White Sox must fix Jerry Reinsdorf’s mistake

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

The disregard for La Russa’s second term as Sox manager will be dismissed as a throwback or Monday morning quarterback, but it’s wrong. The immediate and overwhelming reaction to the hiring was anger. Even the people who were ready to give him a chance wondered: why him? Why now? The rental cronyism was easy to identify for most Chicagoans, and it left a terrible taste.

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

That makes what happened Monday at 35th and Shields particularly interesting. Beyond the La Russa retirement press conference, the Sox brass had what they considered “end-of-season media availability.” The only problem was that the season wasn’t over. It offered a convenient exit for general manager Rick Hahn not to be rushed on specific players. It’s an exit he took repeatedly throughout the Q&A session.

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

“At the end of the day, I think the best or ideal candidate will be someone who has experience with a championship organization over the past few years,” Hahn said. “Recent experience in October with a championship organization would be ideal. But we will keep an open mind.

I can’t tell if Sox fans are gassed or if Hahn is trying to reestablish the franchise. Looks like he wants you to believe that “new Aunt Viv” is the same as “old Aunt Viv”. It was tough… Daphne Maxwell Reid did a great job as ‘New Aunt Viv’, but you know what I’m saying.

Sox vice president Ken Williams and Hahn seemed set to hire current Tigers manager AJ Hinch. There were even renderings of a press release that had Hinch’s signature on a photo of La Russa. Some of these renders leaked into the public square and led to speculation that it was some sort of internal rebellion against an owner gone mad.

The problem continues to be trust – trust that the process will not be hijacked by Reinsdorf again. Who knows? Reinsdorf may have more friends he feels he owes. Maybe he feels guilty for 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 passed and are filled with consequences. Inflated salaries, job layoffs and unmet expectations will leave the Sox brain trust buoyed by a budget imposed by Reinsdorf. It’s an excuse Sox fans have heard before. Hahn and Williams will have to get creative if they are to succeed, but, to be honest, their creativity has left a lot to be desired lately.

Hahn spent a lot of time Monday crafting a sensible approach for this next executive hire, but until we know Reinsdorf’s thumb is off the scale, none of the words matter. Fans are fed up. Sox fans were loyal during a rebuild with promises of better days.

Reinsdorf owes Sox fans. His hand-picked manager failed. Get out Agent K’s “neuralyzer” if you want, but they won’t soon forget those wasted two years of a championship window. Neither should they. Trust goes both ways and Reinsdorf is late.

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