White Sox confirm Jason Benetti’s return, then drain the excitement

Guaranteed Rate Field (Jim Margalus / Sox Machine)

It sounds like the fears of most White Sox fans — that Jason Benetti and/or Steve Stone wouldn’t return to the TV booth — didn’t come that close to realization, at least according to Benetti’s presentation of the protracted negotiations.

Yet Benetti also refrained from settling for “all’s well that ends well,” which is a problem for an organization that struggles to do anything well.

First, he told 670 The Score that he felt like a player going through an arbitration hearing …

… and part of the reason for that is that Benetti had to deal with the White Sox directly, a topic that Sun-Times media reporter Jeff Agrest raised.

What’s unique about the Sox’ negotiations with broadcasters is that they’re done with the broadcasters, not agents. Benetti has joked that he feels like a player in arbitration. [Brooks] Boyer disagreed with the comparison but stood by the Sox’ way of doing business.

“Whether it’s [executive vice president] Kenny Williams or [general manager] Rick Hahn, they don’t use agents,” he said. “We’re compensating them; we have a partnership with them. There’s never been a need to have any sort of outside entity come in and negotiate these things.”

Boyer kinda sounds like a cop saying, If you’re as innocent as you say you are, why do you need a lawyer to talk to us?

It may be the way the White Sox have always done things, but the White Sox’s inability to adjust the way they’ve always done things is why following them has become such a bleak enterprise, no matter how much you want to like them. Everybody involved should’ve been taking a victory lap, but it sounds like they immediately headed to the locker room to ice down bruises. If gold is the hardest hue to hold, then why even bother trying?

In this instance, listening to Benetti’s interview with Danny Parkins embedded above, I wonder if the Sox have taken a moment to reconcile the difference between their last two broadcasters. Over the course of his decades in the White Sox booth. Hawk Harrelson turned into the ultimate corporate man, assailing the concept of multiyear contracts and devoting way too much of his Hawk Day speech defending Jerry Reinsdorf for his role in the 1994 strike.

Benetti doesn’t seem as willing to be kept under somebody’s thumb. For one, he’s worked so many games for so many networks that he’s more aware of what’s out there (listen to his praise of Fox’s college football production). He also says that, because of the prejudices he faces, he’s developed heightened sensitivity of situations where somebody might be trying to take advantage of him.

“In the end, in a faulty way, I assumed in the back of my mind that if you get really, really good at something, people are going to stop assuming things about you. That’s definitely not true. Or, like, they’re going to stop trying to push you around, that’s not true. People see how I walk — it’s amazing, when I’m at the airport, I walk by people who are like those free credit card people, they have like a ‘5,000 points if you sign up today’ thing. I always get stopped by those people because they think I’m easy mark! And I want to be like, ‘Yeah, actually the terms and conditions don’t apply,” but instead I just keep walking.’

The pairing of Benetti and Stone is just about the only enviable aspect of the organization, but even the unquestionably good news of its return is tainted by the suffocating nature of late-stage White Sox. An inability and unwillingness to adapt from how they’ve always done things loses compatibility with the way things are done now, and only a select few benefit as the product gets simultaneously shoddier and more expensive

A franchise-record payroll only bankrolls a .500 team.
A franchise-record free agent contract merely lands an above-average left fielder.
The other free-agent contract can’t be discussed due to a pending domestic violence/child abuse investigation.
SoxFest is canceled, and they can’t even be bothered to provide a specific reason.
The scaled-down outfield view bars look like they provide a view for about eight people apiece.

Hell, even when they briefly acted like a big-market team by signing Liam Hendriks to an impressive contract for a closer, Jerry Reinsdorf made a rare appearance to say that Hendriks didn’t merit what he asked for.

“There was no way I was going to commit to a regular four-year contract,’’ White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said, “so I was thinking, ‘how can we bridge the gap here?'”

Now you have Boyer taking an equally tone-deaf approach by comparing one of their most popular employees to two of their least-liked ones. Everybody outside the organization can see the difference between Benetti (a guy who would have immediate offers from other teams if the White Sox let him go) and Williams/Hahn (two guys who would never get the same title anywhere else). Leave it to the Sox to sound befuddled by the emergence of talent.

