Keynan Middleton’s claims against White Sox ring true enough to strike chord

Former White Sox reliever Keynan Middleton
(Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

Pedro Grifol said something truer than he intended when he delivered his monthly sermon on the importance of culture and foundation without evidence of either on Monday afternoon.

It’s not in the video that clipped highlights of his conference, but it’s in the story, which I’ve cross-checked against the Sun-Times story and a Chicago Tribune column to make sure a word wasn’t misheard or incorrectly transcribed. They all relay the same Freudian slip.

“We’re moving forward,” Grifol added. “We’re moving forward with a new-laid foundation on rock — not on muck, on rock — that is going to sustain any little problem that we may have.”

Grifol probably meant to say that the foundation would withstand any problem, because the White Sox don’t need Grifol’s help sustaining problems. They’re already experts in that field.

Rick Hahn found himself in yet another hotly anticipated media session, and he rolled up his sleeves to get in the dirt with Keynan Middleton. Since Middleton already breached decorum by not keeping stuff in the clubhouse with his explosive comments to ESPN, Hahn alluded to conduct issues on Middleton’s part, and also tried to paint him as disingenuous:

“[Middleton] sought me out to apologize for his unprofessional behavior, unprofessional behavior that Pedro had called him out on and had an individual meeting with him about,” Hahn said. “Keynan wanted to apologize for it.

“I told him at the time I figured that was a one-off and not something that anyone needed to get into greater detail of … So for a number of reasons — the sanctity of the clubhouse, his own personal experience here, as well as what he expressed to me as his future desires — I was surprised to see the report this morning.”

Hahn did respond specifically to Middleton’s charge of a rookie sleeping in the bullpen…

In a long-winded answer, Hahn said he gave a position player with sleeping problems permission to sleep in the clubhouse. Some veterans complained, but Hahn said they were appeased by his explanation and the thoughts of health experts.

“Perhaps that’s something that got lost in translation in Keynan’s (claims),” Hahn said. “But at no point have we had a player sleeping in the bullpen.”

… and while Paul Sullivan described it as “long-winded” there, it’s important for Hahn to correct the record here, because Middleton’s description really only fit Gregory Santos, and Santos wouldn’t deserve to have his name besmirched for an offense he didn’t commit.

That just assumes Hahn is correct himself, and that’s difficult to know. Jesse Rogers said he corroborated Middleton’s account in his story Sunday night, and Lance Lynn told A.J. Pierzynski on his Foul Territory YouTube show, “I can tell you what Key was wrong about …” and then said nothing.

Setting aside the player-specific offenses of sleeping during the game and missing infield practice, it does seem like Middleton hit on something by saying the White Sox had “no rules.”

In theory, Grifol says he had rules. In practice, he ceded that they might have been too open-ended to resemble a real code, because he emphasized protecting something that may not yet exist.

One was a classic — what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse — that clearly wasn’t heeded by all. Another was about being on time, which is as straightforward as it gets. But beyond that?

“I said as far as rules, anything that happens where you feel like you’re fracturing our culture, that’s a rule — don’t fracture our culture,” he said. “So I kind of left it open. Was it a mistake or not? I’m not sure.”

And maybe this approach would’ve worked if the White Sox were able to establish amongst themselves a stable clubhouse hierarchy, but Hahn described a social order that more or less collapsed.

“You learn a lot about people’s character during times of adversity,” Hahn said. “Unfortunately, we got off to a wretched start and the way the room responded was not the way we had hoped.”

Is that the players’ fault or the manager’s? Or — wait — does the blame lie with Hahn and Kenny Williams, who put the roster together?

“I perhaps overestimated the strength in that room to deal with adversity,” Hahn said.

Alas, this is one of the White Sox’s sustained problems: They’re terrible at estimating. Hahn overestimated the leadership skills and resilience of his players, just like he overestimates his ability to shop in the bargain bin, or underestimates the amount of time prospects need to form MLB-caliber habits, or overestimates a player’s ability to field an unnatural position, or underestimates the severity of way too many injuries. They practically present a fresh case of the planning fallacy every single year.

The White Sox spectacularly fail way more often than they enact meaningful change, and Jerry Reinsdorf makes sure to miss every opportunity to show he cares.

Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf stood by the home dugout with a lit cigar in hand before Monday night’s 5-1 victory against the New York Yankees, brazenly violating the stadium’s no-smoking ordinance as he spoke with friends.

A small group of reporters followed Reinsdorf to see if he would discuss the dumpster fire his team has become, knowing full well his policy of not speaking to the media.

“Got a second?” I asked.

“No,” Reinsdorf harrumphed as he walked past without glancing up.

