Jerry Reinsdorf Dishes On State Of MLB, White Sox Rebuild Process
On the eve of the Intersport Brand Engagement Summit, the White Sox hosted many conference attendees in the Terrace Suite at Guaranteed Rate Field for what ended up being two games against the Royals. Following a walk-off win in Game 1 for the White Sox, Owner Jerry Reinsdorf visited the suite for a Q&A with SBJ’s Abe Madkour.
- On his club’s rebuild: “It’s a process that we've been going through. We decided a few years ago that we didn't like being in the middle. We didn't like being mediocre, and the only way to get good was to get bad. So, we went through that process and I think we're making progress. You know, last year we lost 100 games, which was not a lot of fun. But, we are a better team this year. We'd be even better if we didn't have some injuries. But, we're on our way and I think by next year, we'll be playing meaningful games in September.”
- On how his fan base is handling the rebuild: “White Sox fans are really, really smart. They follow the game, they're into it, and they realize that we're on the right track. They realize that there's a lot of talent already coming here, there's a lot of talent in the minor leagues. They're aware of it. They read about it. They hear about it on talk radio. The mail that I get is consistently saying, ‘Stay the course.’ ... They are (patient) as long as they can see that there's a plan and they can see it.”
- On the state of MLB: “The game is healthy. I think there's some things that can be done maybe to speed up the game a little bit. But I don't think that people really care about how long the game is if it's an exciting game. Now, if it's a 2-1 game and it takes three and a half hours, there's something wrong. But if it's a 10-9 game and it takes three and a half hours, it's exciting, I don't think people complain.”
- On ways to speed up the game: “I like the idea of having the relief pitcher have to pitch to more than one batter. I think that will speed things up. I don't like the idea of it being three batters, right? I hope we settle on two. It's our call. I mean, if the unions left it up to us, we can go to two, we can go to three. I understand two, because it does slow the game down a little bit when you bring in a guy and then you change pitchers for another guy. But, if you make them stay in for three, I think you're fundamentally changing the way the game's been played. Suppose that you bring in a pitcher, he puts one guy on. OK, not so bad he has to face another guy. But, if he's put two on, right? A manager should not have to leave him in. The pitch clock is okay. There's no reason when there's nobody on base for a pitcher not to be able to pitch in 20 seconds. I think it's more problematic if there are men on base. You have to give the pitcher time to think and to gather himself. But, when nobody's on base, you don't need more than 20 seconds."
- On how the profile of MLB owners has changed: “When I first got into it, it was just a bunch of baseball guys. It was guys like Calvin Griffith who had spent their whole lives in baseball. They weren't businessmen. They generated all of their income merely from tickets and concessions. They didn't know anything about television. They certainly didn't know anything about cable television. So that's changed now as the values have gone up and teams are selling for a billion and a half or two billion dollars. You're getting a different type of owner. You're getting somebody who's made a lot of money doing something else and for whatever reason wants to own a team. Instead of lifers, you're getting people who made their careers doing something else, now they're in baseball. So, one of the big differences is that most of the owners, and this is not a knock on them, it's just a result of their backgrounds. They don't really understand like the old guys did how the game is played. They don't understand. You know, most of them don't understand the difference here between a four-seam and a two-seam fastball or defensive positioning -- that sort of thing. But they know an awful lot about the internet, they know an awful lot about cable television, they know an awful lot about how to sell advertising. So, they're just different.
- On MLBers showing personality: “I love it. I mean, that's why the NBA's so popular. The players have personality and they show it and people like that. There's no reason why baseball players shouldn't be able to show their other side and show the excitement. We ask the fans to get excited, why shouldn't the players be excited?”