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SportsMondayTuesday: Panic Central

Here are a couple thoughts on the Hawks. I'm going to get them out of the way quickly so we can move on to the latest bit of absolute lunacy at Wrigley Field, otherwise known as Panic Central.

The Hawks haven't just lost three of four to the Kings after they dropped Monday night's 5-3 decision; they haven't been close.

But for Jonathan Toews they would have been completely out-classed in Game 3 and last night was a simple thrashing (and what was the final in Game 2? I stopped keeping track when the Kings scored their fifth goal in that one). I know the Hawks trailed 3-1 to Detroit last year and rallied. In order to rally like that, a team has to have untapped reserves. Anyone have any idea what those might be this time around?

I know the defensive corps can play much, much better and maybe the trip back to Chicago will help the big four (Seabrook and Keith, Oduya and Hjalmarsson) and Nick Leddy find their better hockey-playing selves. And maybe the Patricks (Sharp and Kane) will remember how to score and win. But there is really only one way to describe the Hawks' prospects at this point: not bloody likely.

And now, the Cubs. Folks who have been paying attention have known for a while that the great Theo Epstein North Side franchise rebuild isn't going well.

Despite all the glowing reports regaling the potential of all the seemingly wonderful prospects down on the farm, Theo and his minions have actually not drafted well. If you disagree, perhaps you could point to just one current Cub prospect that Theo and Jed (Hoyer) and the rest of them drafted outside of the first round who is on the verge of making an impact in the big leagues.

They have made lousy trades. They've alienated their one and only major league asset with big-time value (Jeff Samardzija). And they choked all over themselves when they signed the one big-money Cuban free agent of the last three years, Jorge Soler, who has been a complete bust. They could have spent just a little more money and signed Yoenis Cespedes (who signed for about $36 million) instead . . . or Yasiel Puig ($41 million) . . . or even Jose Abreu ($68 million).

Cespedes has battled through numerous injuries but since he arrived, all the A's have done is win. Puig is lighting up the National League again this year and Abreu will be back from injury soon to resume his pursuit of American League Rookie of the Year. All were right there for the Cubs' taking. Instead they signed bat-man Soler for more than $30 million.

And now, in an absolutely desperate move, Epstein has turned to one of the worst actors in Major League Baseball history and actually hired him as a Triple A player/coach.

You thought No Tippin' Pippen was bad? Manny Ramirez never met a poorly paid clubhouse attendant he couldn't stiff, and stiff again year after year for more than a decade.

But that wasn't the worst of it, not by a long shot. In his final few years as a player (and everyone other than Ramirez has figured out that he was done as a player several seasons ago), Ramirez physically assaulted the Red Sox' 64-year-old traveling secretary at one point when the guy couldn't come through with a last-minute Ramirez ticket request. Thanks to ESPN's Buster Olney (unfortunately most of the column at is behind a paywall), we have the story of how Ramirez once trashed a hotel room so badly that the Red Sox were asked to leave in the middle of the night.

And early on in the 2008 season, he simply stopped trying. He realized the Red Sox weren't going to offer him a big new contract so he couldn't be bothered to play hard anymore. Theo managed to trade him to the Dodgers, where he made an initial splash and was rewarded with one last obscene contract . . . which he screwed up by being caught taking performance enhancing drugs, twice.

I suppose the "not trying" part fits right in with the Cubs. They haven't been trying for three years now . . . at least trying to win at the major league level. They've been trying to pile up profits, and to win the Baseball America "most best prospects" award, but they haven't had any interest in making the major league product better despite continuing to charge their fans major league prices and then some.

Ramirez is the guy Theo is counting on to get his stalled prospects going at the plate? Epstein says that Ramirez will get weekly chances to play but that his at-bats will not get in the way of prospects' hitting. Wait, did baseball grant the Triple-A Cubs the right to use a 10-man lineup? Because otherwise, when Manny plays, a prospect, of course, sits.

Perhaps the Cubs brought in Ramirez to teach their guys how to use Performance Enhancing Drugs. I wonder who they will bring in to teach them how to not get caught?

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays Tuesdays after holidays. He welcomes your comments.

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