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ForsterFTOG

I, for one, am shocked to hear they do business this way.

As Cirensica

I. for one, am shocked (truly) they do business this way and remain in business.

Jason

Agreed. I have no faith in this organization so nothing in the past off-season really angered me. But to even screw up a gimme and turn off the only decent thing about the White Sox showed me the Sox can still make me angry.

Good on Jason for going public and shaming them. But his talents are wasted on this dumpster fire. Leaving because of the bizarre White Sox Way would have helped further the fan mutiny.

roke1960

I am really curious what attendance will be this year if the Sox get off to a bad start, as is certainly possible with the tough early schedule. I can’t remember a time when the fan base was so disgusted with the front office, and that’s saying a lot, given that they have done plenty in the past to disgust us.

Jason

We’re definitely in post-94 strike territory. Hopefully attendance is lower this year.

roke1960

I hope they set an attendance record. Robert is an MVP candidate, Yoan, Grandal and Giolito all bounce back strong, they find a fifth starter that is not an abuser, and Grifol punches all the right buttons. Then maybe Jerry adds at the break and Hahn proves us all wrong.

RayHerbert

The John Allyn years weren’t so great

roke1960

Can you imagine how he would have handled free agency? I’m sure that’s a big reason he sold the team back to Veeck.

HouseOfTheRisingSox

I heard this interview live, and thought the same thing. Definitely was missing a celebratory tone and this article filled in some gaps as to why. Sox don’t deserve Jason. Although I would hope Sox cheapness was trying to take advantage of him being a fan of the team first and not a disability, but I certainly understand Jason’s perspective and he is the only one with real credibility.

Willardmarshall

Would’ve been so easy not to screw this up….

HallofFrank

It’s so annoying. I just don’t get it.

Matt

Somehow they seem to be getting worse at doing this baseball stuff. Maybe it’s just more public now, not sure, but it definitely feels worse. Boyer’s statement is beyond naive. He should be embarrassed.

Matt

sadly nothing comes easy with the White Sox

roke1960

This organization is rotten to the core, and nothing will change until Jerry dies.

asinwreck

It is difficult, but not impossible to find local examples of worse ownership in this century. (Now watch Reinsdorf use that line of reasoning to get out of paying taxes.)

StockroomSnail

“White Sox baseball: we’re not the worst” does seem like a tag line Jerry would try to sell us.

HallofFrank

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

Greg Nix

Great analysis here, Jim. The Sox should be studied in business school. Reinsdorf’s personal biases and complete insularity hurt them at EVERY SINGLE level. The consistency is amazing.

As Cirensica

I predict Jim is gonna be hard pressed to find cheerful topics to write in here during 2023. This organization appears to be ran by dementors in clown costumes. Maybe he can write about curling, or bring back those historical White Sox articles he did so well during his SSS times.

I just can’t see how can we discuss here any accomplishment Mike Clevinger does on a given game if he was cleared to pitch. “He pitched a one hit game into the 8th….the White Sox win”, while we all have the he mistreats women and children in the back of our minds. Let’s praise him? Hoorays? What kind of feeling is the adequate?

I truly hope some happy stories surge along the lines of this season like Oscar Colas having a monster season or Lenyn Sosa developing into the next Andres Gimenez. We are gonna need those distractions.

calcetinesblancos

I didn’t hear/see the Score interview, so here is my question: does Jason choose not to have an agent, or does he have one and the Sox refuse to negotiate with them? That’s the only thing I’m unclear on.

We’ll know the animosity has reached a dangerous level when Jason hires Scott Boras lol.

StockroomSnail

I hope he starts a broadcasters union and sticks it to the white sox.

a-t

they’re such assholes lol

Bonus Baby

It’s to the point that I don’t even really feel bad for hoping Reinsdorf dies. My brain tells me that I should, because you shouldn’t hope for someone else to die, but the behavior is just so shitty, and so full of disdain for their fans and others, that I just want him gone — in apparently the only way he’ll ever go.

a-t

he’s ancient and has nothing more to do. i wish him a painless passing in his sleep next Tuesday

ForsterFTOG

Would it be any better without him? Does his family and the rest of the nonagenarians immediately sell if Jerry’s gone?

