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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Our Only Hope?

by George Bova

Like most other Sox Fans reading the morning sports page has been hardly more than frustrating this past winter.  The Sox are too busy trying to get payroll under the self-imposed limit of the owner to bother much with making headlines with line up improvements or free agent signings.  We Sox Fans have been trained to expect the worst and this winter's inaction has just been one more burden to bear.  We're used to it. 

Unfortunately not everyone bears up under the burden quite as well as we would hope.  So I was hardly surprised to find an old friend's letter show up in the "letter to the sports editor" section of my newspaper.  In fact I wasn't surprised at all about his topic, the fate of the Sox with the usual doom and gloom prognosis I've come to know and expect from him.  I was only surprised he would bother to write to the editor.  

I'm not using his name because he is the sensitive type.  Several years ago I once had a disagreement with him about something else he once had written in the paper, responding with a column of my own here at WSI.  I took issue with his notion of blaming the fans for the White Sox failures.  That only made him mad.  I valued his friendship, empathized with his passion about the subject (though not his viewpoint) so I took down that column.  It's not part of the archive here, my only column that isn't published at White Sox Interactive. 

He's not affiliated with the White Sox organization and that is a shame.  He ought to be.  He has done about as much as anyone to help promote the team the past twenty-five years and he is as passionate a Sox Fan as I know.  The fact he would write a simple letter to the editor without any stated credentials beneath his name speaks volumes about his personal integrity.  He feels hurt at the way the Sox have treated him and I can hardly blame him.  He is a resource they should utilize, not ignore.  Just one more classic example of the mismanagement of the Sox franchise I suppose...

So why write a letter to the editor now?  I can't answer for him but I bet I know the answer.  He still cares.  Like all of us, he still cares.  In our hearts the White  Sox are our team, not Jerry Reinsdorf's.  What happens to our team is of prime importance to us. 

I admit I admire his passion for the subject.  The Sox are a subject of passion for me, too.  Unfortunately I can't agree with his central point:  that Jerry Reinsdorf is the only person that stands between our Sox staying in Chicago or our Sox leaving town.  Twenty-three years after this ownership group promised a first-class organization, we're begging for anyone who wouldn't move the ballclub?  Sorry but the fish aren't biting on that one.

The damage done to the Sox franchise the past two decades is all self-inflicted.  This website has been cataloguing the team's misadventures for over five years.  You can visit the archive and read all about it.  In determining the potential value of the Sox you can be sure any prospective new owner would include the added value of their own ability to better market the team than the two-legged P.R. disaster that Jerry Reinsdorf has proven himself to be. 

My friend suggests in his letter that if there was anyone truly interested in buying the Sox, nobody has provided names.  This is rather silly.  The sort of people with the financial resources and inside connections to buy a baseball franchise aren't the type to put their names in the paper.  To the contrary these people are savvy enough to know publicity can't possibly help their position in buying the team, but only hurt.  They hide their wealth and identity in much the same way Jerry Reinsdorf's minority partners remain anonymous to we Sox Fans.  Until Jerry Reinsdorf gives some indication he is interested in selling, it would be positively detrimental to their chances of buying the team to start shilling for it publicly.  This isn't too hard to understand, is it?

The fact is Jerry Reinsdorf and his partners have done quite well with their $20 million investment these past 23 years.  Besides the value of the major league contracts they hold, the lease agreement with the Illinois Sports Facility Authority has added a solid $200 million to the overall value of the franchise.  Sure, there might be sweetheart deals in other cities, but it is highly debatable that walking away from the one Reinsdorf already has in Chicago would be profitable to his bottom line.  A businessman like Reinsdorf understands the real costs of taking risks, and moving the Sox would be highly risky indeed.  The major contracts he has negotiated always include an out-clause for his side, most famously demonstrated by the diminished skills terms he exercised on Frank Thomas back in 2002.  Jerry Reinsdorf isn't going anywhere. 

So what about my friend's stated fear that new owners would move the team?

Such fears would be better founded if Reinsdorf made even private indications he wanted to sell.  In the meantime the smartest of these prospective owners keep quiet and make sure they stay tight with the people most likely to grease the skids of their bid, the political power that runs the City of Chicago.  That would be the city's #1 Sox Fan, the current mayor.  If my friend is silly enough to think Rich Daley doesn't know a few people with the resources and wherewithal to buy the Sox, he is very silly indeed.

Who will buy the Sox?  My friend's written plea is just a shade beyond silly.  He writes,  "Names please?  Interested parties?" 

My retort ought to be obvious.  "Pal, if you have to ask you can't afford it." 

George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive.  You can write George at

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