In this environment, Hahn’s rebuttals really don’t matter. It’s important to make sure an undeserving player doesn’t catch a stray in a crossfire, yes, but when it comes to systemic issues, there’s nothing to defend. The White Sox have spent the last decade struggling to establish a culture because Reinsdorf refuses to move on from executives who’ve proven incapable of doing so. As long as there are no detectable standards for the decision-makers in the front office, it’s going to be a Sisyphean task to implement them downstream. Grifol might not want to lay a foundation in muck, but does he realize he took a job in a swamp?

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Perhaps I’m just angry but I feel like every time Hahn speaks he winds up making things worse. I fear that the Sox recent three-game winning streak means that the front office feels that they’ve been vindicated and things are turning around, but my God, this organization is such a mess. Why would anyone want to play for this team?


He is just taking orders from upstairs. Deny there is a problem and just keep going. It is the Jerry way.


Jerry Reinsdorf’s sustainable development goals are fewer than the UN’s, but quite clear:

-No luxury tax payments
-Zero fan engagement
-Poor HR practices
-Attendance-proof lease deals
-No $100 million contracts
-No leadership
-No accountability


Fat Man with a Cigar:
The untold Story of Jerry Reinsdorf’s failures


He’s not fat.


Fat headed.


I’ll go with big-boned


*Horizontally challenged


I guess my question about the Grifol quote is did he have a mandate to create a club house culture in his image or was he told that just maintain the status quo and defer to the “leaders”? The CST article linked makes it seem like the latter, and if that’s the case, he was put in a position to fail by the FO.

Last edited 1 month ago by BenwithVen

and as someone who’s spent their career teaching every age range from kindergartners to professional adults, leaving the rules and expectations open ended was 100% a mistake.

Last edited 1 month ago by BenwithVen

It might take time to establish a “culture”. It does not take time to establish some “rules”. But Grifol says that one of his “rules” is to not damage the “culture”? You mean the “culture” that isn’t established yet? What the fuck, Pedro? Maybe you’re just not smart enough to be even marginally logical, but thath is a problem. I have said previously that he seems like a nice man, but damn! He needs to go with Rick and Kenny.


I don’t even think he seems particularly “nice”! Definitely comes off as nicer than Bevington, Tony, & Ozzie. But no nicer than Manuel, Ricky or even Robin


TLR called.. He said you’re the mistake… But he said it in all caps.


I’m more astounded that after more than 10 years of the same regime basically, they are
working on culture now….like, think about that and once the overwhelming irony turns to sheer anger, especially since nothing will change, remember “Bats over Legs”. Go Sox lol


I wonder if “culture” just means being able to coexist while trying to achieve goals….and these arrogant jerks cannot manage that.

Trooper Galactus

It’s empty platitudes so they can profess to be doing something that nobody can quantify and anybody who refutes it (like Middleton) is just dismissed with a wave of the hand.


That’s how you know the entire extent of the culture is “Don’t get on Kenny Williams’ bad side.” Get in Kenny’s clique and you will be paid handsomely.

Alfornia Jones

Here’s to hoping Middleton keeps this going, Hahn could not have called him out any harder. Middleton gets the save tonight and center stage post game to light this dumbass up.

How do we stop Grifol from talking about culture, and more about demanding his hitters BB more, HR more, and pitchers BB less? The weakness of the organization continues by living in the intangible ether while not speaking/thinking about true problems.


I mean, if the manager and coaching staff doesn’t have credibility in your eyes, why would you listen to them? All this stuff is connected.

Alfornia Jones

The goal of this FO is to get the fanbase/media talking about meaningless things like culture and chemistry as the reason this has gone sour, which is a good strategy for a FO that has spent money poorly and committed to the wrong players. The Sox are bad because they play baseball poorly, they aren’t losing 90+ games because of culture. So yes I would appreciate these people talking about something meaningful if they speak.

The 90 win 2011 Red Sox that went 7-19 in Sept to finish 3rd had bad culture and poor chemistry.


The shitty culture is contributing to the bad baseball though, so yeah, they are losing games because of it.


They manage to be both bad and difficult to work with. It’s hard to lack everything but they’re trying.


This is the best thing to happen to Hahn.
“Wasn’t my shitty player acquisition or evaluation skills. I merely overestimated leadership skills on these uber talented players. Won’t make that mistake again.”

As Cirensica

Perhaps overestimated

dat gummit

Wouldn’t be a Hahn quote without an unnecessary qualifier to pad the word count. The ones that make me punch air:

  • perhaps
  • potentially
  • ideally
  • ultimately
  • obviously
  • frankly
  • sort of

Frankly, Frank Lee ideally slots in, ultimately, behind our #7 hitter and perhaps, potentially, could project to sort of an obvious candidate for a #6 hitter.


