Podcast: MLB’s Dying Middle Class

Record date: 12/11/2022


  • Sox Machine has a new online store. Launching today at 12:00 PM CT.
  • MLB’s dying middle class – how can teams keep up or operate their business if they refuse to exceed the Luxury Tax? What impact of the heavy spending from some clubs will have in the future?
  • Bob from Arizona wrote a letter to Sox Machine about his struggles as a White Sox fan. Josh and Jim share that letter while discussing the frustration felt and search for hope to cling to in 2023.
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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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gar ridge

As usual, a spot-on analysis of the state we’re in. The final standings for MLB the last few years and shows that the tier of really bad teams has increased lately. From 2010-2013 there were a total of 23 sub-70 win teams, from 2014-2017 there were 21 but from 2018-2022 there have been 30 (skipped ’20). Maybe there’s some noise in there but it would seem that the spending this off-season could lead to 8-10 sub-70 win teams being the norm.

As Cirensica

Revenue sharing scheme is not working? No way. That sounded like the perfect solution to even out competitiveness.

*very sarcastically made comment.


The most White Soxian outcome to all this spending would be for us to get an owner that is willing to spend like the owners of the Phillies or Mets and then baseball proceeds to impose a salary cap right after our new free spending owner takes power. Joy followed by tears of agony.

Last edited 3 months ago by dwjm3


I dont think it will happen with how strong the mlb union has been but it would be so freaking sox if it did…


I trust that the baseball gods will smile upon this team eventually, if the Sox can just get sold to owner like the Phillies or Mets!


Bill from Arizona basically summed it up for me perfectly.

Last season was the first year I can remember having very little motivation/interest in the team. I went to two games (one was a free ticket) and I watched a few games in April on tv.

Literally all my white sox consumption is via sox machine now. The community and therapy provided by fellow suffering fans is the only thing worth investing in until jerry shuffles off this mortal coil.

Even then, no guarantees anything improves.

Generally I’m pumped for the new baseball season by now as football dies down. However this year I see myself looking more forward to the NFL draft and next season for the Bears. That is a first for me as I’ve always considered baseball my favorite sport to watch. It’s just so freaking hard to get excited about this team with the stagnating current ownership structure.

Just gotta hope for lightning in a bottle like 2005. That is the only hope we have left under this leadership.


I’m with Bill, DuckSnorting and many many others. Most of my life I was a big baseball fan, and of a fan of pretty much all the major sports + soccer. Baseball was always my #1 sport. The White Sox were my favorite team. Finally, I’ve come to accept that that’s no longer the case. The White Sox have beaten my fandom out of me. I’ve always been Sox 1, Bears 2, and then the Hawks, the Bulls and the Fire below that and really dependent on who’s good. Those are where I’m the most fair-weathered, as I only have so much time, bandwidth and desire to spend on the many teams I follow (not to mention college football and international soccer). I hardly watched any of the Sox last year…maybe 5 games, if that. I used to watch as many games as possible, dozens a year. This year I canceled my MLB TV account. Bad years are going to happen. I don’t so much mind that. But the truth is Jerry and co. have been serving us shit for years. His reign has been putrid if you look at it in its entirety, and I just can’t take it any longer. So they’re now firmly in the category of “whatever, we’ll see how they play”. I’m a full on fair weather Sox fan after about 44 years of being a die-hard Sox fan. The only way I can conceive of caring again like I used to is seeing how the transition of ownership goes after Jerry’s eventual passing. If a new owner can breath some life into this disaster of a franchise, then I can see it happening. While Jerry is no Dollar Bill Wirtz, he isn’t much better, and that’s pretty much how I feel at this point. New ownership is my only hope, otherwise I’ll just track them from afar through the Sox Machine.

If you can stand to just stop watching or going to games so much, it doesn’t hurt as bad. Just a suggestion. 🙂

Anyway, happy holidays y’all.


I think this is the most disgusted I have ever been with White Sox management, and that’s saying a lot. Because they are not only stupid and cheap, but now they have become very condescending. It’s almost like they absolutely know they are screwing the fans, and they don’t care- in fact they seem to be taking some joy in it.

That being said, I am a White Sox fan- I have been ever since Pete Ward was my first favorite White Sox player in the mid-60s. As soon as the games start, I will root for them and just put the fact that they are run by a bunch of idiots out of my mind. During the season, I can separate the players wearing the uniform from the jackasses in the front office. But I really don’t want to support this management team by giving them my money. They don’t deserve it. All that being said, I will still always say, “GO SOX!”


