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“How is Jerry Reinsdorf a loser? Let me count the ways”

Aug 15, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT

Reinsdorf, chairman of MLB team Chicago White Sox and NBA basketball team Chicago Bulls, smiles as he participates at the 2010 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills

That’s the opener to Murray Chass’ excellent analysis of yesterday’s commissioner vote. An analysis which should be the blueprint for how one approaches issues relating to baseball’s owners and the game’s governance.

Chass takes issues — MAJOR issue — with the narrative which holds that Jerry Reinsdorf’s propping up of Tom Werner as a protest candidate in the commissioner race was somehow a “success.” He does so my noting just how awful and corrosive a force Reinsdorf has been for the game of baseball in his more than three-decades at the helm of the White Sox. And how his Werner gambit was a cynical little cherry on top of that crap sundae. But it was a failed gambit and, Chass argues, Reinsdorf’s final act of consequence in the game as a power broker.

Along the way Chass provides an excellent tick-tock of yesterday’s vote, talking about who voted for and against Manfred and why and how the situation developed. It’s must-reading if you’re interested in all of this.

And it is no surprise that it came from Murray Chass. While he has his issues as a baseball analyst — and while he and I have our many differences, occasionally on a personal level — there is no one better when it comes to talking about the dynamics of leadership in Major League Baseball and the issues which surround it. Chass has had the Lords of the Realm’s number for nearly 40 years and rarely is he wrong about their motivations. Unlike so many others who write on the topic, he has both institutional knowledge of baseball’s power structure and, given how baseball’s leaders have behaved for the past century or so, the good sense not to be reverent of these men or to give them the benefit of the doubt they have never, ever earned. There’s a tendency among many to treat people of high station otherwise. I’m glad Chass doesn’t.

Anyway, a great read. Go check it out.

  1. Bob Loblaw - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Any article that begins by calling a Billionaire with championships in multiple sports a “loser” doesn’t sound like it is worth reading.

    • supersnappy - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      Good point, although one could be a winner in one aspect of life, but still be a loser overall. It is a good read about an aspect of the sport we fans don’t usually get to see.

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        Look, if you want to call him a bad guy, or a jerk, or a fool for some of the decisions he has made, then I’m all for it. He broke up the Bulls Dynasty when they easily could have won 2 or 3 more titles in a row in the last 90’s. But to call the guy a flat-out loser is just stupid and terrible use of the word.

        Jerry Reinsdorf is a great many things. Loser is DEFINITELY not one of them.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Did Chass check Reinsdorf for bacne?

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:29 AM


        Many “losers” win a lot in life because they don’t win with class. They are mean, subversive and not nice.

        Just because his teams won (and it was MJ and not him – no MJ and no titles) doesn’t make him a nice person, a good person or a winner.

        Even “losers” in life will win things here and there.

        Reinsdorf is a loser in many respects as far as a person is concerned.

        Loser in how he deals with and treats people.

        He was no Bill Veeck, that’s for sure.

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        Well, it appears me and the HBT commenters have quite different definitions of the word “loser”. Oh well. To each his own. If he’s a loser, then I’ll be that kind of loser every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Bad guy? Yeah. Dick? Yeah. Made some awful decisions? Most definitely.

        A “loser”? In my humble opinion, absolutely not. To me a loser is someone who, well, is a loser. A mush. A guy who loses at just about everything they do. A guy who owns two professional sports teams and has won championships with both, in my opinion, simply can not in any way shape or form be generally called a “loser”.

        Too many people on here are equating “bad guy” with “loser”. They are two completely different things.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        Either you’re reading too much into “loser,” or I’m not reading enough into it. To be honest I’m not 100% certain, but I only read “loser” in the sense that he has tried to be a baseball power broker and lost in that realm repeatedly, from the 1980’s owners’ collusion, to the 1994 strike after trying to force a salary cap, to the attempt to block Manfred from becoming commissioner.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      Because it’s impossible for someone to win at some things in the past, but lose at other things in the present?

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        If he is a loser then he’s is the kind of loser I would love to be. 6 NBA titles and a World Series Championship. Yeah, woe is he. Like I said…is he a dick? Yeah. has he lost at some things in his life? Sure. But he isn’t a loser. Far from it.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:07 PM


        He’s a loser at life.

