In the meantime Reinsdorf will suffer the barbs of the pundits in the media. "I can't believe what they write about him," says Alex Spanos, the owner of the San Diego Chargers. "I've known Jerry 30 years, and he's the most decent, humble individual I've ever known. I call him all the time and tell him, 'Don't let it worry you. Your friends will always know you for the way you are.' "
So what things has this scrappy, misunderstood, fair-minded man found the serenity to accept as unchangeable, as immutable as time and tide—just as it says in that prayer he carries in his wallet? Reinsdorf answers without missing a beat: "Financial insanity in baseball. I've given up. I've capitulated."
"Wanting to be six feet tall."
Right. Anything else?
"The unaccountability of the media."
You see, he likes this stuff. He eggs people on. "He is amused how the media portray him," says Stan Kasten, the president of both the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Braves. "Jerry is portrayed as having other owners, and their votes, in his pocket, and we laugh about it because the guy has none of that influence. No one follows him because he's Jerry. Not in baseball or basketball. I'm his biggest fan, and I'm telling you that."
"There have been two fallacies about [Reinsdorf repeated in print] in the last three years," says Giles, a fellow member of baseball's executive council. "One is his power. He doesn't have that much power. He hasn't won too many big votes on the executive council. He didn't want to make the labor deal, and we made it anyway. The other fallacy is all this stuff about his influence on [acting baseball commissioner] Bud Selig. It's untrue."
Still, it was Reinsdorf who was portrayed in the press as the puppeteer pulling Selig's strings throughout the strike. He was the most outspoken of the owners, the man the players' association focused on as the enemy working behind the scenes. Reinsdorf's disdain for the fourth estate is understandable, and he keeps a file of media distortions and fabrications, which he frequently updates and happily retrieves on request. There was the time, for example, he was watching ESPN at home with Martyl, his wife of 40 years and mother of his four children, when an anchorman informed viewers that at that very moment Reinsdorf and Fehr were meeting to discuss a resolution of the baseball strike. Reinsdorf turned to his wife and asked, "Do you have Fehr stashed in a closet somewhere?"
Alternately wry, self-deprecating and combative, Reinsdorf has an edgy sense of humor that he employs either to disarm or enrage his adversaries, depending on his mood and purpose. He is a needler of both friend and foe.