He keeps hiring players that “don’t handle adversity well” but ignores all the adversity his incompetence has created in the first place.


I posted this in the game recap, but it probably belongs here. I know it’s a luittle long-winded, but it sums up Hahn’s tenure:
So, let’s see what happened in Hahn’s tenure.
First, he signs Sale, Q and Eaton to team friendly contracts and sign Jose Abreu with the expectation that they can surround them with enough talent to win. After a few years of failed roster building, the plan falls apart.
Second, he TRADES Sale, Q and Eaton for a boatload of top-100 prospects who will be the core of a long championship window throughout the 2020s. Then they sign Luis Robert to supplement this core, resign Jose Abreu, add a couple of mid-priced free agents, fail to sign Bryce Harper when he was handed to them on a silver platter. Then he signs several of these core players to big contracts long before they have proven anything. Suddenly, several of these core players can’t stay healthy, JR goes over Hahn’s head to sign a dinosaur as manager, they win 2 whole playoff games, the dinosaur becomes extinct, they add the bench coach from a losing organization to replace him, and everything goes off the rails.
Now, he starts trading players who made up this core because they didn’t fit the culture that he was trying to create when he acquired these same players. Then he tells us that they are in a better place.
“The kind of culture we want to create is one that not only has accountability but has people all pulling the same direction, people that are willing to understand we have players from different backgrounds, we have players with different needs, we have players with different strengths and some weaknesses and that we’re all trying to pull the same direction to get the best out of them all, in terms of winning ballgames,” he said. “Anyone who tries to thwart that effort, or makes it more about ‘me’ than the team — meaning the individual, as opposed to the team — doesn’t fit what we’re trying to do.
“Those are the types of players we prioritize in the draft, that’s what we preach during player development, and that will continue to be a focus in player acquisition going forward.”
So, he is blaming the players that HE acquired to be part of a championship core as being the problem. When will JR come to his senses and realize that the players are not the problem, but Hahn is the problem. Does he even care? If what has transpired over the last few days isn’t enough to bring about drastic changes, then nothing will. If Hahn is still the GM in November, this 3rd rebuild is screwed too. Come on Jerry, just get rid of Hahn. Bring in someone who will change the culture, not the players.


My guess is if you sent to this Rick Hahn, he would dispute line by line what he said in the most lawyer way possibly


The White Sox situation will change when new ownership comes on board and overhauls the front office with competent leadership. The only hope now is that lightning could strikes as it did in 2005.


That is the only way any kind of insurmountable change will happen. As long as a Reinsdorf remains in control… this team will fall further into the abyss.


You nailed it. The estimator skills are lacking. They do overestimate their talent acquisitions, including their draft picks and signings. They do underestimate the competition, their trade partners, how much it takes to sign quality players and how stupid we are to keep watching this train wreck.
Hahn needs a new job but he shouldn’t be an estimator.


Respectfully, I don’t think that Jim nailed it, perhaps for the first time. It would be more direct to simply say that they are really bad at their jobs in disparate ways.


I’m sure there is context to everything that’s come out lately, but the fact these distractions are piling up speaks to the overall issues the franchise face. You are absolute spot on about the estimation part. Overestimating, overconfidence and the lack of drive to prove this team is serious about winning have crippled the White Sox. Hahn and Kenny apparently aren’t going anywhere, so I’ve accepted AJ or Ozzie as manager. If we are going full clown show, lets just up the ante and see what happens. Not like any top shelf Managerial candidate is going to want this gig.


Ha! I didn’t think of this. Yeah if it’s status quo, fuck it. Put AJ as manager and see what happens. At least they’ll be entertaining.


As a fan I’m all for Middleton airing dirty laundry. But wrt to sleep and Santos, I think it was wrong for Middleton to get Santos mixed up in this.

Santos has produced, and eccentricities are generally accepted, legitimate or otherwise in baseball provided the players produce. Unless he was really being a bad teammate in other ways, or if he was violent with women … oh wait , why couldnt have Middleton go after Clevinger instead ?

In short, if Santos is only guilty of sleeping, then let them all sleep in the bullpen because they need it (clearly).

Right Size Wrong Shape

Santos wasn’t the one sleeping.

Right Size Wrong Shape

*Edit. See PauliePaulie’s comment below. Someone’s lying…


100%, every reliever should be forced to do whatever Santos has been doing.


Rogers named Santos as the sleeping in the ‘pen guy on ESPN 1000.

As Cirensica

So, Hahn lied because he said the guy with sleeping disorder allowed to sleep in the clubhouse is a non-pitcher.

