Column: Jerry Reinsdorf finally fires Ken Williams and Rick Hahn, but there are still more Chicago White Sox moves to make

Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf made the second-most-popular decision he could make Tuesday in firing executive vice president Ken WIlliams and general manager Rick Hahn.

The only thing better, in the eyes of most White Sox fans, would’ve been for Reinsdorf to announce he was selling the team.

But you can’t have everything in life, and at least, for one moment, Sox fans could rejoice.

It was their victory, after all.

There’s no chance Reinsdorf would’ve fired two of the three men most responsible for the downfall of the franchise (the other being himself) without the nonstop protests of Sox fans who had enough of the losing, the lack of accountability and the series of public relations blunders, from hiring Tony La Russa (Reindorf’s fault) to canceling SoxFest to trading popular third baseman Jake Burger.

But don’t stop now, Jerry. There are more moves to be made.

The marketing department led by Brooks Boyer has been a nightmare as well. Check out the Sox attendance, and the insane obsession with promoting hip-hop and ’90s pop stars for postgame concerts.

The communications department’s biggest contribution to the organization has been a lack of communication. Star players talk when they feel like it. The face of the franchise, Tim Anderson, has been avoiding reporters most of the season. Even prospective lame-duck manager Pedro Grifol often performs his press obligations like he’s forced to, not because he has any real interest in giving fans any insight into his thinking.

Reinsdorf wouldn’t speak to the media, naturally. He’s muted himself since the ’90s, when someone told him he talked too much and only got in trouble for saying what he believed. That’s his prerogative, but it shows a lack of respect for fans who put down their hard-earned money to watch his teams.

“Ultimately the well-worn cliché that professional sports is results-oriented is correct,” Reinsdorf revealed in a statement.

True, but it was also correct last year, when the move should’ve been made following the disastrous 2022 season.

“This led me to the conclusion that the best decision for the organization moving forward is to make a change in our baseball department leadership,” he added.

Well, at least he’s awake.

It’s not shocking Hahn is out. He looked like he was wearing a blindfold and asking for a cigarette at a recent news conference, where he suggested out loud he might not be back. He knew his time was up, and that the “parade” he said would vindicate his plan was not going to happen.

But the firing of Williams, the architect of the 2005 championship, was a pleasant surprise. Williams has been like a son to Reinsdorf and was given carte blanche to do whatever he saw fit, like keeping pitching coach-for-life Don Cooper well past his expiration date. Williams’ most famous line — “Stay out of White Sox business” — was a statement that he was above it all and no one could dare question his decision-making.

Now he’s out of Sox business, better late than never.

Reinsdorf made it clear the search would begin for a “single decision-maker” to lead the baseball operations department, which suggests he’s looking for someone with the gravitas of a Theo Epstein to change the culture and bring some much-needed credibility back to the South Side.

Epstein may have better things to do than save the Sox for the South Side, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Going outside the organization is a must since promoting someone Williams or Hahn hired would result in the same, old problems and the same, old fan resentment.

Scott Harris, the first-year President of the Detroit Tigers who hails from Epstein tree, along with Cubs President Jed Hoyer and several other major league executives, spoke about the need for cultural changes before Tuesday’s game at Comerica Park.

“Culture matters in these organizations,” Harris said. “You work so many hours in these jobs, that if you don’t create an environment that people want to be a part of, the whole organization suffers. Theo was the best I’d ever seen about creating a culture, building camaraderie around the team, and making the Cubs a place you love to come to work.

“Not everything that is valuable is measurable. He taught me that, and taught me building that type of culture can help you put a better baseball team on the field, even if there is no direct relationship between those two things. He lived it in two different places — broke the curses — and those are the type of people you should have.”

Hovering over the hiring process will be the Crain’s Chicago Business report of the Sox looking for a new stadium when their lease at Guaranteed Rate Field ends in six years. The actual ballpark design was one of Reinsdorf’s biggest mistakes, but there is nothing structurally wrong with Sox Park that would force the team to abandon it for a new one.

The leaking of such a move suggests Reinsdorf really wants to sell the team before he dies, even if it means putting the screws to Sox fans by letting some group move it to Nashville. Once he’s gone, he won’t care about his legacy.

The Brooklyn Dodgers crushed him when owner Walter O’Malley up and left for Los Angeles in 1958, but so what? The O’Malley family that profited off the heartless move has never looked back. None of Reinsdorf’s heirs will care about the Sox leaving town as long as the sale provides them with generational wealth.

South Siders have gone through the wringer over the last few weeks, from watching Burger leave to hearing about the clubhouse chemistry issues to listening to rumors about the team fleeing and finally to hearing the news of the end of the Williams-Hahn axis.

No one said it was easy being a Sox fan.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button