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Column: Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf dons blinders as the Chicago White Sox season sinks into the abyss

Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf stood by the home dugout with a lit cigar in hand before Monday night’s 5-1 victory against the New York Yankees, brazenly violating the stadium’s no-smoking ordinance as he spoke with friends.

A small group of reporters followed Reinsdorf to see if he would discuss the dumpster fire his team has become, knowing full well his policy of not speaking to the media.

“Got a second?” I asked.

“No,” Reinsdorf harrumphed as he walked past without glancing up.

No one harrumphs quite like “The Chairman,” who has had plenty of practice the last two years thanks to underachieving performances by the Sox and Bulls.

These are trying times for Reinsdorf, executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn, the triumvirate in charge of a team that has begun to resemble Wile E. Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons. The Sox are falling off a cliff, with a few sticks of dynamite strapped onto their backs, and into a vat of quicksand.

They long ago fell out of contention, but going down without a peep would not be the White Sox way.

On Monday they dealt with multiple controversies, including Tim Anderson’s six-game suspension for fighting with the Cleveland Guardians’ José Ramírez; former reliever Keynan Middleton’s claims that the Sox clubhouse had “no rules” and that a rookie pitcher had slept in the bullpen; and a WSCR-AM 670 report that Yasmani Grandal and Anderson had a physical altercation last month over Grandal’s alleged desire to leave the team early for the All-Star break.

Anderson wasn’t talking. Hahn said Middleton’s claims were erroneous and violated clubhouse etiquette. And Grandal denied The Score’s report about the alleged incident with Anderson.

Among the Big Three executives, only Hahn showed any accountability, admitting to cultural issues in the clubhouse that he said were addressed in part by moves at the trade deadline.

But the bigger issue in the minds of many Sox fans is why Hahn is still around trying to fix problems he helped create with his personnel moves. I asked Hahn on Monday if he understood why so many Sox fans want him removed.

“Absolutely,” he replied.

So what would he say to them?

“I would say I absolutely get that,” he said. “That’s the nature of pro sports. The fact of the matter is I probably wasn’t as smart as everyone thought I was when I was winning Executive of the Year a couple years ago … and the odds are I’m probably not as stupid as people think I am now.

“But this is the nature of the beast and the nature of pro sports. Look, at the end of the day whether I’m here or not is going to come down to any of (either) Jerry Reinsdorf or Kenny WIlliams or myself feeling I’m not the right guy going forward.”

Would Hahn consider stepping down?

He began by saying, “We’ll …,” but quickly zigzagged.

“Again, we’re trying to beat the Yankees tonight,” he said. “Let’s see what happens over the next few weeks.”

If Hahn’s future is in doubt, that means Pedro Grifol’s expiration date as Sox manager also could be up after his first season. Williams probably has a job for life as long as he continues to cuddle up to Reinsdorf, who apparently doesn’t hold him accountable for the downfall of a franchise that seemed poised for years of success only two summers ago.

The piling on by Middleton, a journeyman reliever who revived his career on the South Side before being dealt to the Yankees last week, surprised Grifol and Hahn, who said the pitcher recently apologized to them for his own “unprofessional behavior.”

Hahn said Middleton “was held accountable for certain rule violations, let’s say, and for him to be pointing a finger that that wasn’t happening, I was frankly confused by it.”

Middleton told ESPN and the New York Daily News there were “no rules” on the Sox, throwing his former manager and coaching staff under the bus.

“You have rookies sleeping in the bullpen during the game,” he said. “You have guys missing meetings. You have guys missing (pitchers fielding practice) and there’s no consequences for any of this stuff.”

Hahn’s initial response was to pull out the old chestnut about the sanctity of the clubhouse.

“Frankly, the first rule of a clubhouse is ‘What goes on in a clubhouse is supposed to stay there,’” Hahn said. “I’m a big believer in that tenet. However, when an individual player casts aspersions and puts his name on it, I feel a responsibility to respond.”

In a long-winded answer, Hahn said he gave a position player with sleeping problems permission to sleep in the clubhouse. Some veterans complained, but Hahn said they were appeased by his explanation and the thoughts of health experts.

“Perhaps that’s something that got lost in translation in Keynan’s (claims),” Hahn said. “But at no point have we had a player sleeping in the bullpen.”

Hahn admitted there was a problem with Sox players pulling together but suggested those players are now gone.

“We’re a work in progress,” he said. “We had a problem, we’ve addressed a good portion of it and we’ve got to continue to do it.”

Among the veteran leaders dealt were Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman, Lucas Giolito and Middleton. Lynn, a noted “clubhouse lawyer,” corroborated Middleton’s claims on A.J. Pierzynski’s podcast.

Grandal, who barely has spoken with the media since 2021, called a news conference Monday in which he denied The Score’s report that he slapped Anderson. He also defended Grifol and the Sox staff against Middleton’s claims.

“I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure (Middleton) had the chance to speak up and (he) didn’t or had the chance to make things right here,” Grandal said. “So the fact that they didn’t do it, to me it shows a lot.”

Middleton said Monday he stood by his comments.

“I said what I said and I really, truly feel that with my heart,” he said, adding he didn’t “feel comfortable” addressing it when he was a Sox player.

Did Middleton breach player etiquette by talking about clubhouse issues to the media, as Hahn and Grifol suggested?

“If that’s how they feel, then that’s how they feel,” he said. “I was speaking my truth. I said what I saw. I wasn’t trying to tear anyone down. I was just addressing the issue.”

Grifol told reporters he held a team meeting Saturday in Cleveland to address several issues that he declined to detail.

“We’re moving forward with a new foundation laid on rock — not on muck, on rock — that is going to sustain any little problem that we may have moving forward,” he said. “So culture is a big deal to me. I think it’s the most important part of a winning franchise, and we’re determined to build it and build it the right way.”

Whether all the muck was removed at the trade deadline remains to be seen. Forty-eight games remained after Monday, and for Reinsdorf, Williams, Hahn and Grifol, more pockets of turbulence can be expected in a mucked-up season that just won’t quit.


Source: Berkshire mont

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