Back in 1994, Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf was viewed as Public Enemy Number One by fans of the team as they saw him as the man who spearheaded the movement to break the players’ union during a strike that quite possibly cost the Sox a World Series title. The strike took place in August that season and culminated in the cancelation of the World Series for just the second time in history.
The Sox were 67-46 at the time of the strike and were one game ahead of second-place Cleveland. With the likes of Frank Thomas having another MVP-like season, a pitching staff with guys like Jack McDowell, Wilson Alverez, Alex Fernandez, and Jason Bere-all having double-digit wins at the time of the stoppage, and Julio Franco providing power from the DH spot, the Sox were considered one of the favorites to take both the American League pennant and World Series.
But alas, ownership and the players couldn’t come to a labor agreement to save the season. Reinsdorf was viewed as the man manipulating the strings of then-commissioner Bud Selig to knock down the union regardless of the cost, including seeing the team he owns win a title.
Fast forward to today and the White Sox are in a somewhat similar spot as they were in ’94. They have a talented enough team to be in the conversation for a championship, yet labor issues are putting those plans on hold courtesy of an owners’-imposed lockout.
Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is not as involved with this lockout.
However, this time around it doesn’t seem as though Reinsdorf has much if anything to do with what’s going on. At least that’s the thought of a source as told to Chicago sports radio personality Dan Bernstein.
During the transition between the “Bernstein and Rahimi” and “Mully and Haugh” show on WSCR-670AM, Bernstein said he contacted someone he knows to get some insight into a piece he wanted to write for the station’s website regarding Reinsdorf’s position with what’s happening now. Bernstein was surprised by the response he got”
"“I called this person and he said, “Yeah, yeah don’t write that,” Bernstein said. “I said, “Why?”, and he said, “Jerry is as involved in this as you or I.” He said at this point Jerry is a spectator.” In expounding on the point, Bernstein added, “Well, he’s (Jerry) not on the (negotiating) committee. He doesn’t get along with (Rob) Manfred. They’re not friends. His counsel has not been requested, nor has it been offered.”"
Reinsdorf’s unhappiness with Manfred goes back several years when he thought Manfred was not the right man for the job as commissioner since he only served as a labor lawyer to that point. Reinsdorf backed then San Diego Padres owner Tom Werner for the job.
However, Manfred had the backing of several heavily influential owners at the time such as New York Mets Fred Wilpon, Bill DeWitt of the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Yankees Hal Steinbrenner, and Stan Kasten from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"“At age 86, with this team as good as it is, where are your loyalties? Are your loyalties to what you’ve done for ownership and for your side of this industry? Or, are your loyalties to a sport I still think he loves. I think part of him still adores baseball. It’s still meaningful to him and the Sox being good matters to him.”"
Not since October of last year has Reinsdorf spoken on the labor issue when he said the owners produced a “very fair” offer at the time which reportedly included a payroll floor and a lower luxury tax threshold than what was established the previous four years.
"“Arte Moreno (Los Angeles Angels owner) and I were on the labor committee two labor deals ago, and I learned from that, that the other side doesn’t want to get serious until the end.”"
Unfortunately, that end doesn’t seem to be in sight as Manfred announced Tuesday that Opening Day will be canceled following the players’ rejection of a “best and final offer” issued by the owners. In addition, MLB has canceled the first two series of the season for each team, cutting the regular season down from 162 games to a best-case scenario of 156.