Chicago White Sox TV analyst Steve Stone recently stated that he will definitely be back for another season as the team's color analyst alongside play-by-play man Ken "Hawk" Harrelson (via the Chicago Tribune).
There had been speculation that Stone was looking to leave the booth for other opportunities. The cause may have been his relationship with Harrelson, which would certainly be understandable considering Harrelson's demeanor in the booth.
It's no secret that Hawk is an unabashed fan of the White Sox as their announcer, and he displays that with every broadcast. In fact, Harrelson and Stone were recently anointed as the most biased broadcast team in baseball, according to a Wall Street Journal survey.
However, if you ever watched a White Sox game, you would quickly realize that most of that bias comes from Harrelson, not Stone.
Harrelson is one of those announcers that you either love or hate, but there's really no in between. He has numerous phrases or "hawkisms" that he uses throughout every broadcast, and there's no doubt that many of them display his bias toward the White Sox.
I, for one, have never understood the problem that people have with this. After all, he is the White Sox announcer. Now does he sometimes go a little over the top? Well yes, but in general, I think that his enthusiasm is a good thing.
If you are the announcer for a particular team, then I don't have a problem with you showing bias toward it and wanting it to win. It's your team, you should want it to win just like any fan.
It's a different story if you are a broadcaster for a national telecast on FOX, MLB Network or ESPN. In those situations, it's obviously not professional to show bias toward one team or another, but that is not the case here.
I've also heard the argument that Harrelson checks out and goes silent when things aren't going well for his beloved White Sox. Again, I really don't have a big problem with this either because that's typically how I feel as a fan when it's not going well—I would expect him to be upset.
I think that most of the hatred for him as an announcer stems from the fact that he's blatantly rooting against the other team. If I were a fan of an opposing team, I may not like it either, but it doesn't mean he's a bad announcer or not entertaining.
The fact is, Harrelson is definitely one of a kind and certainly wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to White Sox baseball, which brings me back to his partner, Steve Stone.
Stone has long been known as an outstanding baseball analyst, who has a vast knowledge of the game and adds great insight to each and every broadcast. But he's definitely not the most colorful color man out there.
This is the exact reason why he and Hawk actually make a good team. Hawk is there to provide the entertainment and Stone is there to keep him on the right path. Typically, it's the other way around with a play-by-play guy and the color man, but not in this case.
Don't get me wrong, Harrelson has as much knowledge of the game as Stone—if you don't think so, just ask him—but there's no doubt that he brings the entertainment value to the broadcast.
They both played the game and had a good deal of success while doing it, so they both have the experience and the knowledge. They just choose to display it in different ways.
At the same time, I also have no doubt that there are instances when Stone wants to walk out of the booth during one of Harrelson's rants, which are often at the expense of the umpires. But instead, he chooses to play along until Hawk has had his say.
Let's not forget that Stone has had previous experience in this role as he sat alongside Harry Caray in the Cubs booth for 14 seasons. If he can survive that, he can survive just about anything.
Caray was definitely there for the entertainment value, not for his knowledge of the game or his announcing ability.
Stone has said many times that he enjoys being in the White Sox booth and wants to stay in Chicago because he loves the city. Whether he loves Harrelson is another story.
Regardless, I think that him remaining in the booth is a good thing for White Sox fans and for baseball. He has the perfect personality and demeanor to handle the up-and-down mood swings of Harrelson, along with just enough sarcasm mixed in to keep Hawk on his toes.
The fact is that the "Stone Pony"—as Harrelson likes to refer to him—and Hawk will probably never match the chemistry of Hawk and Wimpy (former Sox color man Tom Paciorek), which for me is the best duo the White Sox have ever had.
But they could certainly do worse, and they have.
Remember Sox fans, you could always have Darrin Jackson back in the booth.
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