The sum of all fears: White Sox rebuild in time for labor dispute

The sum of all fears: White Sox rebuild in time for labor dispute

Back when Major League Baseball and its Players Association agreed on a collective bargaining agreement last winter, I couldn’t help but notice that it expired in 2021. There were major fault lines underneath the CBA that might make the next round of negotiations explosive, and in typical South Side luck, that’s right when the White Sox rebuild is supposed to crest. Depending on your attitude, “2021” might be the source of great optimism or the answer to a grisly word problem.

A White Sox rebuild leaves the station in December 2016 heading north. At the same time, conditions for another baseball work stoppage depart from the station on the opposite end, heading south. Assuming the two travel at equal speeds, when will they crash, killing thousands in an apocalyptic blaze?

Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports had one of the most pessimistic forecasts for labor relations then, and this winter’s unprecedented sluggishness has only fueled his foreshadowing. He says while there may be various smaller reasons why many players remain unsigned — Scott Boras controlling the top of the market and the luxury tax chief among them — none of them should bring the entire market crashing to a halt, either individually or collectively.

Instead, he takes the lack of activity as a sign that the entire compensation process requires an overhaul:

What’s clear is the free-agent impasse represents a reckoning long in the making – one that marries shifting power in labor relations, the emergence of analytics and cookie-cutter front offices, and the willingness of teams to treat competitiveness as an option, not a priority. Combined, they pose the greatest threat to a quarter century of labor peace and have people at the highest level of the sport asking whether a game-changing overhaul in how baseball operates isn’t just necessary but inevitable.

“I’m just not sure that the structure that’s been in place for all of these years makes sense anymore,” one union official said. “Now, whether anybody is prepared to blow that up is a completely different question.”

“Of course it doesn’t make sense,” a league official concurred. “We pay you the minimum for three years and arbitration for three or four years, and then you get paid more in free agency for your decline?”

Given that Passan wrote the most wary take on the last round of CBA negotiations, it’s possible that his receptors are oversensitive to signs validating his view. Either way, he successfully planted in my head the idea of a labor crash interfering with a White Sox upswing, just like it derailed the culmination of one in 1994.

From there, I’ve developed the idea that we’re all trapped in a Groundhog Day/Quantum Leap scenario in which Jerry Reinsdorf has to end up being on the right side of a labor dispute before the Sox can make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in their mostly downtrodden 117-year history.

By “right side,” I don’t mean that he has to champion for the union. He’d just have to remain on the sidelines instead of being an easily traceable source of owner aggression like he was in the strike of 1994 or collusion in the 1980s.

That doesn’t seem like a huge favor, but Reinsdorf angled for a fight as recently as 2014, when he was in a small group of owners trying to thwart Rob Manfred’s ascension to the commissioner’s office. That clash is easy to forget since Manfred’s time in office has been a boon for the White Sox. His administration has yielded a hard cap for international spending to go along with the domestic draft pool system, both of which dramatically leveled those playing fields for the Sox, as Reinsdorf was averse to paying competitive prices for amateur talent (although Dave Wilder’s kickback scheme justified part of his attitude).

So maybe these developments will contribute to Reinsdorf’s ongoing public mellowing. 2005 offered a prime opportunity to rehab his image, and his sentimentality has often come to the forefront since. The White Sox try to highlight the incredible amount of loyalty he shows in his employees. Sure, it occasionally results in situations like Robin Ventura’s awkward exit, but they’re hoping you also remember Reinsdorf giving Jose Abreu a ring to commemorate his cycle.

Rick Hahn has tried to convince the public that Reinsdorf’s mindset can’t be assumed, noting his willingness to rebuild and everything that goes with it, including the penalty-flouting signing of Luis Robert.

“There’s been a lot of things over the last year that perhaps may have surprised people or at the very least deviated from what people have perceived the way we would do things,” general manager Rick Hahn said at the Winter Meetings. “There was certainly a notion that the Chicago White Sox would never rebuild. There was certainly the notion that the White Sox would never incur a substantial penalty or substantial tax in order to sign a player, as we did with Luis Robert.

“It was repeatedly written and reported, even a year ago at this time, that the White Sox would never make a trade with the Chicago Cubs. So we’ve repeatedly shown that what you’ve assumed about our actions in the past doesn’t indicate how we’re going to act going forward.”

