With a phalanx of microphones aimed at him like machine guns, a visibly shaken Rick Hahn once again attempted in vain to address continuing questions about the direction (or lack thereof) of the Chicago White Sox Thursday.
It was such an uncomfortable scene to watch that it looked like a hostage video where his captors, Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf, had forced him to read a script full of nonsensical propaganda against his will. I swear if you watch the footage closely, you can see Hahn’s blinking patterns spell out “S.O.S. HELP ME” over and over again in Morse code.
I’ve been as big of a Hahn critic as anyone since he was named GM in the fall of 2012, but I honestly feel bad for him now. It was fun to get under Sox fans’ skin by pointing out his abysmal record over his four-year tenure (273-339 and counting…), but it’s obvious he’s not the real culprit because he’s not the real decision maker in the chronically dysfunctional organization.
Despite his impeccable pedigree — 16 years of front office experience, degrees from the University of Michigan and Harvard, named top GM prospect by Sports Illustrated in 2011 and by Baseball America in 2010 — the White Sox have chosen not to give him full reign over the franchise. Instead, they’ve consistently undermined his authority and essentially made him a figurehead. He’s been hamstrung by his bosses’ egos and incompetence. They have turned him into a puppet and a punching bag to parade in front of reporters to answer for their utter ineptitude.
But yesterday’s charade is just the latest example of a pattern of abuse he’s had to endure over the decades. In 2008, his White Sox captors denied him permission to interview for the open Seattle Mariners GM position. Before that, Hahn declined an opportunity to interview for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ GM job in 2007 and removed himself from consideration for the same position with the St. Louis Cardinals. Undoubtedly, the Sox’ GM job was dangled in front of him like a carrot in a cruel game of mind control in order to keep him with the club. But this is clearly not the job he thought he was signing up for.
Loyal to a fault, he’s always played the role of the good soldier, but he’s been betrayed by his commanders. The only explanation I can think of for why he hasn’t already departed is he could be suffering from Stockholm syndrome where his feelings of trust or affection for his captors has compromised his ability to act in his own self-interest. In that case, like that of Patty Hearst, someone needs to step in on his behalf.
It’s time for us to take a stand and demand the release of an innocent man held captive by his manipulative organization for almost 6,000 days. It’s well past time for the Sox to end this hostage situation and set Rick Hahn free.
FREE RICK HAHN!