Dear Mr. Reinsdorf,
I know you say to call you “Jerry,” but that seems inappropriate in this instance.
First off, I want to express my extreme thanks to you and Ken Williams for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Chicago White Sox organization. The two decades I have been with the team, with the last eight years as general manager, have been a tremendous learning experience.
Being made senior vice-president seemed to be a considerable honor, a chance to take charge and form a team the organization and the city of Chicago could be proud of. There have been admitted missteps along the way, especially in drafting and putting together a minor league player development operation, but I think, and hope you think, that most of my actions have been for the better.
However, I now see that, as John Nance Garner put it, “Being vice president isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit.” He was referring to vice presidency of the United States, not the White Sox, but apparently the principle still applies.
Your decision to hire Tony La Russa as manager, despite strenuous objections and the overwhelming amount of baggage and discord Mr. La Russa will bring to the job, has given me no choice but to seek a new path. I did as you ordered at the announcement and pretended it was a joint decision, but it was only moments later I realized I could not continue the charade and maintain any self-respect at all.
Immediately after the announcement I did the socially responsible thing and went to the men’s room to wash my hands. That naturally put me in front of a mirror above the sink, and I could not bring myself to raise my face above sink level. I literally could not look myself in the mirror. And then, when I inadvertently glanced up for a second, I seemed to see through to the stalls behind me — it was probably a mirage that I no longer existed, but I believe it was a mirage with a message.
I understand that at your age it is comforting to be surrounded by the old and familiar, and wish you the best in your remaining years. However, “you’ll never really be allowed to make major decisions until he dies” is not a good work ethic, so I feel I must move on.
Yes, I know you hinted if we went along with your need for companionship in your dotage you might be inclined to allow a team in the No. 3 market to no longer have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, but it was far from a pledge, so I know we can’t count on that. It may not even be an issue, since I already have heard from many agents that I need not bother to bid on their free agent players, or to try to trade for those in a position to refuse a given trade. Of course, our current players cannot very well comment negatively, but a few of their agents have let me know they’d be open to a trade to just about anywhere. So you may be able to reduce payroll, as is always your desire.
I hope it is timely that I just was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year, which I have added to my resume sent to the the 29 other teams, the organization in Portland hoping to land a major league team, and to McDonald’s, which I understand is always looking for general managers. Perhaps one of them will have at least a mid-level position, one where I will have more autonomy than I have working for you.
If you will provide me with a good recommendation, I will promise not to report to the commissioner’s office that we hired Mr. La Russa without carrying out any proper search that included minority applicants, in violation of the Selig rule, unless they directly ask me. Given the weakness of the current commissioner, it’s doubtful any penalty would be more than a small slap on the wrist, anyway.
Please do not ask me to change my mind. I not only cannot face myself, I can’t face my family or friends, and, by far the most of all, the players. They are a happy and cohesive group, and I know that we have let them down horribly by bringing in a manager with the negative and divisive history of Mr. La Russa. They are also going to be grievously disappointed to find that the White Sox are now going to be all about him and that they will be merely pawns in the game.
I know Mr. La Russa said the right things at the announcement about his past attitudes toward race and immigration and even particular players, but he is a lawyer, and knows when to cover up his true feelings with lawyer-speak. There is a reason the saying about old dogs and new tricks exists, and that particular old dog is highly unlikely to have really changed his stances.
I have several weeks of vacation time coming, so please accept that in lieu of notice. I believe my pension paperwork is in order, but I’ll check with HR to make sure that’s the case. I’ll clean out my office immediately after completing this letter.
Again, thank you very much for the opportunities you offered to me, and best of luck to you in reuniting with your old friend.