Jerry Reinsdorf gave another interview on Wednesday discussing the great internal White Sox conflict of 2010. The story is legend by now.
Jerry and Kenny Williams found themselves facing two roads diverged in a yellow wood, one long and arduous, but lacking in expense, and the other short, pleasureful, ungodly expensive, and with a promise of even harder choices at the end. Bravely, or at least surprisingly, Reinsdorf decided that the drudgery and shame of rebuilding was unacceptable, and decided to pony up the cash for last ride for glory.
If you think this story has been told a lot already, just imagine if the Sox actually win the darn thing.
And rightly so. As much like it seems that it should be inherent, owners stretching the budget for the sake of building a winner is rare in professional sports, and deserves appreciation, lest it goes away.
Jerry's actually been on a bit of a spree lately, though. On top of heading up the effort of the White Sox saving themselves from mediocrity, Reinsdorf--as a part of a separate business with separate finances, I must mention--has been overseeing the Chicago Bulls' rise to the elite, and been similarly aggressive in his language over there.
''If you don't see something special in Derrick Rose, then you're
blind,'' Reinsdorf said. ''We have an outstanding coach, an outstanding
bunch of players, the team is deep, and if we stay healthy, we have an
awfully good chance of winning at least four championships.''
One championship...well...those things can just happen. But four championships? That can get costly as far retaining players whose concept of their own value goes up exponentially with each ring. As such, Jerry's comment has sparked talk about him being willing to exceed the NBA's luxury tax. Between the team's aggressive free-agency season, Joakim Noah's contract extension, and paying Rose the goo-gobs of money he has coming, retaining the team's core for a multi-title run means paying the luxury tax might be a prerequisite.
That would certainly be a switch from Reinsdorf's previous hesitance to venture near such a barrier, but nothing compared to the shock it causes when placed in perspective.
Go to your closet, unthaw the baseball fan you kidnapped and encased in carbonite in 1993, inform them on Reinsdorf's latest activity. Now give them a cup of coffee so that they can spit it out in shock.
Time was, Reinsdorf was the guy referred to as a 'cheapskate' by Time Magazine. The guy who perpetuated the 1994 labor stoppage as much as anyone in his unyielding battle against increasing player wages, and also the guy who threatened to move the team to Addison unless he got tax incentives for a new stadium.
This guy is saying sometimes you gotta spend the money? He complained about paying too much money for Michael Jordan! Jordan! Do they even have the proper metrics to determined how much revenue Jordan generated?!?
So yeah, something has changed in Reinsdorf. His posturing that the White Sox are taking an awful risk with their payroll, and his musings on how it's bad to sign pitchers to more than three years, or how Scott Boras' cost Joe Crede tens of millions of dollars still represent the shrewd business man we've been forced to become familiar with, but not letting Konerko walk and revamping a flawed White Sox team seem like the type of possibly sentimental and economically risky options that he had no problem declining in the past...certainly not in 1997.
For the most part, Reinsdorf cites age and impatience. "The idea of being bad for two or three years is a horrible thought when you're 75 years old", Jerry quipped to Chris Rongey. And that's being optimistic, as a rebuilding process for the White Sox is more than a notion. When most teams use the term 'rebuilding', they mean the process of bringing prospects to maturity, not rebuilding one of the league's worst farm systems as well. So time, or whether it would even be wise to rebuild without giving Doug Laumann a few more drafts to build with could certainly be a factor.
From what I've found, people harden with age just as much as they soften, so pinning down the reason Reinsdorf decided he was dissatisfied with his legacy--that included 7 professional sports championships, a failed bid to buy the Coyotes, forcing the NBA salary cap through, and being the hardest screw of all the MLB owners for three decades--and needed to add championships to it, is ultimately a lot more speculation than this piece already offers.
There are limits. The Sox have a bit of a gap at 3rd base, Adrian Beltre was available, but we haven't gone 'get fleeced by Scott Boras for a 32 year-old coming off a contract year' crazy!
Reinsdorf is still Reinsdorf, and for a lot of Sox & Bulls fans, the idea of being cozy with Jerry will never agree with them, but this adjustment to an owner who is outwardly dedicated to winning and spending as necessary to facilitate that...well, that'll do.
One Link to Rule Them All
I haven't even read Jim's retrospective on former Sox manager Marty Marion, but this is a type of writing he's very good at.