All of that is true, and so Reinsdorf has generated some benefit of the doubt when it comes to the unlikely actions of the future, such as the kind of megacontract that can complete a rebuild. Along the same lines, the hope here is that his grudging acceptance of a teardown means he can similarly act against his instincts when it comes to unrest during bargaining, especially should it come to pass as the on-field product starts to hit its stride.

A lot can change in two or three years, so I’m not sounding alarms as much as I’m pinning down thoughts that have rattled around in my brain over the last year, because Passan’s column gave them a charge. If Reinsdorf once again subjects his franchise to extensive collateral damage in a labor war, not only will the fan-service stuff ring hollow …

“As the owner of this team, I have an obligation to do what’s right for the fans. The real owner of a team is the fans, the owner is a custodian. I will be gone one day, but fans will still be there. So you got to run the team what’s right for the fans and not even think about how old I am.”

… but he’ll also have failed to address the biggest weakness in his ownership’s legacy: the continued lack of anything resembling a White Sox golden age. Assuming his words mean something, that supposedly means everything.

“If half of these prospects turn out to be what they’re supposed to be, we’ll be able to contend for quite a while. If they all turn out to be what they’re supposed to be, we’ll have a super team.

“I would love to win another World Series, but what I really want is that when it’s time for me to leave, I want this team to be perennial contenders.

“That’s what I really want.’’


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Patrick Nolan
Editor

Jerry can go pound sand with this “obligation to do what’s right for the fans” nonsense.

“Hi, Jerry? It’s us, the fans. Open your damn checkbook and take a risk for once.”

Sophist
Member
Sophist

or at least lower the price of a beer

gibby32
Member
gibby32

Time for my annual “it’s easy to spend someone else’s money.”

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Followed by my customary, “If spending is undesirable, don’t fight the need to rebuild for a decade” and “Look at what chances other teams take when they want to go for it.”

gibby32
Member
gibby32

Yeah, Mike Ilich and Arte Moreno should be the White Sox role models.  I never said that spending is undesirable.  But the Sox are not at the stage where it should be done in large numbers, and it may not be necessary depending on the development of our young players.  I’m not worried about Jerry’s bank account; I’m worried that a 400M contract or two will hamstring the team for years.  Maybe it will prove necessary to spend on one or more of those contracts and maybe I will be in favor of it.  But to complain about Reinsdorf’s spending habits before that time is folly.  The notion that Jerry is cheap is deeply ingrained and false.  You’re not a meatball, and you are signing on to it.

Reindeer Games
Member
Reindeer Games

This is bullshit but whatever Gibby.  We talked about it last time and you just called me anti-semitic since I brought up the fact that he’s been notoriously cheap to the point of selling a draft pick during a rebuild with his other franchise and that $68 million Jose Abreu contract was the largest White Sox contract of all time.  He had a higher payroll for a couple of years after the world series, but he was 20th, 15th and 20th in 2016, 2015, and 2014 when they cut the rebuild short and were “competing”.  2015 was the year they traded for Shark and “went all in, and they had the 15th highest payroll.  I don’t get why that can’t be criticized?

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I didn’t say Jerry is cheap. I said that his statement that what the fans want is most important flies in the face of the way that he runs the team. It’s insulting.

I know that the Sox should not be spending in large numbers right now (and this may have been unclear, but I was more specific on Twitter), but they should have been prior to the 2016 season. If they weren’t willing to do that, then there should not have been a rush to get back to contention so quickly — much like there has been for the duration of his tenure as owner.

If Jerry wants to impose certain payroll limits on the team, that’s fine and that’s his choice — it doesn’t make him cheap. It does mean, however, that he’s not prioritizing the fans. There’s nothing specifically wrong with that, but he shouldn’t be simultaneously and publicly spewing BS to the contrary. It also means that in order for his teams to compete, their process has to employ certain tactics and a level of patience that he has not afforded his executive management until Chris Sale was traded away.

gibby32
Member
gibby32

RG, I genuinely regret that you believe that I called you anti-semitic.  I did not.  I don’t recall the interaction specifically.  I may have made some more general comment about suspect financial criticisms of Reinsdorf that you mis-interpreted.  In any event, I believe that charges of racism, sexism and anti-semitism to be too serious to be made cavalierly.   If I really thought that you were anti-semitic, I would remember it.  I may disagree with the financial analysis that you cite, but, as you say, whatever.

gibby32
Member
gibby32

PN, Jerry’s comment about what the fans want is a weird hill for you to die on.  Different fans want different things.  I don’t want to go round and round on this topic again.  I will only say that the White Sox spend essentially all of the money that the team makes on the team.  They make no distributions to owners, except to pay taxes.  (I’m not crying for them; they will make it up when the team is sold.)  Your 2016 criticism, to me, is just a different judgment.  They thought that Todd Frazier, et al would allow them to compete.  A bunch of people wanted Yoenis Cespedes to finish off the roster.   Both seem reasonable to me.  But, as I said above, whatever.

