Jerry Reinsdorf: “Say It Isn’t So, Joe”

By: Jacob Walters


Everyone knows about the Chicago Cubs and their lore: the 2016 World Series, “Let’s play two” and Harry Caray’s shenanigans in the broadcasting booth at the Friendly Confines. The list goes on. The Chicago Cubs have established their place in baseball as the “lovable losers.” However, there are two baseball teams in the Windy City. One of them is on the north side (Cubs) and the other the forgotten squad on the south side. Jerry Reinsdorf hasn’t done much to help the public notice the Chicago White Sox.

Reinsdorf, 84 and a Brooklynite, was a tax attorney and CPA with the Internal Revenue Service. He has made his cut in real estate through selling property and leasing it back, taking advantage of the Frank Lyon Co v. United States decision by the United States Supreme Court. As a result, he transferred the tax deduction for depreciation to the title owner. He also has been the owner of the Chicago Bulls for over 35 years. Reinsdorf has won six NBA Championships and was even inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

Success in the NBA hasn’t translated to the diamond. Since Reinsdorf bought the team in 1981, the White Sox have made the postseason a scant five times! Now, the White Sox did have an elite run where they won the World Series in 2005. That included four straight complete games in the ALCS against the Angels, an unprecedented feat. However, that’s not good enough almost four decades in the Second City. A tight wallet hasn’t inspired any confidence; at the end of each season since 2000, the White Sox have had payrolls in the top half of the spectrum. Their highest year-end payroll in that timespan was $125,814,762 in 2011… a season where they missed the playoffs. While this season’s installment of the White Sox does look promising, keep in mind that the White Sox are sitting on $121,719,499 in total payroll. That shows that Reinsdorf still isn’t willing to spend big bucks on free agents like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

As a result of Reinsdorf’s frugality, no one goes to White Sox games anymore. Last season’s total attendance for the White Sox sat at 1.63 million. Since 2007, the number has steadily dipped from 2.68 million to its current number. It doesn’t help that the prices have gone up. According to ticketiq.com, the White Sox were going to have their average ticket price set at $81. Basically, you’re paying $81 to watch the White Sox let you down every night. Hawk Harrelson isn’t even there any more to throw in some homerism! What a letdown! Then there are Jerry Reinsdorf’s comments about fooling the fans. In a Forbes piece written by Jared Wyllys, Reinsdorf made the following comment to former Miami Marlins president David Samson regarding ways to make money. “Here’s my best advice to you: Finish in second place every year. Because your fans will say, ‘Wow, we’ve got a shot. We’re in it.’ But there’s always the carrot that there’s always one more step to take.” That must rile up White Sox fans, especially when your cross-town rival is building Wrigleyville and remodeling the legendary Wrigley Field.

There are many reasons to dislike Jerry Reinsdorf. He’s notorious for being an anti-labor union hardliner, which makes him look like a jerk towards his mostly middle-class fans. Reinsdorf also had a role in breaking up the dynastic Bulls of the 1990s by not retaining Phil Jackson (as Hawk Harrelson would say, “HE GONE!”). Reasons enough why Reinsdorf is a horrible owner.

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