Commentary

The buzz from Turnberry? The Hawks

Busy day in Chicago a hot topic across the pond

Originally Published: July 15, 2009
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

[+] EnlargeDale Tallon
Dave Sandford/NHLI/Getty ImagesDale Tallon made some mistakes, but he also put together a team that reached the Western Conference finals.
TURNBERRY, Scotland -- It isn't every day that you're at a Bruce Springsteen concert in Glasgow, standing six seats away from George Lopez, watching The Boss, his shirt drenched in sweat, knock out a killer version of "Incident on 57th Street," and yet, strangely, finding yourself talking to someone about … the Chicago Blackhawks?

You can take the sports writer out of Chicago, but you can't take Chicago out of the sports writer. I leave the country for a few days to cover El Tigre here at the British Open, and all sports hell breaks loose.

The Hawks eighty-six Dale Tallon as general manager and reassign him to "senior adviser, hockey ops" because -- well, I'm not exactly sure why they pink-slipped him.

The Cubs might file for bankruptcy, which is weird because I was just at Wrigley this past Friday for the St. Louis Cardinals game and, as usual, the place was packed to the ivy.

The Bulls write another take-a-hike severance check to Tim Thomas. If I believed in reincarnation, I would want to come back as Tim Thomas. People keep handing him money not to play.

The White Sox face an important decision: keep Clayton Richard in the starting rotation or replace him with another Sox left-hander -- President Barack Obama. Like Richard, though, Sox management has concerns over Obama's release point, control and velocity.

Meanwhile, here at Turnberry, the closest thing to actual news is that former British Open winner Sandy Lyle called 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie a cheater. Then he apologized and said in a statement, "Colin Montgomerie and I are not at WAR!"

OK, that's not bad, but it doesn't compare to what's happening back home.

First, the Hawks, whose decision to relieve Tallon of his GM duties is both odd and, when you think about it, not entirely unexpected. I'm a neo-puckhead, so take it for what it's worth, but I'm not completely buying what Hawks ownership and upper management are selling.

Tallon made his share of mistakes (spending huge money on two goalies, the qualifying-offers fiasco on his watch), but someone put this Hawks roster together -- a roster of good guys and good hockey players who reached the Western Conference finals. And that someone was Tallon, the same Tallon whose team made an unannounced side trip to Gravenhurst, Ontario, in November for the wake of the GM's father.

The botched qualifying offers were embarrassing but shouldn't have been fatal. Tallon took the blame and fell on the organ-I-zation's hockey stick, but he's not the guy who bought the postage for the late-arriving paperwork, was he? And this stuff about how Tallon is almost too old for the job? Tallon is 58, not 108.

[+] EnlargeTim Thomas
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesIt would be nice to be Tim Thomas, who is getting paid -- again -- not to play for the Bulls.
Anyway, the whole thing sounds a little too fabricated, as if this decision were made long ago. Just say you wanted to hire your own guy -- in this case, Scotty Bowman's son, Stan -- and let it go at that.

As for the Cubs, I don't know where to start. Actually, I do: Win at least three of four games at Washington against the MLB-worst Nationals and two of three at Philly. The Cubs, who begin the second half 3½ games behind the Cards, need to start leveling out their 16-25 road record. A four-game series against the Nationals should help.

Meanwhile, the Cards have three against Arizona, three at Houston, one at Washington and three at Philly. If the Cubs don't take advantage of the Nationals, and the Cardinals start to expand their NL Central lead, don't be surprised if Wrigley starts to feel a little emptier during the next homestand.

Bankruptcy is one thing, but booting the legendary Yosh Kawano out of Wrigley is unforgivable.

Kawano, 88, spent nearly seven decades with the franchise. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the former clubhouse manager, whose rumpled floppy hat made an appearance in the Baseball Hall of Fame, was escorted off the premises about two weeks ago when the team was on a road trip. Kawano was trying to visit members of the Wrigley grounds crew.

Someone needs to give a history lesson to the security guards responsible for Kawano's removal. Take them to the Cubs' clubhouse, the one named for Kawano.

Speaking of getting escorted off the premises, Tim Thomas is a former Bull again. He's the only player who comes with his own PayPal account. The team negotiated a buyout of his $6.46 million deal.

Well, at least we know President Obama isn't spending a lot of time working on his fastball. But at least give him credit for staying true to his South Side allegiances.

If I were the Sox, I'd have that Obama All-Star appearance on Chicago billboards as soon as possible. The slogan: "The Most Powerful Man In The World Wears Sox Gear. Why Not You?"

And now, back to my regularly scheduled British Open.

Gene Wojciechowski is a senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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