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Jerry Reinsdorf talks contraction again

Jul 26, 2012, 12:32 PM EDT

Reinsdorf, chairman of MLB team Chicago White Sox and NBA basketball team Chicago Bulls, smiles as he participates at the 2010 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf was at the forefront of the totally and utterly bogus contraction scare from 2002. He’s back at it, at least hypothetically:

Speaking on a panel discussion about baseball in Israel, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was asked by a fan about the possibility of international expansion. He said he’d rather see two teams contracted.

“I don’t see any baseball expansion right now,” he said. “If it were up to me, I would contract two teams. But I certainly don’t think expansion on the horizon.”

When fans yelled, “What two teams?” Reinsdorf clammed up.

“I have a habit of getting myself into trouble,” he said. “I just did yesterday. So I’m not going to (get in trouble).”

He’d get less trouble from offering his contraction wish list — parlor games are fun — than he should for even half-seriously suggesting that contraction is a possibility in the first place.

Contraction is not going to happen absent a severe financial crisis in major league baseball. I’m talking billions of dollars lost. Why? Because it would have to be something like that before the costs of contraction would no longer outweigh the benefits.

Owners of any teams that were contracted would have to be bought out.  In a world where franchise values are at, a minimum, $500 million, contracting two teams — which you would have to do to keep a sane schedule — would cost in the billions, simply to make the contracted owners give up their property.  That’s before you figure in all of the contracts that would have to be bought out and torn up between the team and its business partners, sponsors and media affiliates and the subsequent litigation.

Then you get the political problems: you think local politicians, governors and members of Congress are gonna sit by while the local nine are contracted? There will be hearings and ugliness for months if not years if someone seriously attempted to contract a team. Yeah, baseball LOVES that, so they’d totally make that happen.

Oh, and the labor issues too. The union would consider it to be an assault on membership, because some 50 major league jobs would go bye-bye and the salaries for the remaining players would go down as more guys compete for fewer roster spots.

Baseball contraction is less likely than a game going off tonight with a starting outfield consisting of the Easter Bunny, Roy Hobbs and a golem-player comprised of Raul Mondesi’s body and Ted Williams’ unfrozen, reattached head. Anyone who ever brings it up seriously deserves to be laughed out of the meeting hall.

  1. Ben - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Contraction is totally nutso in the current climate, but if I were the A’s I’d start talking about contraction just to see if I could get MLB into a game of chicken and force the stadium/move issue. Not that it would work, but I would love to see Bud Selig turn purple.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      You want to see him turn purple? Just tell him that a bunch of people have sent him physical letters about wanting instant replay.

    • budselog - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      Bud will continue to sit on his hands and avoid conflict with the Giants and the A’s. It sucks for the A’s because they’d just like a judgement either way. Yes, they want their way, but they really just want a decision already. Nothing is happening and they are stuck in baseball purgatory. Meanwhile, Billy Beane is building the next great Moneyball team in this current baseball climate.

      I don’t mind contraction, but honestly I’d rather see teams move. Tampa needs to get the fuck out of that stadium and state probably. Same for the A’s. Honestly, I’d love to see the Marlins go far, far away as well. When will this Florida baseball experiment come to an end already? Florida baseball REEKS.

  2. pjmitch - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Yea, but the Easter Bunny is having a pretty good year

    • sknut - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      Roids….I want him tested NOW! He will never get into the Holiday mascot hall of fame as long as I have a vote.

  3. royhobbs39 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    I could play with the other two, but not the Easter bunny.

  4. nategearhart - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    What kind of monster would employ Ozzie Guillen and A.J. Pierzynski for years, and run Frank “Mountain o’ Hugs” Thomas out of town? This douchebag right here.

    • dadawg77 - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      Well to be fair, his teams have won seven championships in my life while the other (major) teams have won 2. Kenny ran Frank out and I think Jerry was the one who brought Frank back after he retired.And does 05 happen without Ozzie and AJ. I guess what I am saying is winning a World Series (especially in Chicago) does cure a lot of ills.

      • nategearhart - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:02 PM

        I’m a Royals fan, bud. You’re not helping :) .

    • hep3 - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      Reinsdorf’s biggest crime might be keeping Ken Harrelson employed. I would love to hear the Hawk utter a big, “HE GONE!” on the day he is terminated.

  5. cur68 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    The Beaver Men are calling up the Easter Bunny even as the game goes on right now. I hope he can pitch.

    • nbjays - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      Ain’t happening, Cur… how can the Easter Bunny expect to deliver eggs when he is out for the season with a messed up UCL. :-)

      • cur68 - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:01 PM

        Your point, sir. Unless the rabbit is related to . . . RA Dickey! Then he’ll be just fine.

  6. number42is1 - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    I’m sitting in a meeting and i did a Snort/Laugh at that last part…. thank you!

  7. chill1184 - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    As pointed out, MLB is no where near the problems that NBA and according to some people the NHL are facing in regards to league health. If anything MLB should probably remove owners who deliberately tank their clubs however the devil you know could be better than the devil you dont.

  8. Kevin S. - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    The list of teams for contraction should start with any franchise that’s so strapped for cash it has to use the CBA to force teams not to spend above its desired levels on amateur talent. Oh, what’s that Jerry? You actually have the money and were just being a cheap-ass sonofabitch? Got it.