Right there with you roke. I may go back a little farther but that’s not so important. It just makes me older!
Aparicio and Fox were always my favorites and still are. I remember my dad saying the Sox made a trade and I said as long as it wasn’t Aparicio. Damnit, it was. For Alvarado and Mike Andrews. I was so pissed.
I’ve said it before, I will go to my grave a Sox fan. I just wish Reinsdorf, Williams and Hahn cared as much for the team as we all do in Sox Machine. They just come across as smug shits.
“Hey, why should we give a damn as long as we’re pulling in the dough!” There’s our billboard sign!


That’s the worst part about it. They are just so smug. It’s almost like they are trying to piss us off. And yet we still support them. But I will always root for the players in the White Sox uniforms. I’m just like a little kid watching the games, rooting for them. And like I said above, once the game starts, I forget who the imbeciles are running the team. They are still my #1 team in all the sports.


Yeah, well, until we see Vaughn and Sheets in the outfield. Then we’re reminded who’s running the team!
Bears are easily my number 2 team and I think they will turn the corner next season. The Blackhawks are years away from being good. But like you, the Sox are number 1. Always have been, always will be. And I’ve also thought the same………….maybe they’re trying to piss us off but I have no idea why they’d want to do that.


I don’t know of any reason for that either. Which leads me to believe that they are just utterly incompetent.

Yeah, I really like what the Bears are doing. They brought in a GM from a winning organization and McCaskey is letting him run the show. That’s what Jerry needs to do, but will never do it.


Whoever thought I’d wish the McCaskey’s owned the Sox?!!
It’s odd that the same guy that traded a few picks to move up to draft Trubisky and got it horribly wrong also drafted who looks like the face of the franchise. And possibly a top 5 QB in all of football!


One of my first posts on this site was after The Russa hiring and telling anyone that would listen, this is the equivalent of JR flipping everyone off and turning his back on them.

That sentiment remains.


You don’t think that JR absolutely felt hiring TLR would correct the wrong that Harrelson made in the 80’s and fooled himself into thinking that La Russa would win a World Series with this team? Listen, he’s 86 years old and been out of touch for a long time but in my heart I don’t think he hired him to tell us all to get screwed. I think he just led with his heart and not his head.
Not defending Reinsdorf but even if he’s a bad business man, he’s still a business man.


Yeah, deep down I don’t think they are really out to screw the fans. Jerry is a businessman, and screwing over the fans would not be good business. But he needs to stay out of the baseball operation like it looks that McCaskey has done with the Bears. Unfortunately, Jerry won’t hire a Ryan Poles type to run the team. He continues to go with a guy who is very bad at his job. And who is also a Jerry puppet who won’t stand up to him when he makes a horrific move like hiring LaRussa. And because Jerry wants to stay involved in decision making, he will never be able to hire a Poles-type GM, because no really good GM would allow to be hamstrung by a meddling owner.


Maybe Jim and Josh should hold a Soxless FanFest. And maybe it would turn out to be a Sox Fanless Fest.

Joliet Orange Sox

I’m in for the long haul as well. I think I’m younger than @roke1960 (assuming he was born in 1960) by just a bit. I think the older fans around here are more likely to stay fans following the Sox closely and not just because it’s a habit of a lifetime at this point. I think it’s selection bias in that the sample of Sox fans who are baby boomers have all seen the Sox lose 90 or more games 13 times after the streak of winning seasons between 1951 and 1967 ended. We didn’t leave then (maybe we should have) so we’re not likely to leave now.


I started during the Allyn’s and it feels like we’ve come full circle to the 1970’s after their failed moves to Milwaukee and Seattle when they just quit and went into complete absentee owner mode. I didn’t know better back then but a lot of the old timers were disgusted after ’72 (actually after the followup in ’73). Little did everyone know that their wish of a new owner would come true but he had no money and we’d be back in the same place a couple years later. I could see the same thing happening with the next owner now (didn’t it just happen in Miami?) with a sham ownership group and no funds to run it. Maybe they can put a coat of white paint on new comiskey too.

Papa Giorgio

Thank god Purdue Basketball has been good the past few years


Sean Murphy traded to the Braves. Rick will make some trades now that the biggest trade prize is spoken for and most of the free agents have signed, right? Right?


Regardless, will he make the right trades?


