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updated: 6/17/2013 10:25 PM

For White Sox, everything starts and ends with Reinsdorf

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  • Does White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf really believe what he says?

       Does White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf really believe what he says?
    File photo by DANIEL WHITE | Staff Photographer


Losing a series to the pathetic Astros should be enough for White Sox management to understand why the franchise is inching from afterthought to irrelevant to oblivion on the local sports landscape.

One difficulty for observers is trying to figure out whether Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf really believes what he says or says it simply to fool you into believing it.

Take the news release the Sox issued last autumn when Rick Hahn was named general manager and Kenny Williams was demoted up to executive vice president.

Reinsdorf said, "You cannot say enough about Ken Williams' contributions to the Chicago White Sox, his contributions to our success "

Let's stop right there because even Williams is unlikely to say he accomplished enough as Sox general manager from 2001 through 2012.

Reinsdorf presumably is referring to the terrific job Williams did in building the Sox' 2005 World Series champions. He had the best single off-season that any Chicago general manager ever had.

If that indeed is what Reinsdorf meant by Williams' "contributions to our success," no argument here.

Other than that narrow example, however, using the word "success" in relation to anything associated with the Sox in a wider sense would be misleading.

Is Reinsdorf talking about the Sox' two playoff appearances during Williams' 12 years as general manager? Is it the Sox' one World Series championship during the more than three decades since Reinsdorf's group bought the club? Is it the decline in Sox home attendance during each of the past six seasons?

Look, I tend to be hard on both the Sox and the Cubs because I'm a lifelong Chicagoan tired of these two franchises underachieving.

The Cubs aren't even worth talking about now that their latest saviors are preaching patience after the club has gone 105 years without winning a World Series.

The only point to be made about the Cubs today is that without their futility the Sox' one championship in 96 years would be laughable.

Maybe Reinsdorf believes the Sox have been successful because they were bought for about $21 million in 1981 and Forbes estimates their value at $600 million today.

If Reinsdorf's "success" reference meant anything else, well, that might explain the baffling lack of urgency in making major changes in an attempt to win championships and customers.

For too long the Sox were deaf to their fans wanting, among other things, the game experience to be less expensive. For too long the Sox were blind to the minor leagues failing to contribute enough to the parent club.

Seriously, the tolerance level on the South Side has been maddening.

A change finally was made, but Hahn will have to prove that he is different from Williams, whom he worked with the past decade.

This isn't a matter of whether Williams is letting Hahn be the general manager. It's a matter of whether either of them or anyone else on the South Side has any idea how to establish sustainable success.

Everything goes back to the chairman. It's Reinsdorf's team. He establishes the parameters, environment and agenda in which the moves are made.

So if you believe the Sox have been good enough the past 32 years under Reinsdorf, you'll believe they have been successful the past 12 under Williams and will be the next decade under Hahn.

If not, you have to be frustrated by what's happening, or not happening, on the South Side.

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