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View Full Version : Reinsdorf's barbs sound like those from 6 years ago


Jerry_Manuel
08-29-2002, 09:26 PM
I think you have to register for this story, so I'll just post it.

From the Trib:

Recalling spirit of '96

What goes around comes around, a concept White Sox fans understand all too well.

And for those Sox fans who remember the charge that the team was too "laid back" during the Terry Bevington era, Wednesday's state-of-the-Sox speech from Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf sounded like a blast from the past.

Asked to assess Reinsdorf's speech afterward, Sox ace Mark Buehrle said, "He just doesn't want everybody so laid-back."

Laid-back Sox? Too mellow to be a winner?

Flash back six years to September 1996, and it's deja vu all over again.

The Sox were in the middle of blowing a 4-game wild-card lead in the final month of the season, the team had commissioned a survey to pinpoint its attendance problems and rumors of a huge off-season shakeup were in the air.

Out of nowhere Reinsdorf absolved Bevington of any blame for the late-season collapse, pointing to the players as too laid-back. His case in point was third baseman Robin Ventura, one of his most popular players.

"There's a wonderful young man," Reinsdorf said. "You'd love to have him married to your daughter. But he's very laid-back. He has over 100 RBIs and over 30 home runs this year. But he's kind of a laid-back guy.

"When Harold Baines was here early in the '80s, no one really cared about him being laid-back because we had a lot of goofballs like Ron Kittle and Greg Luzinski and Jerry Koosman and [Tom] Paciorek. But now we don't have anybody of that nature. I think we have to get people with a little bit better personality, But they better be able to play baseball."

That team also included Tony Phillips, Ozzie Guillen and Frank Thomas, three of the more intense players of the day. Most of the Sox players argued against the notion that the team needed a personality transplant. Ventura, generally regarded as the team leader, took umbrage at the implication he was part of the problem.

"I don't think that has any effect on how I play or says I don't play hard," Ventura said in response to the accusation. "That's just the way I am."

The following winter Reinsdorf signed free agents Albert Belle and Jaime Navarro, totally changing the character of the Sox clubhouse. When that plan didn't work, the Sox went into a rebuilding mode that came to fruition sooner than anyone expected, resulting in a division title in 2000.

Since taking over after the 2000 season, general manager Ken Williams added clubhouse "personalities" such as David Wells, Jose Canseco and Kenny Lofton while subtracting some of the players who grew up together in 2000, including "laid-back" players such as Mike Sirotka, Kip Wells, Chris Singleton and Sean Lowe.

Williams may have underestimated how important Singleton and Lowe were to the clubhouse chemistry, while also underestimating how damaging Wells and Lofton could be in the clubhouse of a losing team.

Now the "laid-back" label is creeping back into the Sox vernacular as history repeats itself. And once again, changes will be made next spring to restore more discipline as the "Reinsdorf Rules" go into effect.

According to Jeff Liefer, Reinsdorf told the players they gave "no effort" this season, basically accusing them of mailing it in after their hot start in April.

Thus, "boot camp" replaces the general theme from spring training 2002, when the slogan "Focus, Energy, Intensity, Enthusiasm" was posted on the bulletin board of manager Jerry Manuel's office.

One of Reinsdorf's new directives, according to the players, is for regular position players to make the four-hour round-trips from Tucson, Ariz., up to the Phoenix area and back for Cactus League games. This long has been one of Reinsdorf's pet peeves since he lives in the Phoenix area and frequently attends those road games in neighboring Mesa, Scottsdale and Peoria.

Reinsdorf didn't mention any specific names, players said, although Thomas apparently was one of his primary targets. Thomas seldom has been forced to make the trips, following the unwritten superstar code in spring that allows players such as Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds to avoid the trips from Phoenix to Tucson and back.

Thomas, in the 50th day of his media boycott, declined through a Sox spokesman to talk after Wednesday's victory over Toronto.

The "country club" label being attached to the current edition of the Sox is also an oldie but goody from the Bevington era. It was former DH John Kruk who accused Bevington of having a "country club" atmosphere after Kruk abruptly quit the team in Baltimore during the summer of '95.

Bevington had been brought in to replace Gene Lamont after 31 games after Lamont's low-key style was deemed too "laid-back" by management.

Like Lamont, Manuel is a former American League manager of the year who guided a Sox team into the playoffs. Where Manuel stands in all this is unknown because Reinsdorf declines all interview requests.

What is known is that Manuel runs a clubhouse in which players are allowed to govern themselves. He's not a rules and regulations type of manager, preferring to let the players handle fines for being late for stretching and other transgressions.

He allowed Paul Konerko and Jose Valentin to criticize Thomas for blowing off practice the Sunday before the All-Star break, rather than rip Thomas himself to the media.

But realistically speaking, no player is going to tell a veteran like Thomas or Lofton to go shag balls during batting practice instead of relaxing in the clubhouse when they're done at the batting cage. If Reinsdorf demands more discipline, it's up to Manuel and his coaching staff to enforce his new rules.

In the end, Sox players probably will look good on the field next spring when they're standing together in front of the dugout during the playing of the national anthem, as Reinsdorf has decreed.

But if the team has an earned-run average of 4.74 next Aug. 30, along with a collective batting average of .275 with runners in scoring position, chances are 2003 will be eerily similar to 2002, and the Reinsdorf Rules will have no lasting effect.

RedPinStripes
08-30-2002, 02:19 AM
They are so lost when it comes to knowing how they want to run a team.