At the start of the MLB Playoffs this year, I saw a tweet that I wanted to make sure I went back and spent some time on……..
My problem isn’t explicitly with the tweet, and I don’t know much of Lindsey Adler’s work, but she seems to play nice with the other beat reporter types, so I assume she’s cool and the gang. Also, I love Jason Benetti, so it’s really not explicitly about him either. No, I object to the immediate assumption that the shiny new toy is better than the toy we had for decades that faded at the end and wasn’t quite hisself anymore. It seems reckless to just say “hey, the new guy is more like me so he’s immediately great and that old guy sucks”. Remember, I like to analyze things that might make you uncomfortable…..I bring you, the 5, Hawk vs Benetti
5 – Story Time
Baseball games are long and sometimes have a languid pace. There is LOTS of air-time to fill up as I’m sure both of these orators would admit. In all of that, you need to be able to spin a yarn or two during the game to keep people tuned into a 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the Twinkies. Who do I go with, the guy who claims to have made more money gambling and playing golf in the Winter Leagues than playing baseball, the guy who has been in baseball for decades and effectively played pro golf, the guy who invented the batting glove….or the guy who’s been out of Syracuse just long enough to bounce around from announcer to announcer job? I’m going with the guy who starts his book off like this.
“You handsome sonofagun, don’t you ever die!“
4 – Playing Nice with Others
Part of being a good baseball play-by-play man is working with a partner, getting the most out of that person to improve the entertainment experience. We saw that on full display this season when Jason Benetti went for his weekend in Anaheim, where he hosted a cast of characters including the eccentric Bill Walton. Jason killed it, even for those of us that love Jason, I feel like he was EVEN BETTER than expected. Maybe we should’ve expected it as Jason does football and basketball for ESPN and travels all over the country with various partners. Hawk couldn’t make a partnership with Steve Stone work, now, Stoney might not exactly be a soft cuddly kitten, but c’mon.
3 – In Game Fun
There is a segment of you reading this that will be aghast by this take, but it’s correct, so you best be changing your mind. #SoxMath is a GREAT in broadcast game!! It requires immediate attention, hundreds of people race to the twitters to give the correct answer and Jason provides excellent prizes for the winners. I happen to be a winner from the 2019 season and Jason provided me with his game notes from that game a little personalized note from him. That shit is dope. One thing I would change about #SoxMath to broaden the group of winners is to throw in various pop culture based stuff from all eras, meaning, put in an obscure Talking Heads track reference for one of the clues so that my guy Mailman Jack can hop up in there and beat the young kids to the punch once in a while. Hawk had “Pick to Click” and that game sorta sucked, it was pick one player and it was judged subjectively. Nice try, but #SoxMath smashes that.
2 – Language
Okay, we gotta dock old Hawk for his dated and casually racist language. As WhiteSoxSlater would say, “He’s my grandpa” and grandpa likely didn’t mean any harm, but he was also too stubborn to realize that the shit he was saying that was not cool. So he’s docked points for that. Now, the fact that in White Sox nation we have a term called “Hawkisms” and we still spout off famous calls that Hawk made is clear evidence that Jason is FUCKED in this category.
1 – Entertainment
Both Benetti and Hawk are true fucking fans. There is no doubt about that, in fact, I feel pretty fucking lucky that throughout basically my entire life I’ve had tv play-by-play announcers who are as invested in this team as I am. Hawk would wear his goddamn emotions on his sleeve, including staying silent for several minutes at a time after some bad shit happened or even running down to the locker room to check on Todd Frazier. That’s weird fun stuff. Jason doesn’t really do any of that sort of stuff, HOWEVER, he’s starting to get a little red ass about him in certain spots, like……standing up to Stoney when Stone tries to blow some voodoo magic past him instead of looking at hard data AND most importantly, getting really fired up when the Royals were throwing at Tim Anderson. Probably my favorite Benetti of the season….he was ALL OF US during that rumble. One other knock on Benetti, that my guy KenWo always sites is that he doesn’t have a good home run call yet. This is true. PalkSmash was fun, but otherwise, still a little lacking there as well. Benetti is a younger dude and he’s coming into his own stylistically, so I expect this category to get A LOT closer in the coming years, but as of today.
As you can see, I’m not quite ready to give Jason Benetti the mantle as some folks in the broader media have already done, but he’s doing great right now and I look forward to digging back in on this after the White Sox play their first playoff game in the Jason Benetti era to see where we are at.