Reindeer Games
Member
Reindeer Games

Since this is the internet, and I want to be very clear on this.  This is not sarcasm.  Thank you for your comment Gibby.  I appreciate the clarification and am sorry if I misunderstood your criticisms.

Trooper Galactus
Member

The White Sox turned plenty of a profit in 2015-16 and could/should have expanded payroll if they were really trying to jump on a competitive window with the generational talents at the top of their depth chart.  Yeah, sure, maybe signing a guy like Cespedes cuts that profit in half, but history has shown the White Sox see a good bump in ticket sales when they make major signings like that, and the added winning throughout the season helps as well.  Sure, it might not be a massive boost, but if they make it worth the fans’ while, the fans will make it worth theirs.

asinwreck
Member
asinwreck

Where I would be skeptical of Passan’s take is the context for negotiations. What happened in 1994 involved not only massive distrust between the players and owners (over, amongst other things, the owners’ collusion throughout the Ueberroth Era) but also abject dysfunction within the owners ranks that led Bud and Jerry to oust Fay Vincent and paper over owners’ internal disagreements by demonizing the players. Since Selig abolished the league presidents and brought ownership into an organizational structure more like the other major sports, ownership has been collectively less chaotic (arguably less so than the NFL, NBA, or NHL since 1995).

Rob Manfred is early in his tenure. Maybe he’ll spark a war; we shall see. But the game is marketing players in a way it wasn’t doing 25 years ago. Even with the fault lines Passan discusses, the acrimony that was normal in the 80s is lacking in labor relations today. That might not matter given the money involved, but the environment for negotiations looks much different now.

Otter
Member
Otter

I agree, we’re too far out from any sort of day of reckoning to be optimistic or pessimistic.

Other leagues have figured out how to structure contracts for young players, mainly by adopting the MLB model, though at a higher rate. Lauri Markkanen on the Bulls was the 7th pick in the NBA draft will make $3.2, $3.8, $4.4, and $5.6 million over the first four years of his deal (4/$17m). That’s more than anyone on the Sox will make over their first four years on the team (not including signing bonuses though, which does change the game a little for top end talent obviously). Anderson signed away two years of his free agency in part to make $7.5 million over his first four plus MLB seasons. And recently we’ve seen a dip in extensions like Anderson’s since it favors the club more so than the player in many cases (Jon Singleton is the only extension I can think of that didn’t work out for the team).

It wouldn’t kill baseball to pay second year players more money in year two (and three). There are a lot of smart people out there that can help figure out a way to do this, or start the arbitration process earlier. That might be the easiest way to “fix” everything, teams aren’t going to want to grant free agency sooner.

Another wild card in all this is expansion, which seems like will happen in the next few years, and my guess is that it would encourage labor peace in the short term.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I think I’d like the solution of players entering the arbitration process after their first year of service.

Otter
Member
Otter

I mean, Kris Bryant getting $1m from the Cubs last year, is kind of the perfect example of how broken the system is. The NL MVP, in his second year of team control but essentially his third year with the team, is given about a $400k bonus from the team as a “please remember this in 2021 when you become a UFA” gift to bring his salary up to $1.0m.

Red_Hair_White_Sox
Member
Red_Hair_White_Sox

I think that Restricted Free Agency makes the most sense as an Arb replacement.  Let these guys hit free agency while they are in their prime and give the team right of first refusal on any contract offer.

Otter
Member
Otter

For players, that’d be great assuming teams didn’t hold them in the minors. But as Sox fans, I’m not sure.

karkovice squad
Member
karkovice squad

Expanding the number of free agents available in a given season isn’t necessarily in the players’ interests. It would probably improve the situation of non-free agent players at the expense of players who’d be free agents under the existing rules. 

asinwreck
Member
asinwreck

Indeed, in the age before the Messersmith decision, Veeck advocated for all players being free agents every single year in order to hold salaries down. Limiting the availability of talent can produce larger contracts for players; Manny Machado’s age and position will make his next contract very interesting.

Red_Hair_White_Sox
Member
Red_Hair_White_Sox

kark – It is especially in their best interest if they are studs. And with current WAR-Salary numbers it would still get even decent players paid more than Arb.

