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Kenny Williams States His Crusade To Save Baseball....

Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.


Welcome to my first post on the Chicago White Sox for the 2011 MLB season.  Now I know in the past many readers/tweeters/fellow ChicagoNow bloggers and some columnists in town may believe that I have a certain slant towards the franchise that I used to call my own.  As a White Sox fan for almost 30 years I was fed up with the same theory when it came to the direction of the ball club.  I felt the White Sox needed a new voice in terms of the direction of the on the field decisions, meaning I was no longer  a fan of "Guillen Inc." 


Since I have dropped my former beloved team, "Guillen Inc." has had an extension picked up (based on what?), started his own website (which the club originally did not want), and has won some local sports honor (from stations which the White Sox own a share of).  All the while the franchise he manages has gone "all in" signing players such as Adam Dunn, Jesse Crain, and Will Ohman to join the likes of what is left of the 2005 World Series Champion team in Paul Konerko, AJ Pierzynski, and Mark Buehrle.  Clearly it has been a busy off season not only for the White Sox but also for GM Kenny Williams who has spent a record amount of this 2011 club in their efforts to win another championship for the city of Chicago. 


Yesterday in a sit down with Comcast Sportsnet's own Chuck Garfien, Kenny Williams made some bold statements about the imbalance of payroll in Major League Baseball and specifically the situation of a team paying Albert Pujols up to $30,000,000 dollars a season.  What Kenny failed to realize however is while he may be correct in some of his statements, it is hard to "cry wolf" when you are one of the top dogs in MLB.


During the five minute sit down that Williams had with Garfien the question was posed to Williams about if Albert Pujols was on the verge of signing the biggest contract in baseball history.  While pondering in thought for a few seconds, Williams went on to say: 


"I'm worried about baseball as a whole that this is getting out of hand.  The teams in Pittsburgh and Kansas City, the smaller market teams, deserve just as much of an opportunity as the Cubs and the White Sox the Boston's the Yankees', the larger market teams.  There is just too much disparity."


Now while Kenny Williams is correct in his thoughts on the difference in pay scales among the larger and smaller markets, here is one thing he is not correct on.  The smaller markets have just as much opportunity to go after a player like Albert Pujols as the larger markets do, it is just how you go about it.   


For example the Florida Marlins last year had a payroll of around 55.3 million dollars, yet they have one of the highest paid shortstops in the league on their roster.  The Florida Marlins (avg. 83 wins a season last three years) have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, the worst attendance in baseball yet can offer a 70 million dollar extension to one of the best players in the game and still be competitive.   


Also what Williams is missing the point on is if a smaller market team offers up Pujols want he wants, he is more than just a game changer on the field.  Not only will there be more attention being brought on the club he signs with, but look at it from a marketer perspective.  Ticket sales, merchandise, local endorsements and sponsorships, the visibility factor on national television outlets....there is so much more Pujols brings beside his bat and multiple MVP's.  If you are willing to pay for it.  


The fact Kenny Williams worries about the "poor" teams in baseball when he is spending a record 120-125 million dollars on his club, that is what is asinine.  



Williams went on to say: 


"If (Jerry Reinsdorf) gave me $30 million dollars right now, I'm not going to spend it on one guy. Sorry White Sox fans," Williams said. "But I tell you what, I'm going to take that $30 million and I'm going to distribute it around. My team is going to be better as a whole than it is with one player who might get hurt. Then you're done. Sorry, that's just me." 


I guess White Sox fans should not expect on any BIG NAME free agents to come make their home on the south side anytime soon. While I have always been a fan of how Williams has built teams, he has never built a team like the large market team that the White Sox are.  While Williams stands that he would never pay one single player that large amount of money, someone will and that someone has larger aspirations that just winning their division.  Teams that spend big boy dollars have big boy dreams of winning World Series, not just winning divisions by being supposedly "all in"


This is the money quote (as we say in radio) that Williams provided White Sox nation and baseball fans everywhere yesterday when talking to Comcast Sportsnet


"Listen I love the game, I love the game for the players and the fans, but in order for the game to continue to be affordable for families, for guys who are hard-working guys busting their [butts] everyday to take their kids to a ballgame...well, hell yeah. Yes. I'm okay with it being shut down." 



Kenny Williams supports a work stoppage in baseball so baseball can "be affordable for families, for guys who are hard-working guys busting their [butts] everyday to take their kids to a ballgame."  While the White Sox do as much as they can to make a ballgame affordable for families, the costs are still outrageous.   


US Cellular Field: Family of Four
Parking (one car) - $23.00 

Cheapest Tickets Upper Reserved MONDAYS ONLY  - 12.00 (48.00) 

Food - Hot Dog/soft drink each person - 30-40 dollars 


The total for a monday game, sitting in the nosebleed seats with cheap food and drink is easily over a hundred dollars.  Add on the travel expenses with gas and the headaches of Chicago traffic, is the experience of taking your family to a ball game really that affordable now?  Name one professional sport that is truly affordable anymore to take a family to a ballgame?  There is not one and a salary cap will not chance that fact, even in America's past time.   


For Williams to support a work stoppage in baseball to make things affordable for the common man is simply lip service.  Shutting down the sport will not bring more fans to the game because it is more affordable to go.  This is a problem with which all the major professional sports face, not just baseball.  While Williams concerns may be true, the facts are what they are.  Baseball is not affordable.  Professional sports are not affordable.  Any sort of work stoppage being a positive for the game of baseball is NOT POSSIBLE



The rules are not completely different for all the major league teams, as he referenced Jerry Reinsdorf as saying of the small/large market teams.  It is just how you go about your business.  It is no secret the number of teams with over $100,000,000 dollar payrolls has increased in the last decade.  The unique aspect of baseball that I find is while the ones who spend the most may contend more often and get the most attention, but other clubs who spend wisely have as much of a chance as the "big boys" of baseball.  The Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants last year combined payrolls were still less than the Yankees and the Red Sox singular payrolls.  The Red Sox spent over $160 million dollars yet failed to make the post season.  The Tampa Bay Rays have not spent even half of what their AL East counterparts have and have been to a World Series and won their division last year. 


In a year that Kenny Williams and the Chicago White Sox must win because they say they are "all in", their GM should heed his own advice and stick to White Sox business.  While I realize that the Pirates, Royals, and Diamondbacks of today are the bottom feeders of the league....were we not saying this same thing about the Rays, Twins, Reds and Rangers of yesterday? 


Baseball is the only game where the kings can be kings and the poor can be poor, it is just all about how you go about your business that matters.  To steal from the rich and give to the poor like Williams is suggesting baseball do is doing nothing to the sport.  Where do you draw the line?  How can baseball go against its signature franchise in New York and tell them to play by the new rules?  Even if there was a salary cap, you would still have the rich and poor, right?   


Memo to Kenny Williams.....keep your foot out of your mouth and stick to White Sox business for 2011.  




John "Rock" Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show and Host of The Rock Report on WSCR 670AM The Score 


You can follow The Mully And Hanley Morning Show at 


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