Graveman is not bringing back a huge return, but Hahn can’t trade his key Free Agent acquisition.


most have signed but there’s still some meat left on the FA bone with Correa, Rodon, Swanson, and Bassitt yet unsigned. specifically the lefty LF market still has Brantley, Benintendi, Conforto, Gallo, Profar yet unsigned. and as for LHH 2B, adam frazier’s also still on the open market… if the FO would spend a little fuckin’ money for once!


Bassitt now off the board. They pretty much said they are going to sign no more than 1 of those players, but might make a trade.


The teams that are actually trying to win keep getting better while the White Sox are signing Detroit Tigers castoffs.


If you can’t beat them, then be like them…..


Or get coaches from somewhere near St. Louis.


The Michael Fulmer signing will be announced soon.


I think that Jays rotation has chance to be really good.

As Cirensica

most have signed but there’s still some meat left on the FA

The White Sox are vegan.


Well played.

Bonus Baby


This gave me some hope for a couple reasons: 1) Benintendi apparently only wants 5 years, which seems more within the realm of possible for the Sox, even if it’d still be long for them; 2) If the Yankees trade for one of the D-Backs LHOF’s, Oswaldo Cabrera may be underused enough that the Sox could pry him away with Hendriks or something. Same thing with Gleyber Torres if Cabrera moves to the IF (though I’d prefer Cabrera).


Yep, I would be happy with Benintendi and Frazier now.


Happy? No. I’d be surprised with either and shocked with both.


At first glance it looks like the A’s just got a bulk haul of non-top 100 prospects. Am I missing something here?


And the Brewers got a starting catcher without giving much up. I hope Hahn was watching.

Bonus Baby

Two more reasons for me personally to have hope (which I don’t think Jim mentioned):

1. Roster construction. Just find players and construct a roster where people play their natural positions. If they can just figure out a way to do that for LF and 2B with lefties that seem likely to have 2-WAR seasons, it would be such a huge improvement. Is that too much to ask?

2. I can’t not be hopeful, the alternative is too painful. If they really blew their chance in the last couple years by hiring TLR and having a roster constructed w/4 1B/DH types, it would be just such an utterly pathetic conclusion to a rebuild that had such promise. I know a lot of folks on here are at that stage, but I really want to see what a likely adequate manager/training staff can do with this team, with just a couple additions to make the roster make sense. So I’m still hopeful for the beginning of 2023, though if Sheets is starting in the OF, my hope will be sorely tested.


Is that too much to ask?

Literally, LOL….hahaha


I thought Sheets made strides in the direction of defensive adequacy in right. That said, he’d then have to hit like a corner outfielder. He’s not there yet. My OPP had Sheets as depth in Charlotte

Bonus Baby

I think you’re right, and I don’t mind him having some games out there, but he can’t be one of their 3 top guys in the OF (really I think they should also have a RH 4th OF who is not him). I kind of like him primarily as a 1B/DH/pinch hitter on the bench, and think/hope he’ll improve his hitting a bit this year.


And the Twins get better with Christian Vazquez.

In the words of Toni Morrison, if someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time. And JR has told us the first, second, all the way to the final time who he is–cheap, uninspired, uncreative, content to be baseball’s bridesmaid. And he surrounds himself with people who are more than happy to occupy the same space.

This is who he is, and who the White Sox are under him. Any mistaking of that, at this point, is on us fans.


Very well said. Precise, biting, and on point.


JR – “Finish in second place every single year because your fans will say ‘Wow, we got a shot. We’re in it!’ But there’s always the carrot left.”

Even if this quote isn’t true, which it very well may be, his actions sure support it as such.

Last edited 3 months ago by Tweaky

Everywhere you look when it comes to the Sox, it’s bad. I’m hoping for some glimmer of optimism to come from somewhere, but I don’t know why in the world I’d think that’s even possible.


Sox continue to be the team running in place while others improve, Zunino signs with Cleveland.

Augusto Barojas

But the Sox are open minded about making improvements! Even if they did not actually do anything, they thought about it. It’s the thought that counts.


Giants sign Manaea and Stripling to 2/$25 mil contracts. It amazing how someone who doesn’t guardrail their options can still come out with sensible deals while being in the discussion of most major players. They earlier had signed Haniger to a reasonable 3/$43 mil deal and after those still have a projected payroll less than $160 mil and are still the favorite to land Correa.

Last edited 3 months ago by upnorthsox

Even if they don’t land Correa I bet their fans feel like they’ve done a good job of being active this winter.