A View From the Cheap Seats

March 5, 2008

The Winner of our (undeserved) discontent

Filed under: Random Poop,Sports — trzupek @ 8:52 am


By Gerry Trzupek

Regular readers of this column may recall that Rich is honeymooning these next few weeks and has handed over the keys to the keyboard.  You may also remember that Rich’s recent revelation in this very paper; the fact that he is bipolar, which I’m pretty sure means that depending on whether he went to the Artic or Antarctic he either took his husband or wife along.

And so as not to feel left out – to all non-regular readers: allow me to suggest more fiber in your diets. So, in order to fairly choose a topic to write about, the traditional web poll route seemed apropos.  In order to save y’all a few clicks, and since I would skew results I didn’t like anyway, I made up the results as well as the poll.  In spirited pretend voting, here in reverse order are the results:

4) Column on upcoming primaries, in haiku (zero votes)

3) Column on global warming zealots, in limerick form (zero votes)

2) Column on evangelical atheist Rob Sherman (one vote; apparently he’s so addicted to publicity he’s even figured out how to weasel into my imaginary polls) – and the winner,

1) Use the tired old “Open letter to a famous person” format (three votes; this is why I had kids).

In lieu of any superdelagates, I must allow the masses to speak and therefore I give you my “Open Letter to Jerry Reinsdorf.”

Dear Mr. Reinsdorf:

I’d wish you a happy off-season; but I’m not sure you get much of an off-season as an owner.  Plus, running two teams kind of defeats the idea of an “off-season” anyway.

I’d like to tell you about a bartender at a neighborhood bar.  In a bar richer with nicknames than an Our Gang comedy, he goes by “Brother Ivan,” usually “Bro” or “Ivan” for short.

He looks (and is) far more Irish than Eastern European, but drinks go a long way to define a person here on the south side, and Ivan swills down quite a few Black Russians.

What’s more, Ivan takes it upon himself to run quite a few betting pools.  Large, season-long pools that participants are in for hundreds of bucks, or simple $10 pools on the upcoming Bears game.  Seems he always has some scheme going on, regardless of sport, and there’s usually a new twist going on to keep things interesting.

In the end it means a lot of extra work for him – keeping track of numerous sporting events, who paid how much, what the spread was in a given paper on game day and so on.   He does this all without taking a cut.  Granted, a good number of people will toss back a few bucks his way when they win.  But it’s far from being a given.

So, Mr. Chairman, why should you care about Ivan?  Because on a small scale, you two do have a lot of similarities.  You both provide people with an awful lot of diversionary entertainment, giving us something to cheer for when we want a little temporary escape from the daily routine.  You may make some money out of it, but there’s got to be better and less volatile means to earn a buck.  Ivan has three jobs himself, one of which is a Chicago Fireman, so there is certainly a lot of drive – he’s not, nor could he, run these pools as a ‘get rich quick’ scam.  He’s just doing something he likes and entertaining us along the way.

You get a lot more hassle than praise in this city.  I’ve been guilty of it myself at the old ballpark; wearing t-shirts and hanging banners that decried contempt for you (and that silly Einhorn whom has thankfully since been pretty removed from public interaction).  But when my girlfriend of the time wrote you a (non-public) scathing letter, you in response sent us tickets and invited us and two guests to dinner at Comiskey Park’s inner sanctum.  And you came by and were as gracious as could be.  It was almost two decades ago, but better late than never: thank you.

Following Bill Veeck is not an enviable position for anyone.  Few owners in history have been as beloved. You are hassled as ‘cheap’ – yet the Sox payroll is one of the highest in baseball, and that in a “large market city” that has to deal with a media- and celebrity-darling team taking the lion’s share of available profits.  You get hassled for misplaced loyalties – but it speaks volumes on your values that you’ll back a beleaguered employee rather than coldly cut and run in a ruthless attempt to succeed.  We should all be as lucky to work for a boss like you.

I was going to complain that it wouldn’t hurt to take a lesson from Ivan and give out a few more free drinks; but in all fairness Ivan hasn’t brought a World Series trophy to the Southside.  And those half-dozen golden basketballs weren’t too bad either.  For all of it, we Chicagoans do appreciate it – even if it doesn’t show too often.


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