As Cirensica

We’ll eventually find out.

Bonus Baby

Almost 20 years ago, he publicly said that he told his kids to sell the Sox:

“In May 2004, Reinsdorf appeared on “Chicago Tonight” hosted by Bob Sirott. During the interview he again said that he has told his family that when he passes away they should “sell the Sox, keep the Bulls.” Part of the reason he said was because the salary structure in the NBA is better suited from an ownership standpoint (i.e. they have a salary cap, while MLB does not.)”

https://www.southsidesox.com/2022/8/29/23325369/jerry-reinsdorf-selling-chicago-white-sox-not-on-his-life

I hope the Sox part is true, and the Bulls part false.

I have no real idea though about ownership structures, the desires of limited partners, or any relevant incentives to sell or buy depending on markets or the actions of people trying to buy.

Augusto Barojas

It’s a shame that it comes to that, but who can blame you for feeling that way. I do. Uber rich billionaires who are super cheap, phony, joyless a-holes don’t make the world a better place, that’s for sure.

I hope his soul finds peace, but when he passes… good riddance.

jorgefabregas

Saying that they don’t negotiate with agents because Rick Hahn doesn’t use an agent is such “you don’t need a union because we’re family here” stuff.

Rick Hahn is a JD/MBA whose job is to negotiate contracts. And he used to be an agent! Him not using an agent is a lot different than a broadcaster being prevented from using one (even if the broadcaster has a JD).

Bonus Baby

As to having a JD, that alone isn’t going to teach you how to agent. It doesn’t even really teach you how to law. It’s only after law school that you can start really learning how to do either.

ParisSox

This

hitlesswonder

The White Sox ownership history has got to be one of the more accursed in all of sports.

Maybe instead of paying attention to the 2023 season we could re-run 1959 on this website or do a simulated season. Maybe we could hire Benetti live stream a sim game.

Last edited 1 year ago by hitlesswonder
Alfornia Jones

Running a modern day sports franchise is too much for JR and Co. To have the head of marketing negotiating the contract for arguably the face of the franchise is beyond insulting. Benetti deserves way better than this team, and probably way more than they are paying them. He and Stone are the only reason to tune in, the product is horseshit.

The next fiasco is Clevinger reporting to camp and donning White Sox gear.

PauliePaulie

He’s good at what he does and is seemingly in demand.
After seeing this reporting, I’m a little surprised he came back.
Really drives home why the Sox don’t attract top talent at any level of the org., on or off the field.

ForsterFTOG

Guessing that’s the reason why Benetti discussed this publicly. Can’t imagine the Three Stooges are happy with this coming out.

BenwithVen

Just another chapter in this ownership’s needlessly antagonistic relationship with its fanbase.

FishSox

It’s a curtain call for the TLR hiring during the “contention window”/

asinwreck

After Jerry dies, will any of the detrius in upper management ever work in baseball again?

Chris

I would bet that would be a big NO…. Not unless its in concessions or janitorial services at a stadium. But as far as working for another team in a baseball related capacity… there toast. And, I think most know it. Hence why they kiss the ring and protect Ebenezer Jerry they way they do.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris
Steve.Rosey

For an organization as loyal as the Sox, this situation is truly befuddling. I watch a lot of college basketball and my non-Chicago friends routinely mention how lucky Sox fans are to have Jason.

Take care of your key staff and they’ll take care of you. Stop being so protective of the almighty dollar.

Joliet Orange Sox

I also watch a lot of college basketball and I agree Benetti is a great basketball play-by-play announcer. Benetti actually makes Stephen Bardo listenable! When Benetti was still with ESPN, his games broadcasting with Robbie Hummel were just excellent.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joliet Orange Sox
FishSox

I felt the same about Jim Durham with the Bulls. JR sacked him.

dongutteridge

I just wish that nearly everything this team does didn’t make me think, “I can’t wait till we have new ownership.”

