Some suggestions for future White Sox broadcast booth guests

Bill Walton (Steve Elliott)

With Steve Stone taking this weekend’s White Sox-Angels series off, the Great Jason Benetti Experiment begins starting … tonight maybe?

We definitely know it’s happening Friday when Bill Walton joins the booth. It’s also happening on Saturday when Mike Schur takes Stone’s seat. And Benetti revealed that Sunday’s guest is set:

But as for tonight, I’ve only seen Scott Merkin’s reference to “special guest appearances.”

Two TV show creators and a basketball great who occupies his own plane doesn’t quite reveal the range of possibilities, but the pool is definitely more expansive than it used to be, when the guests ranged from Mike Huff to Frank Thomas to Mike Huff. No offense to Mike Huff.

Given the rare pleasant form of uncertainty, Sox Machine Supporter Asinwreck posed this question to the Patreon P.O. Sox bag

With Bill Walton and Michael Schur already announced, who else would you like to see paired on telecasts with Jason Benetti, and why?

… which I started to think about. But my pop culture window is rather narrow, so with my lack of imagination a potential issue, I opened the floor to rest of the Machine Team.

I’ll start with Greg, because he’s getting his wish with Sunday’s guest, and you can now treat his prognostication as what he expects to hear before he takes an abrupt turn into sheer pandering.

Greg

I’ve got a few picks. The one that immediately springs to mind, and the one that I’d bet on coming in first if you took a straw poll of Sox fans, is Barack Obama. Not only is he the world’s most famous Sox fan, but he’s also smart enough that he could probably explain to Rick Hahn why being concerned about the rebuild’s trajectory doesn’t mean that you want it to fail. Another famous Sox fan I’d like to see in the both is former SNL cast member Mike O’Brien. I’m a big fan of his show AP Bio, and he used to host a delightfully strange interview series called 7 Minutes In Heaven, so I’m confident his banter with Benetti would be fun. Finally, I’d love to see our very own team of Jim Margalus and Josh Nelson call a game. I think they walk the line between fans and analysts well on the podcast, plus the entire Sox fandom can look forward to an update on Jim’s home improvement projects when the game goes south.

Billy

This is my answer. Plus I think they’re already friends.

In (slightly more) seriousness, I’d love to hear a legendary L.A. play-by-play guy — Al Michaels for one, Vin Scully for another and really, Vin Scully — being liberated from play-by-play duties and free to just let it fly with stories and thoughts about the game. Watching a slightly rusty Vin Scully nonetheless work his magic would be wonderful. (I realize we accidentally had this for decades in Hawk, but perhaps some new stories would make it seem special again.)

Honorable mention: Letterman. And just let him do whatever he wants for 9 innings. It’s not like the team is good.

Ted

I second Billy’s mention of Al Michaels in the booth.

A baseball pairing I think might be interesting would be to get Brandon McCarthy as color. His personality (at least from Twitter) seems like it’d pair well with Benetti, and he’d likely bring a sabermetric perspective that’d also mesh well.

My pop culture exposure is likely even narrower than Jim’s, so I’ll beg off on that. One unintentionally hilarious (to me, at least) and possibly cringe-worthy pairing would be a random contest winner fan paired up with Jason. If memory serves, back when the Sox were on FSN they ran a contest for fans to enter to call an alternate broadcast. That, uh, did not go well. But paired up with Benetti, it’d be interesting to see if he could be nimble enough to make it work.

Josh

My pick: Sarah Langs.

The Chicago White Sox hired Mary Shane in 1977 for WMAQ radio and WSNS-TV to call games making her the first woman play-by-play broadcaster in Major League Baseball. Shane was let go during the season, and the White Sox haven’t had a woman in the booth calling games for either TV or Radio since then. I think it would be refreshing if Sarah Langs joined Jason Benetti in calling games. Langs graduated from the University of Chicago, so she is well-versed with the South Side. Her past experience is having worked for CSN Chicago, SNYtv, ESPN, and now is covering the New York Mets incredible second-half run for MLB.com.

Langs’ witty personality would be a great fit with Benetti. She has a great understanding of the game and happenings within the clubhouse. The nuggets of information Langs unearths on Twitter and for the Baseball Tonight Podcast would pair great with Chris Kamka’s findings. The broadcast pairing would focus more on recent playing trends and sabermetrics instead of relying on past players experiences. I think that would be a much-needed break from what we as fans listen to on a game-by-game basis. 

Jim

Barack Obama came to mind for me, but I quickly feared that his less-than-encyclopedic knowledge of the White Sox would spark a partisan nationwide argument over his authenticity, because few outside Chicago know that it’s a hotbed for mangling last names. I’d also piggyback on Billy’s Letterman suggestion with Conan O’Brien for the hell of it.

Given that this series is in L.A., I figured Jimmy Pardo would be a natural fit. Benetti appeared on his Never Not Funny podcast, and Pardo is an emotional Sox fan and raconteur who has no problem filling two to three hours of airtime. Craig Robinson would be a more laid-back celebrity Sox fan presence. Also, Paul Brittain could tell the story of watching Mike Trout grand-slam Chris Sale to hell.

