Friday, December 7, 2007

The Original Hiney Bird GM

Let me first say that I don't have much of a problem with Ken Harrelson's broadcasting. He does repeat himself like a parrot and start quarrels with journalists, but he's also one of the most honest broadcasters around. If the Sox really suck, he'll say so. If the other team does something great against the Sox, he'll acknowledge and congratulate them. He's a fan of the White Sox and a fan of the game. I can live with that.

He's a better option than most Fox sportscasters who couldn't tell you the name of the 25th player on either team that was playing. No one can ever accuse Hawk Harrelson of copying anyone. He is truly an original when it comes to announcing.

He's also an original when it comes to general managing. Unfortunately, being original pretty much means that he sucks in a position of authority. His work ethic was questionable at best. You were more likely to find Harrelson on a golf course than in his office.

After a poor start to the 1986 season, he fired manager Tony LaRussa. LaRussa went on to manage World Series championships with Oakland and St. Louis. He fired assistant general manager Dave Dombrowski, who eventually became GM of the Expos. Dave moved on to the Marlins, where they won a World Series in 1997 and the Tigers, where they made a World Series appearance in 2006 against Tony LaRussa's Cardinals.

Hawk's trading was also unique and flawed. He traded away budding superstar Bobby Bonilla to the Pirates for pitcher Jose DeLeon. He traded away Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver to the Red Sox for infielder Steve "Psycho" Lyons. Hawk also traded Indiana native and fan favorite Ron Kittle to the Yankees with Joel Skinner and Wayne Tolleson for Ron Hassey, Carlos Martinez and Bill Linsey.

He picked up quick fix Steve Carlton on August 12, 1986, after the Giants released him. The next day he signed Craig Grebeck, which he always pointed to as a positive when confronted with his less than spectacular moves in 1986. If "Little Hurt" is your best move, you are in trouble.

The damage caused by Hawk's one year as GM, took almost four years to fix. The only highlights in the 1986 season were John Cangelosi's 50 stolen bases and Joe Cowley's no-hitter. I'd have Hawk in the broadcast booth any day, just keep him out of any type of management position with the White Sox.

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