Whenever Jerry Reinsdorf speaks, White Sox fans are going to listen

“The important thing to fans is, while they want you to win championships, they want to know that when they get down to the last month of the season, you still have a shot,” Reinsdorf said.

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White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf recently spoke on a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. The topic was “Game Changers: The New Business of Sports.”

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t talk publicly like he used to, so when he gets in front of a microphone, people listen. Sox fans listened with interest Monday when he spoke on a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. The topic was “Game Changers: The New Business of Sports.”

Some highlights:

“If you think that you know more than your GM or head coach, then you’ve got the wrong GM,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and have faith. But you can’t make the decisions for your baseball people. . . . You’ve got to let them make the decisions.”

For the most part, Reinsdorf allows his baseball people to do their jobs, but it’s no secret he brought back Tony La Russa, who was not general manager Rick Hahn’s choice, to manage the team before the 2021 season.

“I think the important thing to fans is, while they want you to win championships, they want to know that when they get down to the last month of the season, you still have a shot,” Reinsdorf said. “You’re still playing meaningful games. If you can do that consistently, you’ll make your fans happy.”

Fans have not been happy seeing the Sox make the postseason three times since they won the World Series in 2005. And many recall July 31, 1997, when Reinsdorf oversaw the “White Flag Trade” that sent three veteran pitchers to the Giants for six minor-league players. The Sox were 3½ games behind Cleveland for the American League Central lead.

“My approach has been I never really cared about making any money; I just want to win,” Reinsdorf said. “Now that’s not what I wanted to do in business. . . . The first week I was in sports, somebody said to me, ‘If you listen to the fans, you’ll soon be sitting with the fans.’ ’’

The Sox, Athletics and Royals are the only teams without a $100 million player contract, although in 2022, the Sox’ $203 million payroll ranked seventh in baseball, according to Spotrac. They cut payroll to $182 million (13th) this season.

Multiple owners, led by free-spending Mets owner Steven Cohen, care little or nothing about financial losses when it comes to trying to win.

“Sometimes I sit in ownership meetings, and I think, ‘How in the world could these guys have made money to buy a team?’ ’’ Reinsdorf said.

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