        I’m talking about winning and losing at life.

        With the way you’re approaching it, only rich people win at life and all poor people lose at life.

        That’s not the case. Fine, Reinsdorf has money and has won some titles…

        He’s LOST at life, he’s a loser at life and that’s because he is, in your words, a dick.

        There are a lot of good, decent, hard working people who are never millionaires, who don’t own businesses and who don’t win Super Bowls and World Series titles.

        Some owners have class and are winners, whether their teams win the last game of the year or not.

        Some owners are losers and have no class, even if their team does win the last game of the year.

        A person is defined by MUCH MORE than whether they simply win a World Series.

        Also, it was Michael Jordan primarily who won those titles. Not Jerry Reinsdorf.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:09 PM


        Put it this way. I’m betting that Lebron is going to win a title in Cleveland within the next couple of seasons with the Cavs. That will have ZERO to do with Dan Gilbert.

        Lebron went back because it was HOME. Dan Gilbert is beyond lucky (read NOT a winner, but a loser and he’ll be a loser even when the Cavs win a title) that Lebron was from around there.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      I believe the gist of the article is the Jerry has always been a dick, happy to cut off his own nose (or, in this case scuttle the profitability of his franchise) to spite his face (the players). He took it far enough in this case that he apparently lost a good deal of his political influence in the inner-circle of baseball ownership.

      So, while his teams have won some championships, and while he has amassed wealth, he is still kind of a jerk and, within his current circle of operation, a loser.

      As to whether championships permanently indemnify an owner against being a loser, I have two words: Jeff Loria.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        Let’s not forget Charles Comiskey

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        Hello, let’s not forget Jake Ruppert, a racist now in the HOF.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        Also, Marge Schott

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      It’s not an article, it’s a blog by noted blogger Murray Chass.

    • skerney - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      Too bad. It’s a fascinating article that I enjoyed reading.

  2. pete2112 - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    And he eats a lot of cookies according to anonymous sources.

  3. [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    A few years ago, Attanasio publicly called for a cap on payrolls and was believed to have been told by Selig, whose franchise he had bought, to knock off that kind of talk

    Whoa, never would have expected that from Selig.

    • natstowngreg - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      Seems an indication of Bud learning from the past, and working by consensus. He wasn’t going to get the consensus among owners to both curb spending AND share revenues.

      The NFL’s salary cap works because the rich teams share revenues with the poor teams. [It helps that the NFL’s TV money comes almost entirely from national contracts, so it’s easier to share.] However, implementing the cap involved breaking the NFL players’ union, after two work stoppages. Something Bud, Reinsdorf & Co. were unable to do.

  4. rollinghighwayblues - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    In that picture it looks like Reinsdorf has the head of Curt Schilling but the hands of a ball girl.

  5. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    I was fully expecting the Orioles/Nationals dispute to take center stage during these meetings, and to have a big effect on the vote. It doesn’t seem to have been an issue however. I’m also surprised Oakland didn’t make a bigger stink, considering the way Bud has left them hanging with their crappy stadium. I guess in the end, the owners decided they didn’t want another fight with the players union and wanted to continue labor peace above all else. Baseball isn’t dying, but a major drag down fight with the players union resulting in a needless strike would be a very major blow, and the owners are wise to continue their current path of prosperity and labor peace.

  6. mybrunoblog - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    He has no thumb.

  7. thebadguyswon - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Reinsdorf has fingers that look like breakfast sausages.

  8. nottinghamforest13 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    If Murray Chass says something, it’s gotta be true.

    • thebadguyswon - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:32 AM


    • raysfan1 - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      I doubt there is anyone who knows the inner workings of MLB and MLBPA leadership better than him. This is the one area where he is one of the best sources.

  9. chip56 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Red Sox triumvirate of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino to ignore that they owed their presence in baseball and their 13-year ownership in Boston to Selig.

    This is something that doesn’t get brought up nearly enough when talking about Selig’s “Legacy.”

