Samson Gives Context On Reinsdorf's Advice

"It was really an anti-tanking conversation," Samson says.

Mully & Haugh Show
October 08, 2019 - 11:21 am

(670 The Score) Former Marlins president David Samson on Tuesday doubled down on and also provided more context to his recent comments that White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf once advised him to "finish in second place every single year" because it will impress an organization's fans but also leave them wanting more.

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Appearing on the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score, Samson explained that the comments were made in an anti-tanking context before tanking become an accepted and often-praised organization strategy in MLB. Samson indicated that Reinsdorf made the comments after the White Sox had finished in second place four years in a row and around the time Samson broke into baseball. That would put the timeline after the 1999 season, as the White Sox finished second in their division from 1996-'99.

The comments led to enough fan backlash that the White Sox released a statement on behalf of Reinsdorf. Samson strongly stood by his story, which Reinsdorf didn't directly deny but did say he "has absolutely no recollection of" while also adding that's "not his philosophy" for how to operate a team.

Samson added "it was not said in jest" and, "I don't find it to be a bad story."

"He was not saying, 'Don't win,'" said Samson, who considers Reinsdorf a mentor. "Let me be clear. Ideally, you are always in it. Now of course, when you're finishing in second place, there's a chance that a good streak, you finish in first place and you make the playoffs or in second place as a wild-card team. That was always inherit in the conversation. It was really an anti-tanking conversation before the concept of tanking was something we ever talked about as a word and as a concept. That's how I looked at it. And looking back, that's exactly how I think about it. It was, 'Hey, if things hit right and you are competing and finishing in second place, you have a chance.'

"Here's the thing: Tanking only became a thing after I got into baseball. I always thought it was a great plan to keep trying and to never to be really bad and keep looking like and hoping that you can make it and win a division or become a wild card. And only later, really when the Astros started it and lost 100 games three years in a row -- and even then, I didn't agree with that plan, because it was brutal when the Astros were losing all those games. It's hard for any owner to take that. So I don't see anything wrong with what he told me. But the fact is, when he told me, the White Sox had finished in second place four years in a row right before he told me that. So I get why that was in his head.

"Here's why fans in Chicago shouldn't think anything bad about Jerry at all: It's not easy -- not just in his division but baseball in general -- you have to look at revenue. You can't expect him to lose money running a team. You shouldn't have to lose money running a team. And when he is building the White Sox and trying to win, you also have to be realistic. He has not done anything in my opinion that would make him a bad owner or a cheap owner at all. I know that is not the respect. I have nothing but respect for him. Now, the story is the story and the story is real and here's why I was disappointed that he said he didn't recall it. I guess that's not a denial of it. I don't recall what I did yesterday, so I get that. But from a strategic standpoint, that was the thing to do back then. I don't think he would say that now, which he agreed he doesn't say that now."

Samson made his original comment on the Le Batard and Friends "Mystery Crate" podcast in late September.

"I was 32 years old, in baseball for my first of 18 years," Samson said, as transcribed by Yahoo Sports. "And (Reinsdorf) said, ‘You know what, here’s my best advice to you: finish in second place every single year because your fans will say ‘Wow, we’ve got a shot, we’re in it,’ but there’s always the carrot left. There’s always one more step to take.'"

Samson also addressed criticism from White Sox television analyst Steve Stone, who wrote on Twitter that Samson had the "respect of very few people in the game" and only had his job because of nepotism.

"I also know who pays his paycheck and keeps his lights, so I recognize what he has to do," Samson said of Stone. "So there's an agenda. Anyone associated with the team -- even many people in my position in the media have an agenda -- I just say it how it is unfiltered. It's just business to me. It's really nothing personal at all."