One of the harshest realities of fandom is that someone else owns something you love. In October 2020, White Sox fans received a slap in the face from that reality when chairman Jerry Reinsdorf hired Tony La Russa.
The disdain for La Russa’s second term as Sox manager will be dismissed as hindsight or Monday morning quarterback, but that is incorrect. The immediate and overwhelming reaction to the rent was anger. Even the people who wanted to give it a chance had questions: why him? Why now? Rent favoritism was easy to spot for most Chicagoans, and it left a terrible taste.
Reinsdorf’s unilateral decision put a strain on the credibility of his front office, whose power he had effectively usurped. It was a violation of the public’s trust with the fanbase. Sox fans have every right to exact revenge by keeping their money in their pockets for a while. The Sox now have a “prove it” deal with the South Side.
It makes what happened on Monday 35th and Shields especially interesting. Outside of La Russa’s press conference on retirement, Sox Brass had what it considered “end-of-season media availability.” The only problem was that the season wasn’t over yet. It provided an easy way out for general manager Rick Hahn not to be pressed on specific players. It’s a way out he took several times during the question-and-answer session.
When discussing the upcoming managerial search, Hahn explained that the right candidate would have recent experience in the championship-level dugout. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s almost exactly what he said in 2020 after the team fired Rick Renteria:
“Ultimately, I think the best candidate or the ideal candidate will be someone who has experience with a championship organization in recent years,” Hahn said. “Recent October experience with a championship organization would be ideal. But we remain open.”
I can’t figure out if Sox fans are getting fired or if Hahn is trying to recapture the franchise. It feels like he wants you to believe that the “new Aunt Viv” is the same as the “old Aunt Viv.” That felt hard… Daphne Maxwell Reid did a great job as “new Aunt Viv,” but you know what I mean.
Sox vice president Ken Williams and Hahn looked poised to hire current Tigers manager AJ Hinch. There were even images of a press release with Hinch’s signature on a photo of La Russa. Some of those displays leaked onto the public square, sparking speculation that this was some sort of internal rebellion against a maddened owner.
The problem remains trust – trust that the process will not be hijacked by Reinsdorf again. Who knows? Maybe Reinsdorf has more friends to whom he thinks he owes something. Maybe he feels guilty about Ribbie and Roobarb. Don’t make it too easy on yourself, Southpaw!
For the most part, I think Williams and Hahn have good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The past two years have happened and are full of consequences. Inflated salaries, layoffs and unfulfilled expectations will prop up the confidence of the Sox brain against a Reinsdorf-imposed budget. It’s an excuse Sox fans have heard before. Hahn and Williams will have to get creative if they want to succeed, but frankly, their creativity lately leaves a lot to be desired.
Hahn spent a lot of time on Monday devising a sensible approach to this next manager appointment, but until we know Reinsdorf’s thumb is off the scale, none of the words matter. Fans are tired of it. Sox fans were loyal during a remodel with promises of better days.
Reinsdorf owes Sox fans. His chosen manager failed. Pull out Agent K’s “neuralyzer” if you like, but they won’t soon forget these two wasted years of a championship window. Nor should they. Trust goes both ways, and Reinsdorf is overdue.
#White #Sox #pay #Jerry #Reinsdorfs #mistake