Jim O’Donnell: Reinsdorf, Theo Epstein and Richard III — the South Side meteor shower is a good one


WHEN THE ONE GREAT SCORER comes to mark against Jerry Reinsdorf’s name, the spirit of the Chicago sports mogul should have one great regret.

That will be that newspapers didn’t run daily profit/loss statements on his operations rather than conventional W-L standings during a long run as a critical master of The Captive Sports City.

In 42 MLB seasons, his White Sox have floundered on the field much more often than they have flourished.

At the start of 38 NBA campaigns, his Bulls tipped off with Michael Jordan in frequently muddled ascent

Phil Jackson, primarily, finally provided basketball clarity. Six championships later, Reinsdorf committed the greatest amoral sin in the history of Chicago sports when he generated “The Curse of the Breakup.” All else since has been careening karmic coda.

AS A SPORTS CAPITALIST, no one can dispute that Reinsdorf has been a phenomenal success.

He made a lot of dough. So have his investors.

But as a sports ops decision-maker, Reinsdorf has been a bust.

He represents a spooky, cynical anti-fan. One that is partially rooted in Walter O’Malley’s Brooklyn and partially in Dante’s “Inferno.”

THE MAN GIVES OLIGARCHS a bad name. Whatever his private proclivities for friendship, loyalty and charity, as a sports owner, he has been an implosive king — Richard III without the rebellions.



In 80 operational seasons with the Sox and Bulls — taking out the extraordinary six owned by Jordan — Reinsdorf has won one championship.

That’s 1-for-74 — 1.3%, a grand devil’s number.

NOW COMES THE QUESTION OF WHETHER the White Sox are for sale.

For months, most informed responses have been an unequivocal “yes.”

A critical tell will be regarding who is named “the singular voice” to succeed the departing “Doom Duo” of one-trick Kenny Williams and Babbitt belching Rick Hahn.

If it’s current assistant GM Chris Getz, they might as well hang “Franchise For Sale” signs atop all 35th Street ramps on the Dan Ryan.

Getz is a bookmark. As the future of brains at Guaranteed Rot, his elevation would be like hearing that Bridgeport Democrats have found a grandnephew of Mike Bilandic to be their new leader.

THE THOUGHT OF THEO EPSTEIN SWOOPING IN on gossamer wings to assume control of the White Sox is the tingle du jour for local baseball fans. And it should be.



He’s only 49 years old. He’s managing a shrewd hang time after his miracles at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. They still leave the light on for him every night at Cooperstown.

But at what price Theo?

HIS NO. 1 GOAL AT MLB MANGER NO. 3 should be ownership. Finding investors is a no-brainer. Finding investors who will put up a premium for “Theo’s Diamond Brain” is a bit more challenging.

Presumptively, the Epstein agenda must include the managing chairmanship of any new partnership. If he’s going to squeeze the new lemon — and he will — that also means getting maximum ownership stake for the least possible amount of his own money.

His goal at start should be zero dollars. If the White Sox are worth $2 billion, his design should call for 30% — or $600 million — for his presence, expertise and high probability of quick, rational success.

Investors immediately take a hit on their dollars. But what will their shares be worth in five or seven years? And what about the immeasurable “vanity factor?”

Also consider: What will the highest player-salary package in MLB be entering the 2026 season? Does that figure make $600 million for the prime-time smarts of Theo Epstein seem excessive?

Epstein on the South Side would even make it respectable to be a White Sox fan again.

AS FOR JERRY REINSDORF, he deserves all appropriate “kujos” — thank you Mr. Jordan — for the good he has crafted during his 42 years on the Chicago sportscape.

But those fan shackles have gotten so rusty and rotten.

He has sucked so much innocence and joy out of being a rabid rooter of the White Sox and the Bulls.

AT THE BRIDGE, HERR JER’ will have his family, his friends and his investors.

Plus his impressive profit/loss statements and his 2005 World Series ring.

His first conversation on The Other Side with Walter O’Malley and Richard III is certain to be lively — and likely far too simpatico.

• Jim O’Donnell’s Sports and Media column appears each week on Sunday and Thursday. Reach him at All communications may be considered for publication.



Related Articles

Leave a Reply

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

Back to top button