brunt of the stigma attached to its ethnic/poor/blue collar roots, and hence will always play second fiddle to the privileged North Side.


First of all, unless a new owner buys the team and that new owner is willing to shell out his/her own $ for a new ball park, the Sox aren't going to be leaving Comiskey any time soon (unless they move to D.C. or Portland or something). But if that were to happen, the best solution would be either the South Loop or the Western or Souther suburbs. The South Loop would be best, because it would still be in the city and would be walking distance from train stations and all of the millions of people who work down town every day. But the majority of the Sox tradational fan base now lives in the South and West suburbs. Those people generally don't want to come down town to a game -- particularly to a ballpark in a neighborhood they find undesirable. If you move the park out to themk, attendance will go up.

MarqSox
08-20-2002, 05:28 PM
Originally posted by Lip Man 1
Sorry to offend anyone but Mariotti was right on the money in his analysis.

Reputable individuals like Sox historian Rich Lindberg has been speculating on the same thing for the past few years. (Feel free to go to the interview archives and read has thoughts when I spoke with him a few months ago.)

Lindberg also brought up a terriffic point. The Sox lease on new Comiskey Park expires in eight years. Another strike, another downturn in attendance comparable to the downturn that took place from 1995-2000 and how many fans will be attending?

I have to concur. Mariotti may be a moron, but he gets it right once in awhile ... not to say that a strike would necessarily doom the Sox, but it would be foolish to dismiss the scenario.

Unlikely as it seems, a prolonged strike (a full season or longer) could very well wipe out 8 or 10 teams. Last time I checked average attendance figures, the Sox were 22nd ...

RKMeibalane
08-20-2002, 05:40 PM
For once, Moronotti has a valid argument. He made several good points about the situation surrounding the White Sox.

The more I think about this, the more I am convinced that Jerry Reinsdorf is a fraud. The man claims to love baseball, yet he hasn't put any effort into helping the Sox become a contender. I'm not sure what he is thinking. The occasional winning season (2000) isn't enough to sustain a fan base, unless of course you know the secret recipe to make Cubbie Kool-Aid.

Reinsdorf needs to start doing his job. If he showed that he cares about his franchise, fans would support him and start attending games. But he refuses to this, and blames the fans for his own apathy. It's not hard to get an idea of what JR think of Sox fans when he hires an idiot like Ken Williams to be the general manager of a professional baseball team.

DVG
08-21-2002, 03:21 PM
What offends the hell out of me is that this jerk is not reporting
news out of a duty to his readers. He is writing what he is
WISHING and HOPING will happen to the team within the next
few years. It isn't enough to try to "run" Reinsdorf out of town,
his sworn blood-oath vendetta now is to try to help drive the entire team out of business. If that happens, he'll no doubt take the credit. That is what sickens me. He wants to take a team that
has been in existence for 101 years and help fold it. Using his
columns to plant the bug in people's ears is the first step in that
direction. Is this creep so in love with the Cubbie mystique that
he is willing to help crush a two-team tradtion that has gone on
for 101 tears, the longest such streak in baseball? Apparently
so. Typical out-of-towner.

(I just saw my typo. It should say 101 Years, not tears. Freudian
slip.)


He also displays his usual stunning ignorance of Chicago baseball
history when he states that the Cubs are the number 1 team
like never before. Well, the Cubs did dominate in attendance
from 1927-50, when they were mostly up and the Sox were
mostly down. Then from 1951-67 the Sox reversed the trend.
1968-72 saw another reversal. The history of both teams'
attendance is one of peaks and valleys. True, the Wrigley
museum will draw millions of tourists regardless of how poorly
the team does. The Sox have demonstrated, though, that they
can survive and thrive in such an atmosphere. They had solid
attendance figures from 1990-94 and can do so again. In that
ballpark, I'm not sure. It gets too much of a bum rap from
media worms who look for any excuse to bash the team. Also
from fans who are too much in love with the idea of the quaint
throwback stadiums to realize that they are pretty much the
same as Comiskey in terms of size, height and steepness.

The screecher's ignorance doesn't surprise me. We are, after
all, talking about a guy who couldn't tell the difference between
Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles and who also misidentified
the famous "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN" headline as "Dewey
Beats Truman."

The funny part is that he never wrote of the team being con-
tracted before MLB began speaking of it last year. Before, his
bleatings were that Reinsdorf should sell, or that the team would
be moved. Now he's get a new angle for his Sicilian vendetta.
Unbelievable.

Now then, to the business of if it could happen. It could, I ack
nowledge that. In which case that would leave his beloved
Cubbies as the baseball team in Chicago. I'm sure he'll mess
his pants as he celebrates his contribution to killing the team.

For my part, I say we change the name of Chicago to the Sixth
City, to honor the Cubs' annual spot in the NL Central standings.
It would also demonstrate just how truly mediocre a sports town
it is. A city that always has and always will play third fiddle to
New York and Los Angeles as far as sports goes deserves
exactly what it gets.