Just one day after Yankees co-chairmen Hank Steinbrenner said that Major League Baseball should not “put teams in minor markets,” Chicago White Sox General Manager Ken Williams called the financial state of baseball “asinine.”
Williams was referring to the reports that St. Louis Cardinals free agent first baseman Albert Pujols will likely be receiving a contract worth upwards of $30 million per year. “For the game’s health as a whole, when we’re talking about $30 million players, I think it’s asinine,” he said. “We have gotten to the point of no return. Something has to happen. And if it means the game being shut down for the sake of bringing sanity to it, to franchises that are not going to stop the insanity, I’m all for it.”
Despite working in a top baseball market, Williams supported baseball’s smaller cities in his answers to Comcast SportsNet about the Pujols contract negotiations. “The teams in Pittsburgh and Kansas City, the smaller market teams, deserve just as much of an opportunity as the White Sox [and] the Cubs…the Yankees, Boston” he said. “There’s just too much of a disparity.”
Williams reiterated that baseball become popular in the 1970’s and 80’s by successes of small market teams such as the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals. “I think it’s important that the people and the cities that I just mentioned and many more have just as much chance to hope and dream about their team winning a World Series as anybody else,” Williams said. “Right now that’s not happening.”
From a Baltimore perspective, the Orioles rank anywhere from the low to mid twenties in television markets, making them a small market team in baseball. According to Williams, in order for Baltimore and other small markets to compete, the game may have to be “shut down.”
“You’re not going to get any disagreement from me or argument from me if the game is shut down for a while until something is put in place where there is some sort of cap on the board,” he said.