Last edited 1 year ago by dongutteridge
Matt

the only consistent with the Sox is for any good will, they pile on negative PR to distract. At this point it feels like they actively try to troll situations just to frustrate their consumer base. Please White Sox, just shut up and stop acting like you’re way works. Results speak for themselves, regardless of excuses or circumstance. Jerry’s words of “Hope does not always translate into Reality” is basically the Sox mantra ironically

King Joffrey

Sox management’s attitude towards its fanbase has evolved from aversion to contempt to hostility.

Tweaky

Living in Portland, my fandom pretty much is in a race between JR passing away (and hoping things change at that point) and Portland getting a baseball team. The WS have been my favorite sports team my entire life until this year…the Bears are now firmly #1 (despite their own issues). I’m now 100% ready to move on if they continue like this and PDX gets a team. I never imagined I’d ever speak such words, but here we are….

Torpedo Jones

As someone who also has the Sox and Bears #1 and #2, how sad is it that the team supposedly in the full-bloom, contention window of a rebuild is the less enjoyable option than the one in the early tank-alicious stages of a rebuild?

The joy I felt when the Bears landed the top pick in the 2023 draft (thanks, Lovie!) felt so much stronger than nearly any moment that this “post-rebuild” Sox team has delivered. I hope the Sox prove me wrong this year…but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Last edited 1 year ago by Torpedo Jones
yinkadoubledare

The Bears threaded the needle of “actually pretty fun to watch most weeks” and “bad enough to get the number 1 overall pick” which is pretty amazing. Pairing Fields with 1.5 rosterable NFL receivers on the team (Claypool is the half, since he came midseason) and watching Fields making chicken salad out of it, only to be done in by the defense or fail in the last minute was basically the best case scenario for the team going forward.

The White Sox are more miserable feeling because they’re supposed to be good now. It’s what they sold us before when the rebuild started. And yet again, they sold us a bill of goods. Whiffing on Machado and not even trying on Harper (who seemed like the better fit for what they had and didn’t have!), hiring LaRussa, still trying to cheap out rather than finish the job of building a championship team, just a constant disappointment.

Trooper Galactus

Actually, at the time, I thought Machado was the better fit. Moncada hadn’t been shifted to third and the team had a lot of excellent-to-intriguing outfield prospects (Jimenez, Robert, Rutherford, Basabe, Adolfo, Gonzalez, Walker).

Trooper Galactus

Kinda makes me think of 2015, when the best moment of the season was the White Sox losing their last game and the Mariners winning theirs, handing the White Sox the #10 overall pick.

…which was used on Zack Collins.

ParisSox

I sadly felt the same thing when I was watching that Texans game.

SaintCharlie5

Hello fellow Portlander! I’m totally ready to adopt the PDX team as well. There is a buzz and excitement that comes with being a fan from the start, and I’m excited to share that withy son. The wsox (Jerry) have taken advantage of their fans and made baseball more of a chore these past few years.

Nellie Fox

I mute the broadcast, as I can not take the stupid dialogue between the two during the game.Sometimes, they talk about the ongoing game but most of it is just not baseball related.

Trooper Galactus

Why would you want it to be?

dwjm3

The scaled-down outfield view bars look like they provide a view for about eight people apiece.

I got a chuckle out of this

Trooper Galactus

“Hey, the White Sox did something goo…oh, for fuck’s sake.”

Just trust the process, everyone. The Sox are going to sign their burgeoning star to an extension, trade him away and then six years after they’ll win two playoff games. It’ll be great!

StockroomSnail

Another victory against labor, the white sox can’t stop winning.

gibby32

The comments to this post are of a piece with the comments to any post at this point, which is to say, utterly and completely negative. That is completely justifiable, given this off-season. Weird is the fact that the team, most notably in the person of Rick Hahn, has been virtually completely silent, not trying to sell the off-season as some kind of success, portending good fortune during 2023. That stance is likely explained by the fact that anything they say would be met with complete derision. And that anticipated derision explains the cancellation of Soxfest. But it also is consistent for the first time with some degree of organizational self-awareness. It leaves this February as the strangest that I can recall. Here’s another weird thing: it has made me inexplicably optimistic. Not overly so because, after all, they don’t have a fifth starter, much less a sixth or seventh. But it’s almost as if they are saying “watch what we do, not what we say”, which actually is a tad refreshing. There is a lot of pressure on Grifol, Montoyo, the rest of the coaching staff, and the strength and conditioning staff, but I am interested to see how it plays out.

