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Damon, Surcharges and FM Radio

by Mike DePilla
Friday, February 19, 2010

Well boys and girls, this is the last post before spring training begins! Sox pitchers and catchers report to Glendale, Arizona tomorrow, after which we will have plenty of things to talk about. I will start out next week with my five things to watch for this spring.

Some odds and ends before real baseball starts:

The Johnny Damon thing is still dragging out. There are indications he would prefer to play in "cosmopolitan" Chicago for the competitive White Sox instead of in Detroit for the Tigers. But with agent Scott Boras, money almost always wins out. (The one recent exception to the "money wins out" is Andruw Jones. But Jones has the dubious distinction of being the first $18 million per year player to hit .158. So let's call him a special case.)

For Damon and Boras to have waited this long into the offseason, months after turning down a generous offer from his most preferred destination- the Yankees- the bottom line is going to be dollars. And it looks like the Tigers will offer him more of that, if only slightly. Is that million or two worth all this trouble to him? This is the same guy, don't forget, who in 2005 turned his back on Red Sox Nation, which loved him, to sign with the team's arch rival. Sure, there may have been other factors at play there, but it was mainly about money, and it made him look like a real phony.

However, even if I don't like the guy, there is no denying the significant improvement he would bring to the Sox. In a vacuum, he may not be a big impact player, but he fits the needs of this Sox team perfectly.

With one day until spring training, Kenny Williams is not going to get sucked into Scott Boras' games. It seems Kenny is willing to pay market value for Damon, but not Boras value. And I'm fine with that. If it happens, it'll be on the Sox terms.

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Chris Rongey conducted a very good interview with Darrin Jackson on White Sox weekly this morning that revealed a contradiction in Ozzie's 2010 gameplan. Jackson, normally a toe-the-company-line guy, said he is not crazy about the rotating DH/OF/1B/everywhere plan because players are much more efficient when they have a set position and role with the club. Citing his own playing days, Jackson said players are more focused and productive when they are mentally prepared for one role.

DJ's thoughts fall right in line with the way the Sox are handling Mark Teahen, which was discussed next. The Sox have done everything they can to accommodate Teahen. A "versatility" guy in Kansas City, Teahen will play 3B every day in Chicago, with no competition for the job. And he got a guaranteed three-year contract to boot. Kenny has said he expects better performance out of Teahen now that he is so settled.

So the contradiction: Why is a set role important in one area of the club (3B) but not another (OF/DH, etc)? I understand that Kotsay, Jones, Vizquel, Pierre, etc. are all veteran while Teahen is a comparative youngster, but, to me, the same principle applies.

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It looks like the Cubs have found another way to scam their fans into paying more for their tickets. The organization that ruffled lots of feathers by scalping its own tickets has come up with this new plan: letting fans buy ticket early... for a 20% mark up over their face value.

You can justify that by saying the demand outstrips supply, especially for Wrigley Field tickets. Or that fans who don't want to pay the 20% surcharge can just wait until the regular on sale date (when, of course, a good chunk of the best tickets will already be gone). But in reality that is just another form of scalping. And where does it end? Will there be a pre-pre-sale next year, when you can buy tickets in November for a 50% surcharge?

Sad as this is, I'm sure other teams will be watching the success of this very closely and soon this kind of ploy could be commonplace across the league.

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Need more sports talk on the radio in Chicago? Ed Sherman of Crain's Chicago Business thinks there's a significant chance of adding a new sports talk station to the city's FM dial. He also connects the Sox to the would-be station, saying the Sox might consider moving their games there after their current contract at WSCR AM 670 ends this year.

That article is definitely worth reading, and the story is worth following.

A third sports talk station in town would be interesting, but I'd hope they wouldn't staff it with retreads like Mike North or Steve Dahl. How about some new blood? If they're looking for some young baseball guys, I can think of someone who would give it a shot! I don't have signature weird laugh like Terry Boers, but I can make tons of movie and TV references. Who wouldn't want to hear me talk White Sox in language borrowed from the Simpsons, Seinfeld and Aqua Teen all day?

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