Last edited 1 month ago by As Cirensica
Trooper Galactus

Yeah, it was telling that Hahn kinda deflected that one.


Maybe he thought Santos was the new second baseman or right fielder?


Anybody can play OF for Hahn.

Augusto Barojas

I take Grifol’s words at face value. When he says the foundation they are laying will sustain any problems they have, I for one believe him. It would be impossible to doubt him.

As Cirensica

The entirety of Hahn’s declaration sounds to bullshit to me.

“[Middleton] sought me out to apologize for his unprofessional behavior, unprofessional behavior that Pedro had called him out on and had an individual meeting with him about,” Hahn said. “Keynan wanted to apologize for it.

That happened before Kenyan’s declaration, and it is quite irrelevant to be honest. It does not deny the clubhouse problem. Hahn is trying to smear a bit Kenyan’s reputation by saying his unprofessional behavior, and by saying so, he committed the same sin he decried Kenyan committed by speaking ‘clubhouse stuff’ out of the clubhouse. Hahn is despicable here.

“You learn a lot about people’s character during times of adversity,” Hahn said.

Here, Hahn admits some dysfunction going on by the way players reacted to adversity.

“I perhaps overestimated the strength in that room to deal with adversity,” Hahn said.

This is typical Hahn. Also, typical of people in a defensive position when they find themselves cornered by their own shit. I perhaps overestimated brings some culpability to himself, but let’s add “perhaps” because he does not want to really admit he made a mistake. Then he accompanies this “act of constriction” by throwing players under the bus with the implied premise that the players weren’t up to the task (didn’t have the strength) to deal with adversity.

Hahn is the worse GM. He knows nothing about baseball. He is incompetent, and what could be worst of all, he is a horrible human being. Can’t wait for him to be gone.

As Cirensica

Also, notice how Hahn expertly morphed “I fucked up” to “we are living in times of adversity” as if this was the byproduct of external forces that conspired with a perfectly laid down plan. He is so full of shit.


The more this goes on the more i kinda feel bad for Pedro. He had no chance as a first time manager.

As Cirensica

Perhaps Hahn overestimated Pedro’s strength to deal with adversity.


You try managing without 3 catchers.


Later reports confirmed that the lit cigar in Jerry’s hand was actually a turd.

To Err is Herrmann

Bacteria also establish a culture.


Loyalty is earned on and backed by trust. I can only imagine the lines Hahn has fed Jerry:

“Actually you’ll be saving money by extending Moncada”
“$11MM is a lot of dead cash, but just wait until you see this new kid Alberto”
“I know we’re bleeding attendance while operating at a loss for the 4th straight year, but the culture we’re creating will be worth its weight in gold”
“You’ll never have to worry about questions being deferred in your direction in a Pedro Grifol press conference”

Given that Middleton’s account can be corroborated–and possibly will be, publicly–I could see the Chairman reevaluating his trust in Hahn.


At this point Jerry is probably just too old to try something new.

Trooper Galactus

Until he does it, I’ll never believe he will.


to paraphrase Sean Connery, losers always whine about dealing with adversity. Winners go home and play patty cake with the prom queen


I would love that to be the cable TV edit in The Rock and in the voice of the person that did the awful “Yippie Ki Yay, Mr. Falcon” censor in Die Hard 2.


I prefer Goodfellas’ “mother fathers!”


Jerry Reinsdorf? Harrumphing? That doesn’t sound like the Jerry we all know and love

All joking aside, I’m glad they found the root of the problem: Hahn “overestimated the strength in that room to deal with adversity.”

Case closed!


Hahn misreading Middleton’s disdain for the Sox culture (as “he wants to return next year!”) smacks of the same complete misjudge of Manny wanting to sign with the Sox and being gobsmacked when he didn’t. Hahn just has no clue how to accurately read and/or connect to players, here or outside of the org.

Trooper Galactus

That tracks with what former players have said about the front office communication.


Yup. Hahn mistakes agent-speak for sincerity. His head is so far up his own MBA ass he doesn’t know what bullshit smells like anymore.


Usually they trot out KW to attack the ex-Sox, so Hahn doing it was a slight change.

Last edited 1 month ago by vince

Should be a long line if Hahn opens up a “guess your weight” booth

Last edited 1 month ago by StockroomSnail

I don’t know that my opinion of Middleton has changed much, but I definitely hate Rick Hahn more now that I know what he said yesterday.


We fans aren’t fools. We can see the owner doesn’t like us. We can see that certain players don’t care. We can see that certain players don’t have MLB talent. Nobody cares about culture if you have players with ability and motivation. Those players win games.