We can’t be far from sports teams and organizations banning any of their management team from speaking at any kind of conference or forum. It’s what started the whole Gregg Berhalter fiasco, even if he thought it was a private, closed event. Jerry Reinsdorf pulled the same trick yesterday, and with fans of both his teams in Chicago in open revolt against his ownership, you’d think this would be an excellent time for him to remain in shut-the-fuck-up mode as he usually is. But when you’re Reinsdorf and so removed from the people you pretend to serve, you probably don’t have any idea what reality is.
Reinsdorf’s quotes spread far beyond the South and West sides of Chicago though, as they are certainly shared by a fair few of his ownership brethren both in MLB and the NBA. Blake Schuster of USA Today’s Bet FTW had a whole thread, and we can pick it apart here:
It will get better from here, but Reinsdorf is not talking about those who run their teams poorly. In his mind, the dumb owners are the ones who spend money or don’t hold the line the way the old guard like he and others do (Reinsdorf was a major figure in baseball’s collusion case in the 80s so you’d think he’d learn, but let’s not overdose on logic), as you’ll soon see:
Again, Reinsdorf’s problem isn’t that he might end up with a bad player. It’s that he’ll have to spend money at all. He’s not arching an eyebrow at Bob Nutting or John Fisher, but at Steve Cohen or Peter Seidler.
White Sox, Bulls fans want stars
White Sox fans wanted Manny Machado. Or Aaron Judge. Or any of the shortstops they could have had this past winter. They wanted another starter. They wanted bullpen arms. Bulls fans wanted something other than the mismatched array of Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. They wanted 3-and-D supporting cast. They want the team to be in the luxury tax, which they’ve earned considering that they still buy all the tickets available. Nobody has gotten any of that, and if Jerry’s so smart, how come neither of these teams has won dick in 18 years? Because as you’ll soon see, that’s exactly how he wants it.
‘Sports is a business of failure’
Now we get to the meat of it, and what MLB is really after:
This was the ethos behind the expansion of the playoffs in MLB, and the room-temperature lager that Reinsdorf has served up at the United Center with the Bulls. In his mind, and a lot of other owners’, it’s too much of a pain in the ass (or wallet) to construct a true power. But if you can fool your fans into thinking that if everything breaks the team’s way, they’ll believe you did a good job if those things happen even if they’re beyond your control. It’s enough to get a B- (which I guess I can’t criticize because that was my ethos in school too, but I wasn’t running two sports franchises). Get into the playoffs and try to convince your fans that it’s simply the fates that are against them when your 88-win baseball team or 47-win basketball team gets railroaded by an actually serious team. Oh well!
Unless you want to hire your overmatched, drunk buddy to make up for a mistake you think you made three decades ago and basically poison what should have been an exciting young baseball team for the foreseeable future. Then it’s perfectly OK to tell your GM and front office to do one.
Anyone who spent time in the real bleachers of Wrigley back in the day, especially in center field, knows that any yahoo desperate enough can bet on the next pitch within seconds, and they didn’t have a phone to do it. Also, get fucked. It’s as Reinsdorf-ian as it can get to take something that has basically earned universal praise from fans and might even lure a few back to the game and shit on it because they can’t vacuum up a few extra dollars.
The major sports leagues keep changing
While Reinsdorf is the biggest culprit of simply choosing not to put either of his teams over the top simply because he doesn’t feel like it, he’s hardly unique. And every league constantly changes its rules and systems to make sure that only a few teams can swing for the downs, and only for a short time. The expanded playoff fields and random natures of baseball and soccer have been the route MLB and MLS have chosen. Hard salary caps keep the NHL and NFL all on level terms for the most part, or at least tightly bracketed. The new CBA in the NBA is the league moving toward that as best they can, though the difference one or two players can make in basketball will always see an aristocracy.
It is sad that a team’s fanbase can be launching as much of an insurrection as they can, and someone like Reinsdorf can simply ignore it or not even see it from his ivory tower. The White Sox and Bulls mean a lot more to a lot of people than they do to Reinsdorf, who clearly now only sees them as an ATM and has nothing but contempt for anyone who might threaten that. Sports and teams should not just be any other business in a portfolio, given what they can mean to a community. Perhaps that’s even more true for the Sox, who can be and should be a source of pride for a section of Chicago that has been kicked around pretty damn hard for a decade. And yet this is what men like Reinsdorf have allowed these teams to become. And now he’s not even pretending anything else.
Cue the Odd Couple theme
On the brighter side…
While Snoop is an avowed Ducks fan (or was), it’s still quite the juxtaposition for him to be in the running to buy a hockey team. And not just a hockey team, but perhaps the blandest hockey team anyone could think of, that is if most anyone could remember that the Senators still exist. This is a team so dull-assed that they don’t even play in Ottawa, but in some weigh station outside of it, which isn’t too different from being sentenced to perform in a suburb of Branson. Ottawa may be the capital, but it also mostly exists in case your car breaks down between Montreal and Toronto, as you’d only be anywhere near there to get between the two far more interesting places. The team itself has a history I’m told, but no one is able to locate any records of it. The Sens’ entire existence has been that girlfriend your friend in 7th grade had but you don’t know her, she lives in Canada. Perhaps no team could use a spicing-up that Snoop could provide, but there are some challenges too great.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate as he continues to play with the matches known as staying in White Sox business.