Sports Illustrated took issue with former NBA superstar Michael Jordan and his attempt to play Major League Baseball.
Jordan was on the cover of the magazine again — but in a far different light. The headline read, “Bag It Michael! Jordan and the White Sox are Embarrassing Baseball.”
From that day on, Jordan, who was always very cooperative with Sports Illustrated, never spoke to the publication again. His biggest objection to the story was that they never talked with him as part of it.
During the 2020 documentary “The Last Dance” the writer of the story, Steve Wulf, said that after Jordan showed some potential and a sincere desire to play the game, he wrote another piece, in apology — but the magazine never published it.
That article would have been appropriate to publish. While Jordan struggled at Double-A with a .202/.290/.266 slash, he made strides in the Arizona Fall League, upping his average to .252 and earning praise from scouts. As Jordan was penciled in for Triple-A Nashville in 1995, the biggest knock on MJ was that, at 32, he was having to make up for too much lost time away from baseball.
In March 1995, a White Sox demand that Jordan cross the picket line to participate in replacement games during the MLBPA strike forced his retirement from baseball and return to the NBA.
After the White Sox failed to even attempt to keep him with an $18.4 million qualifying offer, Carlos Rodón signed a two-year, $44 million deal with the San Francisco Giants.
Rodón was coming off of a tremendous, 5.1 WAR season with the White Sox, pushing himself into Cy Young favorite status before running out of gas and being sidelined for a month late in the White Sox’s 2021 playoff season. After providing some $20-plus million in surplus value on his $3 million deal for 2021, the White Sox could have looked at merely offering the QO as house money — but a combination of foolhardy overconfidence in his thin rotation depth and sheer frugality prevented Rick Hahn from extending any offer.
(While Rodón’s agent, Scott Boras, insisted the QO would have been rejected, the fact that the southpaw had to settle for “just” $22 million with a player option for 2023 — relative pennies to upend his entire life and relationships in Chicago — would indicate that Rodón would have stayed with the White Sox in 2022.
The decision blew up in the White Sox’s faces, as the wildly-disappointing, 81-81 team could certainly have used the stellar 5.2 WAR Rodón pitched to in 2022.