  9. Old Gator - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Reinsdorf’s contractions are getting closer and closer together. The next time he opens his mouth, I expect his water to break.

  10. pinkfloydprism - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Well, if I were in charge of contraction, I would take a team from each league. The Marlins would be first because their owners are numb… and then the Rays because their region does not draw fans. If not the Rays, then I would loop back to the NL and take the D’Backs. I live there and when I go to games, no one is there. Their fans only show for weekend and playoff games (if they make it).

  11. mybrunoblog - Jul 26, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    While I agree MLB contraction is mostly dead you should never say never. Anything is possible. Maybe not today but who knows in 5 or 10 years where things will be. We never know if or when the bottom will fall out.
    Who thought 20 years ago a franchise could be worth 2 billion $ or player contracts over $100 million would be fairly common?

  12. tashkalucy - Jul 26, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Contraction in these economic times makes sense.

    Here is a workable scenario:

    1. Work with the players association to contract the 2 teams. For the 50 jobs lost, offer to expand rosters for the remaining 28 teams by 2 players, generating 56 jobs.

    2. Contract the A’s and Indians.

    The Giants outperform the A’s in the Bay Area and average of 7-1 when both teams are on TV on the same day.

    Indians fans are fed-up with the ownership and the front office, they have no faith in either and rank last in average attendance MLB-wide even though the team has been over .500 most of the year and has a chance, on paper, of winning the AL Central.

    3. Let the Astros stay in the NL – that’s what Houston fans want, they don’t want to move to the AL.

    4. Move the Rays into Progressive Field in Cleveland.

    The Rays have a high-octane front-office and a team that knows how to win. Yet they can’t draw in Tampa Bay. The park is an embarrassment, but in these economic times no one is going to pay to construct a new facility, when the locals don’t support the team even when they win.

    Northeastern Ohio fans have always supported contending teams. Sold out the Cavs with Lebron. Sell out the expansion Browns even though they stink. And had something like 455 consecutive sellouts in the mid-90′s when the Indians had a good team (one year they put tickets on sale the weekend before Thanksgiving, and had to hold some tickets out for walk-up sales, else every seat for the entire season would have been sold out over a 2 day weekend).
    - – -
    Yes, Tampa would be the big loser, and would probably have to root for the Marlins or Rangers. But the Bay Area fans would still have their lovable Giants (with one of the best parks in MLB).

    The Astros fans would be tickled to remain in the AL.

    NE Ohio fans could root for their team again, instead of wishing they lose so the owner will have to sell.

    The quality of play would improve.

    The Indians and A’s ownerships would be bought out – both are tapped out financially and cannot afford to keep their players when they become established and want market salaries. The fire sales the 2 teams constantly conduct is a mark on MLB showing it as being almost and unprofessional as the NBA.

    The Rays ownership, which has been sterling, would be able to generate cash flow commensurate with their abilities, efforts and accomplishments.

  13. lanflfan - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    If he’s not happy, Mr. Reinsdorf can feel free to contract himself from MLB. I’m guessing few will miss him.

  14. cereal blogger - Jul 26, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Not a fan of the guy but he’s right, there would be a better product on the field with 5-6 less teams

  15. stoutfiles - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    The league is finally perfectly balanced. Once the Astros relocate we will have 5 teams in every division. Perfect.

    If teams don’t make money, then move it to a city that wants a team and will support it. Oklahoma City is doing this with basketball, why not baseball? If the problem is with balance, then put in a salary cap and stop letting big market teams put together All-Star teams.

    • chill1184 - Jul 27, 2012 at 1:18 AM

      Moving a baseball team isn’t as easy as moving a basketball or hockey team for that matter. I’m not saying that I disagree with your idea but it’s easier said than done.

  16. willbeking - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    What MLB should do instead of contraction is expansion and relocation. They should make OAK move all the way to Jersey and Tampa move to Brooklyn. Then put expansion franchises in Connecticut and Syracuse. Currently there are four teams (BOS, NYY, NYM & PHI) that share the revenue rich NE corridor. If you expand that to eight teams it will cut into the revenue base o each of those four teams. BOS, and the NY teams would lose fans in Connecticut. Both NY teams would lose fans to Brooklyn. The NYY (more than the NYM) & Philly would lose fans to Jersey. And a team in Syracuse would mostly take fans from the NYY. It would be a free market solution to the ever growing disparity between the rich markets and everyone else. If MLB does not want to force revenue sharing of local tv contracts as they do with gate revenue and national media contracts then they can use the marketplace to do it without resorting to a salary cap. Then they could go to four-eight team divisions.

    The AL East would be:
    BOS, NYY, BLT, TOR, DET, CLE, BROOKLYN (formerly TAM) and the Syracuse expansion team.
    The AL West would be:
    KC, MIN, CWS, MIL(moving back to AL) LAA, SEA, TEX and HOU

    The NL East would be:
    ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS, PIT, Jersey (formerly OAK) and the expansion in Connecticut
    The NL West would be:
    CHC, CIN, StL, ARI, COL, LAD, SDO,and SFO

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