Additionally it would make teams pay for good players or risk losing them, could even fix the tanking issue we are seeing now.  More good players available to fix your team and if you are paying guys what they are worth you can’t just sit on the sidelines as easily.  You would be forced to raise payroll and supplement your core.

It would help bring the league back to more parity. Some small market teams might suffer with increased payroll, but there is enough money in most regions that the owners can afford to have competitive payrolls at the cost of a tiny amount of the profit margin

karkovice squad
Member
karkovice squad

R_H_W_S, none of that addresses the players who would be hurt by the change. Nor does it address the likely shift away from longer contracts that would follow, ultimately resulting in fewer guaranteed dollars for players.

Red_Hair_White_Sox
Member
Red_Hair_White_Sox

Current guys over 30 are sunk cost.  It sucks, but no meaningful change will come about without losers in the short term

And I don’t know that it kills long term deals, it just gives them to 24 year olds instead of 32 year olds.

As Cirensica
Member
As Cirensica

Allow the use of PEDS and all of this tanking thing and unsigned free agents wouldn’t happen

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I don’t follow. How do you figure?

As Cirensica
Member
As Cirensica

Well, players with talent will be still incredibly productive in their 30s rather than being today’s Pujols or Miggys, and teams will be signing them.  The allure to get top draft picks gets minimized when teams can be as competitive with steroided veterans. Tanking will still exist but perhaps a little bit less persuasive.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Ahhh yeah, makes sense. This compensation format was a lot more fitting for the steroid aging curves.

katiesphil
Member
katiesphil

Not sure I like this as a solution. I have a lot of misgivings about PEDs aside from the “purity of the game.” I don’t want to see baseball turn into football – young people putting their health at risk for my entertainment.

I think a better approach would be something like earlier arb, or perhaps a system that automatically bumps up a salary once a player makes and sticks in the bigs (with a mechanism to keep teams from simply sending them down over and over to avoid that bump).  This would let teams pay the current, smaller salaries while players are still prospects, but allow the players earlier reward for making good.

As Cirensica
Member
As Cirensica

Katiesphill: My comment was more like a tongue-in-cheek comment than a proposed solution.  I do agree that the current compensation system is broken and needs fixing.

aryzner
Member
aryzner

I truly believe that for the absolute best solution to the tanking problem, just look to something that will never happen in sports in the United States – promotion and relegation like they have in international soccer leagues. (We obviously do not have pro/rel in the U.S.) You’re worst in the league? Goodbye, your team has been sent to AAA where you must be promoted again in order to play in MLB. Owners would NEVER go for this, so it’s incredibly unrealistic to think it could happen, and honestly I don’t think I would support it either, but it would certainly be a great punishment for tanking/being bad. That system would have had to been established long, long ago for it to be present today.

Teams are just too rewarded, and this goes for basically all major American sports, for being bad. Find a way to punish teams for tanking. I really don’t have a realistic answer, though. I don’t know. Give the teams with the best records the highest draft picks. I don’t know. That seems dumb, but at the same time gives teams reason to try to win every year. It’s definitely a complicated issue that I don’t have the solution to.

As Cirensica
Member
As Cirensica

@aryzner,

Yes, I have said the same thing many times here and in other blogs. Relegation is a good solution or reduce the amount of teams and leagues. We know neither is happening.

Reindeer Games
Member
Reindeer Games

@aryzner I’m 100% here for the Nuts, Flying Squirrels, Isotopes, Chihuahuas, and Baby Cakes make up the NL West

*I realize all of these teams aren’t west, but suspend disbelief for the joke please.

katiesphil
Member
katiesphil

I don’t follow, either. Can you explain your thought process here? Now damn – you responded while I was typing.

rhubarb
Member
rhubarb

This might not register with the rest of the conversation but I am tired of players, who are ready to contribute to the major league team, being stashed in the minor leagues until the Super-Two deadline is passed.  That shit needs to be fixed as a part of all this.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I agree completely with this.

What if they tried some sort of “phase-in” of the 4th year of arb?  Maybe everyone who would be a Super Two under the current rules still gets to go into arbitration a year early, and then for the rest with between 2-3 years of service time (but less than the Super Two “cutoff”), the player would get a salary increase that’s a fraction of what they would get had they gone to arb as a Super Two. The fraction would be determined based on how close they were to the Super Two cutoff.

