June 9, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf (right) talks with catcher A.J. Pierzynski (left) before the game against the Oakland Athletics at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Why did the White Sox memorialize A.J. so intensely?


That the White Sox would come rushing out to praise the tenure of A.J. Pierzynski registered as more or less the most inevitable thing ever. “Took him long enough,” is something I might have said as Jerry Reinsdorf’s official statement came rolling down the hill.

(A.J. responded in kind with a newspaper ad that he may well have had already written up years ago)

But Craig Calcaterra said he’d never “seen a team wax so effusive of a departing player as the White Sox just waxed about A.J. Pierzynski”, and Tim Baffoe of The Score made sure let people know he thought the Sox treatment of the situation was “weird”. Apparently, from outside the White Sox bubble, this outpouring came off as a bit much.

First and foremost, it more or less mirrors the response that Mark Buehrle’s departure received last year. There might not have been an immediate official statement, but there was an outpouring, and it was loving and tender.

“He’s not a Hall of Fame pitcher by any means, but he’s a real pro. He took the ball every single time and battled, was great in the clubhouse, caught first pitches, made appearances, was a great guy. He was perfect for our team.”

-Jerry Reinsdorf to ESPN on 12/9/11

“I just told the Marlins’ ownership, ‘You got one hell of a pitcher, but let me tell you, you got a better person,’” said Williams of his brief talk with Loria. “You have a humble person. You have a person that no matter how much money or success he’s had over the years, he is still the first person out to catch the first pitch from a fan.

“From there, I expounded as to his virtues, and not only his but his wife’s. They are good people. You don’t completely replace good people. He will always be a part of the White Sox family.”

-Kenny Williams

That’s pretty touchy-feely, but also for a better player that was longer-tenured. It’s not a true equivalency, but reflective of the fact that the Reinsdorf has been much more open about displaying his personal affection toward players and other members of the organization since the World Series title. Kenny Williams too.

The World Series title that also brought about the incident where the best player in franchise history left in a huff because he felt that not enough fanfare was given to end of his tenure. That ended in the GM calling said greatest player in franchise history an “idiot”, before airing out his exhaustion at the star treatment that the player had received, and even implying that he had money problems. Frank Thomas eventually returned to the franchise as a smile-laden ambassador, but it would take a little while.

Thomas was the last long-tenured player that didn’t come up under a Williams/Hahn regime that the franchise had to deal with the departure with, but with that memory still in place, it seems perfectly prudent to get out ahead of any feelings of abandonment departing veterans might have. Even if it’s a littler over the top.

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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Tags: A.J. Pierzynski Chicago White Sox Jerry Reinsdorf Mark Buehrle