It’s never a good idea to take the public utterances of a baseball executive — or any executive, really, or a politician, or… just about anybody with an agenda — at face value, so I don’t know if it’s healthy to read too much into comments from White Sox G.M. Rick Hahn about his conversations with ownership as ticket sales were spiking in the wake of their splashy additions of Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Adam LaRoche, etc. But holy hell, whereas in this city we get executives paying hollow, sycophantic lip service to the supposed benevolence of the Corporation whenever the idea of raising the budget is broached, did the Chicago White Sox ever just demonstrate — or claim to — a dynamic between ownership and ballclub that actually works.
Or at the very least an owner that actually gets it, as opposed to one that just pretends to get it and treats fans like a bunch of rubes who won’t see through the transparent facade.
“The ATM was empty and the White Sox offseason spending spree was over,” explains the Chicago Tribune. “That was the message general manager Rick Hahn delivered last Thursday at the winter meetings in San Diego, capping a nice winter renovation.” But apparently things quickly changed:
“Hahn said ‘the response we’ve received from Sox fans so far this year, in response to our moves’ led to a ticket sales increase that convinced Reinsdorf to go for it.
“‘As we sit here today, we’re beyond where we expected to go in terms of 2015 payroll,’ Hahn said. ‘And that is a direct result of Jerry saying he saw a fit, he understood what we wanted to do, and in the end gave us the flexibility to convert on the deal.'”
“I know that as of our conversations Saturday afternoon with Jerry, he felt good about the sales numbers we had been receiving all offseason. I think the last week there’s certainly been a significant uptick, given our activity (in San Diego),” Hahn adds. “But really, throughout this entire offseason, we’ve felt and seen in our fans a level of excitement and optimism that’s helped me us feel more confident about what we can handle from a payroll standpoint.”
I’d supect that there are White Sox fans who’d find it pretty amusing to see Reinsdorf held up as a model owner. But here we are.
Of course, I think that, given the history, Jays fans can be forgiven for not rushing out and throwing down their money on tickets the way that White Sox fans did, and maybe the takeaway here is that it’s on fans to drive spending and not ownership at all.
But no. It’s not The takeaway is that it must be seriously fucking nice having an owner who is responsive to team needs, and that understands the huge importance of spending dollars at the top of the budget threshold to add the kinds of pieces that can take a team projected to win 86-89 games to the crucial 90+ win projection mark and beyond. Yes, he wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t tied to ticket sales, but still. Cute as it is to be able to say that your club has a “top ten payroll,” or whatever it is, it’s the dollars that get spent to push the boundaries of what’s possible that usually end up being hugely important. Good on the White Sox for seeing it.
Image via the internet