- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- In honor of the 2005 World Series championship club, Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf made a rare appearance on the dais at the team's annual SoxFest on Friday night.
Reinsdorf admitted that he rarely does these types of public speaking engagements because he is bound to say something he regrets.
It is uncertain if he had any regrets when speaking about the crosstown Chicago Cubs, but he did fire off a memorable zinger toward the National League team to the north.
“I sincerely hope the Cubs do win the World Series --” Reinsdorf said with a straight face, setting off a murmur through the crowd of White Sox fans, "after I die.”
The group, which also came to hear thoughts from executive vice president Kenny Williams, as well as 2005 teammates Geoff Blum, Bobby Jenks and Joe Crede, erupted in cheers. Reinsdorf's jab came less than a week after Cubs owner Tom Ricketts took a shot at attendance issues on the South Side during his team's annual convention.
Otherwise Friday, Reinsdorf was the voice of reason. With fans excited for the approaching season after a winter during which the White Sox added so many proven veterans to the roster, Reinsdorf offered caution.
“I think I was the most excited going into spring training in 2006 because here we had played in the World Series and then added Jim Thome; I really had visions of back-to-back,” Reinsdorf told the crowd. “It’s a funny game. You have to play the games. Not too many people here are old enough to remember 1983, but we won 99 games in 1983 and the only thing we did in the offseason was to add Tom Seaver to the pitching staff. Then we won 74 games. So you can’t get too excited before you play the games.”
Before the games start, though, excitement is all fans have. The optimism has been stoked by additions such as Jeff Samardzija, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and David Robertson, leading one fan to thank Reinsdorf for the moves.
“Don’t thank me, this is the guy to thank,” Reinsdorf said, pointing to Williams, who works side by side with general manager Rick Hahn. “I set a budget and say, ‘This is it, this is all the money we have to spend.’ He figures out a way somehow to get me to go over where I wanted to go. And then after we get to that point, he has other lies to tell me to make me go even further, and before it’s all over we’re $25 million above where I said yes.”
With a payroll that appears headed north of $110 million, the White Sox have indeed gone above their original spending plan, although perhaps not as high as $25 million over. But as the buzz at SoxFest has shown, the fans are appreciative.
Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf used his team's annual fan fest to take a shot at the World Series drought that's stricken the rival Cubs.