Since he took over as White Sox chairman in 1981, Jerry Reinsdorf has operated by one simple rule of thumb -- make sure the money going out matches the money coming in.
Through times lean, boom and in between over the past 30 years, Reinsdorf has rarely, if ever, strayed from the business plan.
But as he approaches his 75th birthday on Feb. 25, Reinsdorf found himself in the valley of indecision when the calendar flipped to December.
Should the Sox "go all in" this season? Or, should they shed salary and go young?
"There was a lot of debate, deliberation," said Sox general manager Kenny Williams. "I can't tell you how many conversations we had, but I obviously like the plan he chose."
Speaking Saturday at SoxFest, Reinsdorf said he didn't make up his mind to stick with a veteran club until Dec. 1. Two days later the Sox signed Adam Dunn to a four-year, %56 million contract. Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Jesse Crain and Will Ohman soon followed.
"Last year was a difficult year," Reinsdorf said of the White Sox' 88-74 record, which left them 6 games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. "We weren't as good as we thought we could be. Our attendance (2.2 million) was down. Financially, it came out OK.
"Thinking about this year, we had to make a decision for the long term: Were we better off to try to get better, or were we better off to use this as a rebuilding year? That's the thing that took us a long time to make up our minds."
Once Reinsdorf decided to add instead of subtract, the White Sox' payroll swelled to $125 million. Last season it was $103 million.
No wonder Williams and radio broadcaster Ed Farmer, among others, were urging fans to buy tickets at SoxFest this weekend.
"It was a tough call because we've really taken a chance and stuck our necks out," Reinsdorf said. "If this team bombs and we draw 2.2 million people next year, we are going to lose a lot of money. So we are betting that we are going to be good."
Are the White Sox going to be good enough to get it done this season? Reinsdorf offered his veteran opinion.
"The biggest difference on this club this year is we're going to catch the ball better than we've ever caught it," the chairman said. "That's what made the Twins so great. They never had a great bunch of players on paper. They always played the game right.
"It was always hard for me to hate the Twins because they had great people, their ownership, they always had players who played the game the way it's supposed to be played. I think this team is going to be that type of team."
If they're not, look for next year's White Sox team to be a much younger bunch.