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It took Scott Merkin three words to turn the premise of his interview with Brooks Boyer into a tenuous one.
CHICAGO — A positive buzz already has been tied to the 2010 Chicago White Sox, without a pitch being thrown or a bat being swung.
If I were Dan Dierdorf, I’d say I’m not so sure there isn’t a negative buzz not absent. Looking at it another way, if there’s a “positive buzz” surrounding the White Sox, there must be pandemonium in Minnesota.
Minnesota is doing what Kenny Williams said he’d do but never did — wait until February for bargains. After signing Jim Thome unnecessarily, because he’s good and cheap, they upgraded their infield by signing Orlando Hudson for a year.
Adding Hudson’s $5 million to the Twins’ books, they’ve boosted payroll from $65 million to an estimated $96 million. That’s within spitting distance of the White Sox’s payroll, and whenever they do extend Joe Mauer, that will nudge them even closer.
The good news is that their rotation doesn’t stand up, and they’re banking heavily on Francisco Liriano to bolster the top of it. That should keep the disparity between the Twins and Sox from being exaggerated too greatly.
It’s a disheartening one-two punch nevertheless. Not only are the Twins adjusting to the demands of their new ballpark while the Sox are fighting their own, but they’re almost equal in resources, too.
Johnny Damon is the other shoe waiting to drop. The links to the Tigers are growing in number, and if he signs with Detroit for anything resembling what the Sox are paying Juan Pierre, the Sox will be paying more than just money for their misallocations.
Positive buzz or not, the interview with Boyer is interesting, and I’d recommend reading it. For example, the formulation of the new campaign says a lot:
I think this year’s commercials, if they go off the way we want them to go off, are a little more grinderish. Because you are going with a tagline of “It’s Black or White,” all based on the honesty of the team and a work ethic, I don’t think they are going to be as funny as they were. I think they are going to be cool, but we have some viral things planned that we think have a chance to be funny and engaging and so truthful.
I’m both surprised and not at all surprised that “grinder” is still popular, mainly because I can’t wait for it to run its course, and it probably never will.
Still, I see “grinderish” and “work ethic,” and I see the byproduct of this whole glorification of the grinder — a team fighting itself to score runs. In other words, I’m seeing this slogan:
BASEBALL SHOULDN’T LOOK EASY
It kind of goes back to the Mark Teahen thing. The Sox are emphasizing some idea of a “work ethic” and a “ballplayer,” meaning that a guy has to give 110 percent to be just halfway decent, whereas I prefer clearly defined skills that easily translate to projectable success. Emphasizing defense at DH doesn’t seem to help.
At any rate, “Black or White” is a far cry from the running thread of potential slogans at South Side Sox. A few of my favorites:
- Look Busy, Do Nothing
- No Fireworks on Dog Day Now Year Round
- Because You Touch Yourself At Night
Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t happy with the Cubs, who decided to stay in Mesa thanks to a Cactus League ticket surcharge that will help fund their new park.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith fired back:
“Is this the same Jerry Reinsdorf that skipped out on Pima County taxpayers who had spent tens of millions of dollars to provide him with a taxpayer-funded stadium, to come to Glendale, where Maricopa County taxpayers provided him a Taj Mahal spring-training facility?” Smith said. […] “The irony is delicious,” Smith said.
I have to agree with the mayor. Reinsdorf doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to a personal beef.
For one, if he were so concerned about high ticket prices, he wouldn’t be charging way more than any other team (besides the Dodgers) in the Cactus League. That pretty much saws the legs off the high horse he wants to be riding.
And then there’s the fact that he could be biting the hand that feeds him. Games against the Cubs are the only true difference-maker between Glendale attendance and Tucson attendance, and it’s the only time the Sox are going to sell out Camelback Ranch unless Michael Jordan plans to revive his baseball career.
Now, objection from Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall? That’s a little more credible. If all Cactus League owners are on board, then Reinsdorf would probably be better served sitting in back while this plays out. I still imagine the Cubs will stay in Arizona, but the gymnastics are going to be impressive.