Media unloads on Jerry Reinsdorf for White Sox woes, stadium plans

One of those media members takes a hypocritical stand

The local media was busy lately bashing Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf – that is when they’re not discussing who Justin Fields is following or not following on social media. Now the national media is joining in on the fun.

Sports media website Awful Announcing slammed The Chairman Friday morning with the byline stating Jerry Reinsdorf should “sell the team”. They criticized him on everything from the way the baseball team is run to him asking for $2 billion in public subsidies for a new ballpark in the South Loop and once again flirting with moving the team to another city, such as Nashville, Charlotte, San Antonio, or some other locale.

The latest blow came Thursday, as White Sox telecast producer Christopher Kamka left NBC Sports Chicago for the Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network, as reported by the Sun-Times. Kamka dug up interesting factoids about the team to use in the broadcasts and the popular #SoxMath feature used on telecasts and Twitter when the platform wasn’t owned by a similarly arrogant billionaire from South Africa.

This comes as the future of White Sox telecasts on NBC Sports Chicago is up in the air as the team has yet to announce any plans on where they or the Bulls would end up after this season since their contract with the RSN expires in October. It’s rumored Reinsdorf may launch a new regional sports network with his Silver Chalice Sports, as he bought the stake once owned by Sinclair – and it comes at a time when the RSN model is on the verge of collapse as viewers are moving away from linear TV to streaming (if the White Sox leave town, all of this is moot.)

Awful Announcing wasn’t kind to the White Sox, listing the huge number of gaffes the team made over the years, including Jason Benetti’s departure for the Detroit Tigers and how the new Comiskey Park flopped with fans. The article noted his purchase of the team in 1981 from Bill Veeck and his non-commitment to winning – on par with late Blackhawks owner and United Center partner Bill Wirtz, who blacked out home games on TV and famously quoted on how much fielding a Stanley Cup-winning team would be “too expensive” (the team did make the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992 during his ownership reign.)

An artist’s renderings of what the new White Sox ballpark would look like in the South Loop.

They also noted the lack of success the White Sox had since their 2005 World Series title –  their only one in the modern media era, now reduced to a trivia question most people would get wrong on Jeopardy! Surprisingly, the article did not mention the shooting last August at Guaranteed Rate Field, where the White Sox currently play.

This is not the first time Awful Announcing slammed the White Sox organization. For years, the publication was critical of longtime voice Ken “Hawk” Harrelson for his bizarre calls, even featured at the top of the website’s masthead at one point as the Mount Rushmore of bad sports announcers.

In a Crain’s interview this week, Reinsdorf made the demand to state legislators in Springfield, saying the team can no longer be competitive at its current home. Critics note Reinsdorf pulled the same stunt in the late 1980s when the team threatened to move to St. Petersburg, Fla. to a (then) new state-of-the-art dome. Reinsdorf got his way when the Illinois state legislature passed his benefits package two minutes after midnight on July 1, 1988.

Using public subsidies to build sports facilities is a hot-button topic. Most recently, the Washington Wizards and Capitals announced a plan to leave D.C. for a new arena campus in nearby Alexandria, Va., built with public subsidies from the state, something Republican governor Glenn Youngkin championed as crime in the District was a major issue as it is with Guaranteed Rate Field, located just north of the crime-infested Wentworth Gardens low-rise housing project.

Awful Announcing followed the lead of the local media, who slammed Reinsdorf’s antics this week – notably coming from 670 The Score’s Dan Bernstein and Laurence Holmes, who blasted Reinsdorf Thursday on the Audacy-owned station as reported by…you guessed it, Awful Announcing. But what’s notable about the rant was Bernstein blaming the local media – the one he’s a member of – for this mess.

“It also bothers me too that the media is complicit in this.”, whined Bernstein. “This is what bothers me. The projections about the stadium, these inflated promises, these phony studies that are commissioned by lobbying firms. Bullcrap, they are always bullcrap. Don’t print this, don’t be complicit in the lying. Behind the scenes, there will be a lot of pockets greased.”

Well, what bothers me is Bernstein – the same guy who was instrumental in Comcast SportsNet reporter Aiyanna Crystal’s departure in 2015 and his past antics regarding former Bulls star Derrick Rose, blamed the very same media he earns a paycheck from – a bankrupt company in an industry whose big conglomerates are known for destroying radio, television, and Hollywood with inept management similar to the White Sox. His asinine comments smacks of hypocrisy, a common running theme in Chicago radio – from management to on-air talent – for as long as I’ve been following and writing about this business.

As for this latest stunt by Reinsdorf, he can pull this crap because he’s an 88-year-old white billionaire and has the leverage to ask for $2 billion in subsidies. On the other hand, Chicago’s mostly Black West and South Side neighborhoods – the very part of town he’s abandoning – have lacked financial investment for decades and never had any kind of leverage whatsoever. What’s worse – outside of state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and reservations from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, there’s been no concern so far from our elected officials over Reinsodrf’s demands. Given Mayor Brandon Johnosn’s lack of transparency with the media, no one should be surprised if there’s a backroom deal between him and Reinsdorf over TIF financing. Chicago politicians seem to be hell-bent on rewarding those who don’t deserve anything.

Of course, if the White Sox leave town, it’ll fuel even more narratives over Chicago’s decline with several Fortune 500 companies already departing over various issues from high taxes to crime, taking their jobs and revenue with them.

But with the cost of living up statewide, Illinois politicians would be wise not to cave into his demands for a new ballpark that wouldn’t benefit much of the city or state anyway. If they do, it won’t be the White Sox stampeding for the exits – it’ll be tens of thousands of fed-up and pissed-off residents who feel this is the last straw joining those who already fled Illinois, and the Chicago area in particular.

[Editor’s Note: Christopher Kamka’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story. T Dog Media apologizes for the error.]


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