CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Reinsdorf enjoys title talk

Reinsdorf enjoys title talk

CHICAGO -- On the eve of the most important playoff series during Jerry Reinsdorf's 25-year ownership reign, the White Sox chairman took a 10-minute meeting with the media Friday to clear up a long perpetuated myth.

The story goes that Reinsdorf views baseball as a passion more than a profession and he would give up all six championships won as the man in charge of the Chicago Bulls in exchange for one title with his White Sox. It was a story even repeated by manager Ozzie Guillen this past weekend in Anaheim.

But Reinsdorf brought a little more clarity to this particular tale during the White Sox workout, presenting the underlying story beneath his commentary.

"I should have never made that statement," Reinsdorf said. "The reason I made that statement at that time was that the Sox weren't doing particularly well, the Bulls were on top of the world and people were sending me letters saying I was not paying enough attention to the White Sox.

"They said, 'You are spending too much time on the Bulls.' I figured one way to put it to rest was to make a stupid statement like that. So, I did, and now it has been haunting me."

These ghosts of statements past could disappear for Reinsdorf during the next week, as the White Sox battle for their first World Series championship since 1917. If the South Siders were to pull off the ultimate victory, the Bulls' double three-peat in the '90s would temporarily be put on the back burner.

The culture of baseball is more a way of life for not just Reinsdorf but also White Sox vice chairman Eddie Einhorn. Reinsdorf explained Friday that baseball was a religion for him and his neighborhood as a youngster in Brooklyn, "a unifying force holding everyone together."

That religion doesn't exist at any level of sports in this day and age, according to Reinsdorf. Kids simply grow up with so many more things to do and so many more options.

For Einhorn, who also spoke to the media Friday, the NCAA Tournament might be the best overall sporting event but baseball is the best sport. So, when this tandem of Northwestern Law School graduates had finished their main careers at the young stage of their early 40s, joining together in a baseball venture seemed to be a logical next step.

"And here, 25 years later, we can say we are in the World Series," Einhorn said with a smile. "I'm still a little surprised as it rolls off my tongue.

"I've been the vice chairman, which means I don't take all the guff. Jerry has had to take all the stuff over the years, and the guy who takes the hit should get all the credit and the praise. I stay out of his way and let him get a little action here, which I know he likes."

But fame can be fleeting, according to Einhorn.

"He also knows it will go away in six months, because that's the way it is," said Einhorn with a laugh.

Of course, success for the White Sox could not be discussed without a comparison to the Cubs and whether the balance of power will shift to the South Side after a World Series championship. Einhorn pointed out that whether the Cubs win or lose has very little to do with the White Sox, and the White Sox have to get the job done on their own "like every team in a two-team market has to do."

Reinsdorf readily admitted that he hasn't thought about the Cubs for a long time and took solace in the fact his team will be playing in the last games of the 2005 season. Reinsdorf also seemed genuinely moved by the congratulatory messages coming from close friends and people he hasn't heard from in a long time, numbering well over 100.

If it wasn't for e-mail, Reinsdorf added, he would never have been able to respond to everyone.

"What amazes me the most is how all of my friends and acquaintances realize how much this means to me," Reinsdorf said. "I knew what it meant to me, but it's amazing how many have called and sincerely wished us good luck and been nice with their well wishes."

"He is one of the most genuine people I've ever met in my entire life," said White Sox center fielder Aaron Rowand of Reinsdorf. "He cares more about this organization and this city then anybody else I've ever met. He wants to bring a winner to the South Side of Chicago. He would give anything for it. He's very passionate about what he does and this team."

When asked about his team's opposition from Houston, Reinsdorf quickly pointed out that the Astros are very much like the White Sox. Though neither team possesses a downright fearful offense, each relies on outstanding pitching and plays the game with great intelligence.

There also was one more basketball reference from Reinsdorf, who is trying to join William Davidson and Jack Kent Cooke as the only owners to win championships in two sports. Whereas a basketball team can succeed under the superstardom of one individual -- see Michael Jordan and six Bulls' titles as an example -- baseball is the ultimate team sport.

The White Sox have won 106 total games this season without a superstar, after Frank Thomas went down with his second ankle injury. Now, they are four victories away from Reinsdorf trading in six NBA titles for Major League Baseball glory.

"Look, it's like which one of your children do you like better," said Reinsdorf, comparing the Bulls and White Sox once again. "Baseball was a religion since I was a child. It's bigger than basketball.

"I always knew baseball was bigger. I just never realized it's a multiple of baseball. The attention, the excitement, the feeling in the city. It's different, much, much bigger.

"But I sure wouldn't trade six [Bulls' titles] for one," added Reinsdorf, before pausing and adding with a smile.

"Maybe one for one."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}