Showing posts with label Brooks Boyer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brooks Boyer. Show all posts

Thursday, January 14, 2016

White Sox name Jason Benetti new announcer, settle questions about TV booth

Jason Benetti (left) has been added to the White Sox broadcast team.
The White Sox on Wednesday named Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate Jason Benetti their new TV play-by-play announcer, while at the same time extending the contracts of Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone.

Benetti, 32, will call 81 games alongside Stone this season. The local product grew up as a White Sox fan and has called college basketball, football, baseball and lacrosse at ESPN since 2011. He also previously served as the radio play-by-play man for the Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

"Jason is one of the top up-and-coming voices in sports television," White Sox vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer said in a news release. "He is a homegrown talent who will mix a love for the game with a deep knowledge of the White Sox and an informative and entertaining style. We believe Sox fans will immediately connect with his humor, intellect and personality."

"Joining the White Sox television team of Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone -- with the chance to work with Steve on home games -- is truly a dream come true for a kid who grew up in the south suburbs watching Sox games during the 1990s," Benetti said in the release. "This is beyond exciting for me."

The 74-year-old Harrelson will begin a reduced schedule this year. Like Benetti, "Hawk" will work 81 games, 78 of them on the road, plus Opening Day at U.S. Cellular Field and the two home games against the Cubs.

I like the move to bring Benetti on board for a few reasons. First, he's a professional broadcaster. He already knows his way around a broadcast booth, and he has earned this opportunity through his previous work. Those things seem like they should be a prerequisite for the job, but that's not always been the case with the White Sox -- who have inexplicably tried to force former players into the booth in the past. Darrin Jackson has improved through the years, but he really struggled when he first started with the team. And Chris Singleton's time in the Sox radio booth was a disaster. With Benetti, there shouldn't be any sort of learning curve that makes the broadcasts an awkward listen. He'll be ready to do the job from day one.

Secondly, Benetti is a guy who grew up in the area, so he's familiar with White Sox history, the Chicago market and the fan base. That institutional knowledge can only help as he works to build a connection with the fans in his first year. I'm optimistic his broadcasts will both entertain and inform, regardless of whether the White Sox are winning or losing. Too often, the Harrelson-Stone TV booth has had fans reaching for the mute button -- if not the off button -- in recent years. Benetti hopefully can provide a change of pace that makes Sox baseball more fun.

And, lastly, I think the reduced schedule will be beneficial for Hawk Harrelson. He has sounded terrible at times during these past few seasons, perhaps beaten down by the Sox losing a total of 264 games the last three years. His extension is a multiyear deal, but he admitted this could be his last year if the 2016 Sox stink it up.

"It’s a contract, that, as I told [Brooks Boyer] and [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf], it might be at the end of the season where I say 'Hey, I’ve had enough,' " Harrelson told the Sun-Times Wednesday. "I hope that’s not the case because that means our team didn’t do well again. If I have to go through another season like we did last year, that would probably be enough -- no, you can count me out."

Hawk has been a polarizing figure throughout his career, even for Sox fans, but I've always said this about him: He's great when the team is doing well, because his passion for Sox baseball shines through on the broadcasts. But when the team is doing poorly, as has been the case for three years, he becomes completely miserable and makes the broadcasts hard to listen to for even the most diehard of fans. I think the combination of bad play and grumpy Hawk has caused a lot of people to change the channel away from Sox baseball.

Hopefully, the Sox play well this year, and it all becomes a moot point. But if they do play poorly, it will be better for Hawk's health and demeanor if he doesn't have to watch the team flounder every day, and it will be more tolerable for fans if they don't have to listen to Hawk grump every day.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

White Sox to season ticket holders: 2013 season 'simply unacceptable'

I received my White Sox season ticket renewal notice in the mail on Thursday. Prices for next year are the same as they were this year. They better be, given the woeful 99-loss performance the Sox had in 2013.

The first couple paragraphs of the letter enclosed, written by Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing Brooks Boyer, were interesting. They read as follows:

Dear White Sox Season Ticket Holder,

Thank you for your support of our team despite what was a very trying baseball season. Your passion is what drives our organization and any success we have is only because of your continued loyalty.

We want you to know we share your frustration and disappointment regarding the 2013 season, but everyone with the White Sox is confident we will be competitive again, and soon. We are going to be better. No one in the front office is willing to sit through another season like the past one. That is simply unacceptable to all of us, and I am sure, to you.

Indeed, it was simply unacceptable. I'm still renewing my tickets for 2014, and I do expect much better from the White Sox next season. The team that was put on the field this summer was embarrassing, not much better than Triple-A quality. Major changes are needed this offseason, and hopefully the signing of international free agent Jose Abreu is just the start.

It's worth noting that Boyer is not the GM. He's the marketing guy, so his words are not necessarily a foreshadowing of significant moves on the baseball side. However, you would like to think Boyer has some inside information about the direction the organization will be taking this offseason. Would he have written what he did if the club didn't plan on being active this winter?

As a season ticket holder, I'm going to take it as a positive sign they didn't send me a letter asking for patience. They don't seem like they are getting ready to undertake a lengthy rebuilding. Instead, they are boldly telling their best customers, "We are going to be better."

Good. That means they can't stand pat this offseason. To be better, change is necessary.. I'm anxious to see what general manager Rick Hahn has in store for us.