Joliet Orange Sox

+1 for the rare well-stated take that surprised me.

roke1960

Very interesting. Well, they are certainly putting the pressure on themselves to perform. How will everyone here react if they finish April with a strong record and in first place by several games? Will we all get caught up in the excitement? If Yoan and Giolito have great first months and they are healthy going into May, how will everyone here react?

Trooper Galactus

If 2016 was any indication, people ain’t gonna buy in to a hot start unless it extends past the All-Star break. Too much trust has been broken and far too little done to fix that (as in 2016, the roster holes they failed to patch are all too apparent) for them to regain enthusiasm quickly.

roke1960

That’s a good point. That 23-10 start was a mirage. After that lost weekend in KC, you knew the season was over. I think this team has more talent than that. But there are still obvious holes that could have been pretty easily patched this winter, and Rick and Jerry just refused to do it. But if Colas is good, that will make a huge difference.

Trooper Galactus

There’s far too many “ifs” on this team. “If” Eloy, Tim, Robert, Grandal, and Moncada are healthy. “If” Lynn and Giolito can rebound. “If” Colas and Romy/Sosa can hold the line. “If” the bullpen can fill in around Hendriks’s absence. And so on, and so on.

Bonus Baby

Usually the comments sections will include some optimistic comments sprinkled in there, or at least some debates about things like who the Sox should try to trade for, which are neither optimistic nor pessimistic. But I agree with your general point about overwhelming negativity.

As to watching what the Sox do, I’m interested in more than just what the manager/coaching staff does and how players currently here play out — though I’m hopeful there. I’m also very interested in the Sox FO/owner doing more things before the season: (1) 4th OF; (2) LH2B; (3) fifth starter. The first two IMO are hugely important, and the Sox should “show not tell” by trading for useful pieces there. I feel like these two should really not be too hard to accomplish if they just have the will to get it done. The third thing is obviously also important, but I doubt they can trade for one. I want them to just sign Wacha now, on the assumption that Clevinger will be suspended for most or all of the season, and just risk having to pay them both. I’m much more skeptical that they’ll do this, but it would go a long way to show that they are doing good things instead of just trying to say good things.

gibby32

I really did not expect any recs or other positive reaction, so thanks to each of you. BB, sure I would like each of the items that you identify. However, a credible fourth outfielder will cost money that it seems the team will not spend. It’s also not nuts to keep your fingers crossed that Colas is for real. Keeping your fingers crossed that each of Benintendi, Robert and Colas stays healthy seems like more of a reach, however. Second base? Yeah, relying on Romy or Lenyn to break out seems nuts. But the 5th starter is the real issue. Yes, they should sign Wacha immediately. He’s apparently looking for a two-year contract, which is fine since there is no guarantee that the team will have Giolito in 2024. Then they should keep fingers crossed that Clevinger is suspended for as long as possible.

Bonus Baby

Fair enough. But Laureano and Kemp combined would be $7.275M — plus minor leaguers to actually get the trades done, of course — I refuse to believe they couldn’t be pried from the A’s for some reasonable price. That seems more likely from a spending perspective than Wacha, and I expect it would end up adding more value to the team this year.

Chris

As it pertains to the White Sox and Bulls…. it is Reisndorf’s policy not deal with agents for either team perspective coach/supports staff’s. That way Reinsdorf has an extra advantage during any negotiating.

This has been Jerry’s policy for some time. Several of the Bull’s head coaches had similar problems during initial contract negotiations and or renegotiating. Phil Jackson & Thom Thibodeau are prime examples.

So it is not surprising at all Benetti’s contact took longer to complete and there is some acrimony. His profile is raising… He is probably pricing himself out the Reinsdorf budget. So I would imaging this contract might be his last with the Sox.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris
Ben

“Late stage White Sox”

10/10, no notes.