That way, there’d be no “cliff” and teams would not feel like they’re risking as much by promoting their players a month earlier. I think that as long as they define a cutoff point, teams are going to find a way to manipulate their promotions to “game the system”. It should be more fluid so that players are promoted when they’re ready.

KenWo4LiFe
Member
KenWo4LiFe

They should get a raise on their anniversary. I started in December, even though our season runs from september-june. every december 4 i see my pay bump. makes sense to me.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Feels like that would work too.

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

My takeaways from today’s BA story on Luis Robert’s stateside debut.

1) Sox have a top prospect named Willie Burger

2) Luis’ last name may actually be Roberts.

3) Love that swing.

Blow my Gload
Member
Blow my Gload

Willie Burger is such an awesome name.

asinwreck
Member
asinwreck

Solution: Sox give an extra $10 million to Burger immediately if he legally changes his first name to Willie. They can negotiate endorsements with a mutually-determined fast food chain.

MrTopaz
Member
MrTopaz

“Will he burger? You’d damn well better believe he’s gonna burger!”

Not sure how it fits, but that’s the tag line I want.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I bet Willie Burger would stick at third base.

Jake Burger’s gonna have to move across the diamond.

As Cirensica
Member
As Cirensica

I ate a burger today

jorgefabregas
Member

Baseball America’s Editor in Chief, John Manuel, took a scout position with the Twins this off-season. I haven’t read enough to know whether BA’s quality has suffered while they shake out their depth chart.

blackoutsox
Member
blackoutsox

I’m sorry, but if Jerry Reinsdorf plays any less than a very active owners role in screwing the players as hard as possible, I’ll eat my childhood Sox cap.

I haven’t brought a ticket since they traded Sale, and I won’t until Reinsdorf is no longer the owner.

BTW love the new/old site so far.

Lurker Laura
Member
Lurker Laura

Yep. Exactly. Don’t trust JR as far as I can throw him.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

He is a bad owner who some people do not think is bad because the team won it all in 2005 — despite Jerry having very little to do with why or how they won.

Otter
Member
Otter

Sox are 2,970 – 2,898 (.506) with five playoff appearances, three ALCS, and a World Series title under Reinsdorf (37 seasons). If the current playoff model was used in all these years, the playoff appearance would increase.

The Sox under Reinsdorf had two good/decent competitive runs: 1990-1996 and then 2000-2008 (if you want to argue 1990-1994 okay; and if you want to argue they were fairly competitive the entire 2000s through 2010, okay).

The Sox have never been a financial juggernaut, with a fairly small fan base and an extremely small regional foot print. If you want to blame ownership for not growing the fan base, fine; but history/path dependency was always going to make that hard.

The team has fallen on hard time the last ten years. Most of the league got smarter while the Sox stayed the same; there were far too many half measures; far too many attempts to fix last year’s problem and not foreseeing this year’s problem; then the weird stop/start/stop of 2014-2016. They have meandered the last decade, which as a fan has been and is frustrating. That’s probably why so many fans are open to what they’re doing now.

Division realignment in the 1990s helped the Sox, but they’ve never done a great job at taking advantage of it. There is no financial juggernaut in the division, save a few Tiger seasons over the last decade. For most of the Reinsdorf Era, the Cubs have been pretty bad (the Cubs are 149 games under .500 since 1981; the Sox are 72 games over), which I think has allowed the Sox to skate a bit with their fans. That is no longer the case.

I don’t agree that Reinsdorf is a bad owner, but I think a very good case could be made that over the last five to eight years he has been. And I don’t know how to factor in his involvement with the strike in ’94 and other non-White Sox specific choices he’s made as a MLB owner (a hypothetical: if the Sox were owned by the Trib in 1994, does that change the calculus in all this? Probably not). On the flip side, he’s very loyal to staff and people really do seem to like working for him. Has that loyalty hurt the Sox at times? Probably. Has it helped them? Probably.

35Shields
Member
35Shields

I’ll agree that he deserves some credit for fielding competitive Sox teams for the majority of 1990-2010 and I don’t totally fault him for not spending too much money, given how low attendance has been.

On the other hand, he and Eddie let the Cubs become the dominant team in Chicago because they’re morons and took the Sox off of WGN. He screwed his own team’s best shot at a pennant in 30+ years and nearly killed the whole sport at the same time. He blackmailed the state and the fans into funding a new stadium so that he could blow up the oldest park in baseball.