    To get Henry, Werner and Lucchino in place Selig had MLB buy the Expos so that Loria – who destroyed baseball in Montreal – could buy the Marlins freeing up John Henry to buy the Red Sox below market value from the Yawkeys. When the Attorney General of Massachusetts threatened to investigate the sale of the Red Sox and MLB’s part in excluding other offers MLB made a generous donation to his charity and the investigation went away.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      But installing Henry in Boston has actually been great for Red Sox fans and (I would argue) for baseball in general. And baseball in Washington has also been a success. Loria has been a disaster for Miami in a lot of ways; I’m not going to defend it. So I’d say that history has vindicated this maneuvering.

      • chip56 - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        Henry has worked out very well for Boston, but allowing the man who ruined a franchise and a city to then hit the reset button and do the same thing in Florida was wrong and then forcing Harrington and the Yawkey Trust to sell to one particular group when there were better offers on the table is also wrong and (IMO) an abuse of power by his office just to make his friends happy.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        I’m with Chip. Other owners might have been better for the Sawks, but never got a chance to show it.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        I won’t shed a tear for the Yawkey Trust, but the rest of Chip’s points are valid.

    • gloccamorra - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      You left out the point that John Henry’s bid was not the top bid. That all-borrowed-money bid came from Frank McCourt, who somehow was later allowed to buy the Dodgers for no money down. Is it a conspiracy if you believe the two bids were connected?

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 16, 2014 at 12:51 AM

        Wouldn’t surprise me if McCourt was given an informal “you’re next” from Bud.

  10. chip56 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    I’ve said it before – I don’t care who the commissioner is or how hard line they want to be with the players; there won’t be a salary cap in baseball and there shouldn’t be. It is not the fault of the players that Arte Moreno (one of those who voted with Reinsdorff) spent tons of money on bad contracts for Weaver, Pujols and Hamilton. If you don’t want to spend that kind of money, don’t spend it – but limiting the value a player can put on himself or the amount that another team can spend just because you want to pocket a greater percentage of the revenue your team generates is not a good reason for the kind of labor war they were proposing.

    • geejon - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      A salary cap would by definition allow some owners to pocket a greater pct of revenue but the lack of a salary floor right now is allowing some owners to do that very thing. I mean, Cano is making almost as much as the whole Marlins and Astros squads.

      What if the cap wasn’t anything insanely restrictive … say $190 million. Basically that’s a meaningless number to 90% of the teams who’d never get close to it. But it at least gives that handful of teams a number that when reached they can no longer buy their way out of a problem/mistake. Then put the floor at something like $90 million. I think there’s like 9 teams presently below that (including huge markets like the Mets and Cubs). No more fielding dud teams on extra low payrolls while at the same time pocketing revenue sharing.

      Does a $190 mil cap/$90 mil floor sound “fair” to you? It’s high enough that it’s not going to really limit what a player can make on the free agent market while at the same time telling those few teams that might otherwise exceed it “if you can’t field a winner with $190 mil too bad”. The floor is also at a number where it eliminates “tanking” but it’s not so high that it’ll cause any teams to “go under”. No more $40 mil payrolls and if you can’t spend $90 mil to field a 25+ player team you shouldn’t be owning one anyway.

      • chip56 - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        I would be a huge advocate of a salary floor but just as players won’t go for a cap the owners won’t go for a floor.

        I think the system that’s in place now is fine. Spend whatever you want but understand that there are penalties in place for spending more than a certain amount.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Agreed on a salary floor. Loria dicking over Miami-Dade Cty for taxpayer money for a stadium while pleading poverty, and actually being far from it, is Example A.

        That said, no, $90M is too high for the floor unless there’s more sharing of local teevee revenue. Let’s say $50M, which is still more than the cheapest teams are spending today.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        But it at least gives that handful of teams a number that when reached they can no longer buy their way out of a problem/mistake.

        Why is this a problem though? So what if teams can “buy” their way out of contracts? As much as people complain about the Yankees, and now the Dodgers, there is a combined one WS win between them in the last 13 years. The Mets, Cubs, Angels, Phillies, and Red Sox all spend a ton of money too.

      • gloccamorra - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        A salary floor won’t work. Even rich teams sometimes have to go the rebuild route, by trading high priced veterans and bringing up prospects making the minimum. A payroll can drop like a rock for a couple years afterward, and no payroll is the same from year to year. A salary floor would force a young team to hand out big salaries to veterans whose roster spots should have gone to prospects or younger, cheaper players.

