You can call Jerry Reinsdorf a lot of things, but disloyal is certainly the last descriptor anyone would place upon the White Sox owner. Hell, John Paxson had to fire himself for the Chicago Bulls to make changes in their front office. Change did come, however, for the White Sox this offseason when the team fired Ricky Renteria and replaced him with former manager Tony La Russa. In the midst of that change, pitching coach Don Cooper also found himself without a job.
Cooper had been with the team for 32 years. He spent the last 18 seasons as the team’s pitching coach. In that span, Cooper worked under four different managers. In the sports industry, it is truly rare for an assistant coach to stay with a franchise when a new head coach comes along. For one assistant to survive four different managers is something out of a science fiction novel.
However, that is where the 65-year-old now-former pitching coach found himself. Looking at how these things generally go and how they turned out for Cooper, one would imagine Cooper would appreciate the loyalty Jerry Reinsdorf and company showed him through his tenure. Well, the world found out the opposite was true when Cooper joined The Parkins & Spiegel Show on 670 The Score Thursday.
Perhaps there is more beneath the surface than we are aware of. However, based on how incredibly of a long leash Cooper was granted by Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams, and Rick Hahn over the years, to say they didn’t respect him seems unlikely. This both tastes and smells of sour grapes. Leaving any job can be difficult, but 18 years is a very long time. Even the best of the best rarely last that long.
Based on Cooper’s words, it seems like the White Sox wanted to completely change their philosophy on coaching and Cooper simply didn’t fit the bill.
Here’s the thing: This happens in sports all the time. This happens every few years. There is always change. There should always be innovation. You cannot keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. That is what the White Sox have always done. That appears to have stopped based on Cooper’s firing.
Truth be told, the White Sox probably should have moved on from Cooper years ago. Sometime a few years back, the “COOOOP” chants on the South Side seemed to turn into “BOOOOs.” Change was necessary. Sure, you don’t make it that long in this game if you don’t know a lot about your craft, but at some point the innovation passes you by if you don’t adapt. Cooper should be thankful the team was a decade behind on the adaptation train.
It wasn’t all sour grapes from Cooper however, as he was thankful for his time on the South Side.
Cooper was certainly lucky. When Ozzie Guillen was shown the door a decade ago and Cooper hung around, he had all the luck in the world. He should be thankful and grateful. However, when the quotes above are attached with comments of being thankful and grateful, those gratitudes start to lose their meaning.
For the White Sox though, this should be seen as a positive. When Jerry Reinsdorf’s 76-year-old buddy was hired to be the manager of the White Sox one more time, fans freaked out. That was just “Jerry being Jerry.” However, with Ethan Katz on staff and other young, innovative minds now surrounding La Russa, it appears real change is coming to 35th and Shields. Unfortunately for the man they called “Coop,” that change did not include him.