For future series, I wouldn’t mind seeing notable fans of struggling teams tell them how bad they have it in a Misery Loves Company Edition. For Seattle, even if Jeff Sullivan is ineligible from detailing all the ways the White Sox drove Mariners fans insane this century, Meg Rowley or Mina Kimes could step in. Rany Jazayerli could road trip with Benetti to Kansas City to air his issues with Dayton Moore in Kansas City. I’d suggest Dan Szymborski for Baltimore, but the booth might explode.

Note: If you’re wondering about pnoles, he opted out because he feared his suggestions have major drawbacks. After the Walton game, I’m wagering that any reservations Patrick had will seem quaint.

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metasox

Some of the variety may simply be opportunistic with the series in SoCal but would be nice to see a commitment to interesting parings going forward.

phillyd

The Padres are off tonight, how about a tandem of Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis, Jr as guest analysts.

GrabSomeBench

I was watching last week when Walton joined Jason and Stone over the phone. It was intolerable. I almost shot the screen of the television while listening to it. I understand the team sucks but listening to Walton babble about whatever was the worst television I’ve ever witnessed. That is a lot of bad television.

The idea to bring in these “guests” leads one to believe that the White Sox don’t care about the quality of broadcasts. I understand that some people already know this to be true since they’ve listened to Jason on television and Ed Farmer on the radio.

Let’s not make it worse with uneducated (as broadcasters) idiots joining in on the “fun”.

yinkadoubledare

Mike O’Brien has improv background and Mike Schur was the lead of one of the more celebrated baseball blogs a decade ago, both of them should actually be decent at this. I’d rather have them than “insert former Sox player with no/minimal broadcast experience here” again.

GrabSomeBench

Ok. I feel we have some area of agreement in that Walton and Benetti probably will be a three to four hour long inside joke. I await to see and hear the other two but I’m not as forgiving as you Jim. This isn’t a question of whether a tree makes a noise when it falls in the forest if nobody is there to hear it.

lil jimmy

mike O’Brien can start each inning with,
” Alright, Everyone. Begin Shutting Up.”

yinkadoubledare

Lots of good suggestions above. Pardo definitely would be a great fit.

Rhea Butcher is a comedian/writer who is also a baseball nut and has a baseball podcast. In the groundbreaking department, would presumably be the first non-binary identifying person to call a game. Spent several years in Chicago getting their career going too. But mainly, is entertaining and loves the game and would likely be a good one for a guest booth spot.

Greg Nix

Rhea would be great and I’m NOT just saying that because they’re in my Sunday rec league. 

lil jimmy

Bill Leff is a Sox fan. He’s funny and easy going.

Trooper Galactus

I could have sworn he was an Indians fan…

(holla if you get the reference)

joewho112

The film: Major League

asinwreck

Thanks for expanding on this topic, Jim. And I’d like to apologize to Michael Schur for dropping the “C” in his name in my question.

asinwreck

Nah, that’s on me getting lazy.

As Cirensica

Nice picks….likely unpopular, but I wouldn’t mind Ozzie

joewho112

I’d be down for the Pistol Shrimp commentators (Matt Gourley and Mark McConville) doing a few games

tommytwonines

I’m surprised nobody mentioned Richard Roeper. He’s a diehard fan – I’ve got Sox in the City somewhere around here – and he’d be talkative and relevant in the booth. Slam dunk. 

Other Sox “celebrity” fans from a Sports Mockery list:

Michael Jordan
Jenny McCarthy
Dennis De Young
George Wendt 
Chance 
Mr. T (!)
Jerry Springer
Jim Gaffigan

karkovice squad

Keep that same energy, Mr. T.

asinwreck

I would be very interested in a Benetti-Chance pairing, especially if Hannibal Buress joined either as the third man in the booth or as a dugout reporter.

karkovice squad

Langs graduated from the University of Chicago, so she is well-versed with the South Side.

That’s kind of like saying Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell, Daryl Hannah, Ron Howard, Tom Selleck, and Cybill Shepherd attended USC so they’re familiar with Compton.

craigws

I’m confident that Selleck’s moustache is familiar with Compton.

Patrick Nolan

I just didn’t feel passionate enough about any of the names I was considering. For those curious, I was thinking about people like Doris Burke, Tony Romo, and Alan Sepinwall, with the former two being excellent broadcasters in other sports, but despite how well both prepare, I’m not sure if their entertainment value would translate to a different sport. Sepinwall’s an excellent TV critic and a baseball fan — I just don’t know anything about his speaking ability.

yinkadoubledare

Sepinwall moderates TV panels and has done podcasts (used to do one with Brian Grubb/Danger Guerrero when Alan was still at Uproxx), he’d probably be fine

Patrick Nolan

Alright Jim please edit the article to use my pick of Alan Sepinwall and please plagiarize yinkadoubledare’s exact explanation to be my own. Thanks.

Trooper Galactus

It’s not plagiarizing if you cite the source.

karkovice squad

How about Craig P Robinson?

karkovice squad

Good point, well made.

KenWo4LiFe

Dr Dre or ice cube. Big Sox fans.