White Sox must atone for Jerry Reinsdorf’s mistake – Chicago Sun-Times

White Sox must atone for Jerry Reinsdorf's mistake - Chicago Sun-Times

One of the harshest realities of fandom is that someone else owns something you love. In October 2020, White Sox fans were slapped with that reality when president Jerry Reinsdorf hired Tony La Russa.

The disdain for La Russa’s second tenure as Sox manager will be dismissed as hindsight or Monday morning quarterbacking, but that’s false. The immediate and overwhelming response to the hiring was anger. Even the people who wanted to give it a chance had questions: Why him? why now The friendliness of the staff was easily identifiable for most Chicagoans, and it left a terrible aftertaste.

Reinsdorf’s unilateral decision strained the credibility of his front office, whose power he effectively usurped. It was a breach of public trust with the fan base. Sock people have every right to exact their revenge by keeping their money in their pocket for a while. The Sox are now on a “prove it” deal with the South Side.

It makes what happened Monday at 35th and Shields especially interesting. Beyond La Russa’s retirement press conference, Sox brass had what it deemed an “end-of-the-season media availability.” The only problem was the season didn’t end. It offered a convenient out for general manager Rick Hahn to not be pressed on specific players. It’s a line he took several times during the question-and-answer session.

While discussing the upcoming executive search, Hahn explained that the right candidate would have recent experience in the dugout at a championship level. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s pretty much exactly what he said in 2020 after the team fired Rick Renteria:

“Ultimately, I think the best candidate or the ideal candidate is going to 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 will keep an open mind.”

I can’t figure out if Sox fans are gaslighted or if Hahn is trying to retcon the franchise. It feels like he wants you to believe that the “new Auntie Viv” is the same as the “old Auntie Viv”. That felt harsh … Daphne Maxwell Reid did a great job as “new Aunt Viv”, but you get what I’m saying.

Sox vice president Ken Williams and Hahn appeared set to hire current Tigers manager AJ Hinch. There were even renderings of a press release that had Hinch’s signature on La Russa’s picture. Some of these interpretations leaked into the public square and allowed speculation that this was some kind of internal rebellion on an owner gone mad.

The problem is still trust — trust that the process won’t be hijacked by Reinsdorf again. Who knows? Perhaps Reinsdorf has more friends to whom he feels he owes. Maybe he feels guilty about Ribbie and Roobarb. Don’t get too comfortable, Southpaw!

For the most part, I think Williams and Hahn have good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The last two years have happened and are full of consequences. Inflated salaries, positional redundancies and unmet expectations will leave the brain trust of the Sox propped up against a budget imposed by Reinsdorf. It’s an excuse Sox fans have heard before. Hahn and Williams will have to be creative if they want to succeed, but, to be honest, their creativity has left a lot to be desired lately.

Hahn spent a good amount of time Monday laying out a sensible approach to this next managerial hire, 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 rebuild with promises of brighter days.

Reinsdorf owes it to Sox fans. His hand-picked manager failed. Pull out Agent K’s “neuralizer” if you will, but they won’t soon forget these two wasted years of a championship window. Nor should they. Faith goes both ways, and Reinsdorf is passed over.

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