By George Ofman-
(WBBM) The very first column I wrote on this site was the value of a general manager.
Never discount it.
He’s the man in charge of putting the pieces in place for the manager to manage and the coach to coach. Right now in our town, two GMs are under fire, one must fess up and the other owns cloud nine. Stan Bowman is stockpiling talent for a team that just won the Stanley Cup. This is where I say the rich get richer. If you want to throw bouquets in the direction of the Blackhawks boss, stand in line. Two days after one of the most picture perfect parades and rallies (Grant Park looked like a postcard you wanted to send to anyone, anywhere), Bowman was drafting a local kid, trading the guy who scored the game-winning goal in Game 6, dealing his best penalty killer, saving over $5.5 million and spending some of that on keeping the popular, bruising Bryan Bickell. If he wants to hang a shingle with the word genius on his office door, fine with me. Bowman is in a great place.
Gar Forman is in a somewhat tenuous place. If he’s not reprising the role of Jerry Krause with a slightly better disposition, he’s firing Tom Thibodeau’s friend and confidant. GMs aren’t supposed to fire assistant coaches, but hold your double dribbles: The Blackhawks cashiered one of Quenneville’s guys last year. It happens. It just looks a little smarmier in Deerfield where tension is like the morning dew and idea of winning an NBA title next season persists. Forman believes the return of the mysterious Derrick Rose and yet another revamped bench will put his team in position to hang another banner at the United Center. If this happens, LeBron James will go from being the king to a pauper. Delete this thought because it won’t happen no matter how good Rose might be. This is not the musings of a pessimist, just the strong feelings of a realist.
This brings me to Rick Hahn, the very affable, over-educated and perhaps overwhelmed general manager of the sagging White Sox. Considering the Tigers are teetering and the Indians just launched him into baseball depression, Hahn has to figure out how to unravel the mess on the South Side. A defense that was No. 1 a year ago has become a sieve. Baserunning gaffs occur more often than fireworks after a home run. Hahn must become a seller for a team in the cellar. But will he be competing with his counterparts? I know Jed Hoyer is the Cubs general manager but I swear his head is attached to Theo Epstein’s. Either way, the North Side’s dynamic duo is so open for business they might be willing to do a garage sale. Hoyer/Epstein, or is that Epstein/Hoyer, is foaming at the mouth as the trading deadline approaches. July 31st might as well be December 25th at Clark and Addison where the brain trust continues the gut rehab of the team. Tom Ricketts would also like to do a gut rehab of Wrigley field, but I digress. Everything the Cubs and Sox do from here on out will be measured by what is done off the field. Change is necessary when it comes to baseball here and it should be reflected in neon lights. It’s what Dale Tallon did years ago when a terrible Blackhawks franchise was transformed into one of the best in all of sports.
The pressure is once again on the general managers. But isn’t it always?