        The $90 million floor would bankrupt the smallest clubs. Check out the median (half above, half below) household income in various metro areas. The national number is $53,000, but Kansas City’s median is around $47,000, and both Florida clubs are barely over $38,000! Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Milwaukee are not only smaller markets, they’ve been hit harder by the Great Recession and haven’t recovered.

    • mybrunoblog - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      I agree and I’d go one step further. There should be a major league minimum team salary. There’s no reason a team getting 15 or 20 million dollars in luxury tax money gets to bank it. I would say somewhere around $40 million should be the floor. It sickens me to have watched the Marlins and their “fire” sales as they cut payroll to less than $25 million.

      • chip56 - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        Just as teams have to pay a luxury tax for going above a certain threshold I think teams that have payroll below a certain level should have to pay a “poor tax” back to the league that would take their commitment up to whatever that floor is. So for example if the floor is set at $80 million and the Astros 40 man payroll is $60 million they owe the league $20 million.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        Personally, I’m a fan of a rolling five-year cap/floor, allowing teams to spend when they’re ready to contend while backing off during a rebuild. It would be insanely complicated, but it’s a concept I could get behind.

  11. maf586 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    The article titles on hardball are awful. I am an avid reader of pbt and occasionally click on a baseball article. The titles are so flipping stupid

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      Who gives a damn about titles?

    • jwbiii - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Some HBT post titles are misleading. This is not one of them. This one is the lede sentence of the linked blog post and its overall theme, so it is spot on. Did you even read it?

  12. thebadguyswon - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    50 years from now, MLB will still have a commissioner who is a lackey for the owners and a white man. Nothing will ever change with that office. Odds are, Rob Manfred is just Bud Selig Lite.

    • tigersfandan - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      Why did you bring race into this?

      • thebadguyswon - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        Race and gender.

    • mybrunoblog - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      Bud Selig is Jewish. Does that satisfy your minority quota or are you a bigot toward Jews too?

      • thebadguyswon - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        I’m pointing out that the MLB owners want things the same. Men that are white that promote their pro-owner agenda. Get back to me when we have a commish outside that circle.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:28 PM

        David Stern is Jewish and so is Adam Silver…


        Donald Sterling is Jewish…

        So are many owners…

        No need to fret about it though, it’s just a fact.

    • theskinsman - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      Congrats on winning dumbest post of the week. The commissioner is employed by the owners, so odds are you aren’t the sharpest knife in the kitchen.

  13. deftones01 - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    All you Craig-bots hated Murray Chass during Hall of Fame season, but now you’ve all reprogrammed your brain chips to love him now that he wrote an article that almighty Craig approves of.

    • cshearing - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      Or maybe we judge each article on its merits rather than be biased against a certain writer? Nah, can’t be.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        I guess to him it’s not possible for Chass to simultaneously be seen as an idiot for his approach to the HoF and yet still be the one media member with the closest knowledge of the inner workings of the MLB ownership, front office, and the union–in large part thanks to his long friendship with Marvin Miller. Chass is also an insufferable hack for the evidence-free accusation of racism he leveled at Stan Musial, which even Curt Flood and his family refuted (the accusation had to do with an incident at a restaurant Musial had an ownership interest in)…and Chass never retracted or acknowledged the error despite said refuting.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Craig-bots, activate!

      Hey Deftones, I hope you enjoy your IRS audit. You have no idea who you’re messing with.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        You’re not this 18th Street, are you?

      • 18thstreet - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        No, that’s not me. My user name reveals very little about me. I once lived on 18th Street, NW (in DC) but I moved in the year 2000 or so. Never changed the user name.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 16, 2014 at 1:01 AM

        I was joking, of course, but saw that via teh Google and had to post!

  14. [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Does that make us Voltron? Because if so, I call dibs on Lance.

  15. lawson1974 - Aug 15, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Reinsdorf is a rich guy who has won in business and sports, over and over again.

    Losing a commissioner’s vote doesn’t change any if that.

    • sportsfan18 - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:30 PM

      nope, doesn’t change the fact that he’s a loser in life at all…

      spot on Bob

  16. bajamex - Aug 15, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    Chass is garbage when he doesn’t share Craig’s point of view, and is magnificent when he does. Actually it applies to everybody…

  17. binbox1000 - Aug 18, 2014 at 4:29 AM Maybe Chass is the loser?

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