Michael Jordan is expected to receive his official invitation
to spring training from the Chicago White Sox by the end of this
week or early next week.
That's not news to his former Bulls teammates, who heard about
Jordan's baseball plans several months ago. But they heard it a
little differently than most. The talk among the team was that
Jordan had told some he'd already signed a contract.
Not only for spring training. For this season.
And as Jordan's baseball situation comes out bit by bit, from
secret batting-practice sessions to veiled comments from management
and experts in the form of well-placed trial balloons to his facing
live pitching, it has become increasingly clear to those close to
Jordan and Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Bulls and White Sox,
that Jordan will be playing in the major leagues this season.
Oh, sure, the whole episode could come crashing to an end in a
couple of weeks when Jordan heads for spring training, but the
signs are there to many close to the Sox and Bulls that a deal has
been done - although Reinsdorf denies it - because it benefits
Jordan becomes the modern-day Jim Thorpe by going from star
basketball player to major-leaguer - hey, Thorpe couldn't hit the
curve either as his .143 rookie average suggests - and Reinsdorf, a
leader in the marketing and sales boom in pro sports, pulls off the
marketing coup of the century.
You scoff. You say Jordan can't hit major-league pitching at 31
when he barely could hit when he was 15. But the feat is just
coming to bat in the majors, making some contact, getting an
occasional hit. Worse athletes than Jordan have done it - and do
every day in the majors.
Spring-training failures? Hey, who hits a curve in spring
The notion is Jordan wouldn't try anything if he's going to be
embarrassed. Don't bet on it. Because Jordan will. In fact, don't
bet against Jordan except on the golf course.
In 1990, tired of the dunk contest, Jordan decided to try the
3-point shooting contest during All-Star weekend. It was a suicidal
entry. Craig Hodges, who would go on to win three times, wasn't
even the favorite. Three-time winner Larry Bird, one of the
great-long distance shooters ever, was there, as was Mark Price.
Jordan toted in a 24 percent career 3-point shooting percentage.
He'd attempted only 52 3-pointers in five years.
But he took the challenge and came away with the lowest score
in the history of the contest.
Embarrassed? "No, I wasn't," Jordan said immediately after the
And every summer, even after shooting 80s and 90s, Jordan is
out there in those celebrity golf pro-ams way behind the likes of
Look at it this way, as Reinsdorf apparently does: Bo Jackson
couldn't run or play the field. …