So, overall, I’d say he’s been pretty bad.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Reinsdorf’s teams have made the playoffs five times in 36 seasons in which there was a playoffs (and he played a hand in there being no playoffs in a 37th season, during which the White Sox were poised to go there).  Using expected value, an average team should have made the playoffs about 9 times in that span. The playing field isn’t equal, but that’s well below-average.

Reinsdorf gets credit for the World Series title and he shouldn’t. It was payroll constraints that caused them to have to restructure their team after 2004. Kenny Williams deserves a great deal of credit for the moves he made to put a decent team on the field despite those constraints. Then, due to a combination of fluke seasons and genuine breakouts, the 2005 White Sox were great enough to win 99 games and make the playoffs. They subsequently won the World Series, but Jerry doesn’t deserve credit for their postseason performance any more than he deserves blame for, say, the 2008 White Sox not beating the Rays.

I agree with many of your points — particularly some of the inherent disadvantages the Sox have historically had to deal with in growing a fan base and that Reinsdorf has been more of a problem in recent years, when other teams have improved their analytics and strategy while he’s employed the same old people and payroll practices (so there’s a little recency bias in my statements).

All in all, the White Sox have been slightly lucky (winning the coinflip game in 2008, winning the World Series in just 5 playoff tries vs an expectation of .875 championships) and less successful than average during his tenure.

Otter
Member
Otter

On the other hand, he and Eddie let the Cubs become the dominant team in Chicago because they’re morons and took the Sox off of WGN. He screwed his own team’s best shot at a pennant in 30+ years and nearly killed the whole sport at the same time. He blackmailed the state and the fans into funding a new stadium so that he could blow up the oldest park in baseball.

Oddly, they were too ahead of their time on the cable TV stuff. As for the ’94 team, assuming the strike was going to happen no matter (a safe assumption), the owner didn’t matter. The Old Comisk was falling apart, but they rushed the new stadium and build a dud; this is probably their biggest mistake as owners and they should get more criticism for it (that the state has fixed up the new Comisk/Cell/GR; and the lease is so good that it’s probably allowed the Sox to spend more money than they’d ever admit publicly). Also he got a bunch of Cubs and Cardinal fans to build and pay for a new stadium for the White Sox, maybe that’s a win (personal feeling about publicly financed stadiums aside).

The Cubs were more popular than the Sox in 1981. The Trib marketed the Cubs better than JR did with the Sox in the 80s and 90s, no doubt; but Sox fans have this thought that they could have been bigger than the Cubs. Maybe in the 1950s or 60s; but that shipped had pretty much sailed by the late 60s (if not sooner). Iowa and downstate Illinois had become solidly Cub (or Cardinal) territory long before JR bought the Sox. (I have nothing to back this up with, but I’d also argue that the deindustrialization of the south side (and Chicago) has hurt the Sox, but has helped the Cubs).

35Shields
Member
35Shields

The Cubs were more popular than the Sox in 1981. The Trib marketed the Cubs better than JR did with the Sox in the 80s and 90s, no doubt; but Sox fans have this thought that they could have been bigger than the Cubs.

 

The Sox outdrew the Cubs every year 81-84

Trooper Galactus
Member

The Sox drew similarly to the Cubs in the early 90s, partly bolstered by the new stadium in addition to fielding some great teams.  They pissed that away with the strike and it took a decade and a 99-win campaign for attendance to get back over 2 million for a full season.  They rode that high for as long as they could but their ineptitude got them below 2 million again by 2012, and they haven’t even come close since.

If Renisdorf really has fans as his #1 priority, he’s shown a pretty solid knack for eroding their enthusiasm.  Sure, losing hurts attendance, but I think fans have been more turned off by the half measures employed over the last ten years, most of which the team was actively trying to make the playoffs (and failing pretty spectacularly at it).

Twenty-one years ago this is the team that signed Albert Belle to the richest deal in baseball.  Now we’re pretty much at the bottom of all MLB when it comes to listing the largest contracts in team history.  There were over forty players who made enough in 2017 alone to be one of the top eight TOTAL free agent commitments in our franchise history (tied with Adam Laroche’s 2 year/$25 million deal)!  When the Tampa Bay Rays can ink a contract well over double the largest in White Sox history, I find it hard to accept the financial hard line our beloved team has drawn.

mikeyb
Member
mikeyb

Every other team in the current AL Central has made the playoffs in back to back seasons at least once during that timeframe. Other than the Royals, each of the teams has had at least a stretch of 3 straight playoff seasons. The White Sox haven’t even had back to back playoff appearances. It would be nice to get a stretch of sustained winning at some point.