Watching Chicago White Sox baseball this season has been rough, to say the least.
There certainly hasn't been much to cheer about as they are en route to one of the worst seasons in club history.
Despite the Sox' ineptitude on the field, many fans, myself included, still tune in to watch them for some unknown reason—well, at least most of the time anyway.
Maybe we are all just gluttons for punishment.
One thing that can add some excitement to an otherwise awful team are the announcers. And there's no doubt that White Sox play-by-play man Ken "Hawk" Harrelson is one of the more colorful and controversial guys in the business.
Love him or hate him, Hawk will definitely stir things up throughout a telecast.
He is known for his "hawkisms," as well as his outbursts and rants on umpires and for going silent for long periods of time when things aren't going well for his White Sox.
And did I mention that this year isn't going well for his White Sox?
Needless to say, it's been a tough year for Harrelson in the booth. His demeanor has definitely been negative for many of the telecasts as he has struggled to understand what is wrong with this team.
His broadcast partner, Steve Stone, is a guy who tells it like it is and the two of them haven't always seen eye to eye.
Stone brings a wealth of knowledge to every broadcast and has always been great at discussing the finer points of situational baseball. There's no doubt that the guy knows his stuff, but he hasn't ever been known as the most colorful "color" commentator out there.
And while the duo has had a solid five-year run together, they just have never really seemed to click.
The fact that they each have a big ego is a problem. They both definitely know a lot about the game, but they always seem to be trying to prove it to each other. This can work if you have one guy like that in the booth; but if both are that way, it can affect the flow of the telecast and lead to some awkward moments.
Enter Tom Paciorek.
Paciorek, or "Wimpy," as he has been so affectionately called since his playing days, teamed up with Harrelson to broadcast White Sox games from 1991 through 1999 and the two always seemed to have great chemistry.
Whereas Harrelson and Stone seem to have clashing egos, Paciorek has always relied on his self-deprecating humor to entertain the audience.
He put together a pretty decent major league career spanning 18 seasons, but talks as if he couldn't play the game at all. I think that's what endears him to many fans.
It's been 14 years since Paciorek left the White Sox TV booth and there are still many fans out there who talk about the days of "Hawk and Wimpy" with great fondness.
It's still really unknown why Paciorek left the White Sox booth.
He told Harrelson it was to spend more time with family, but many have speculated that there was more to it than that. He has since spent time as a broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.
In recent years, including several times this season, Paciorek has come back to the White Sox booth to fill in whenever either Harrelson or Stone is out. It has been refreshing to hear him behind the microphone as he still has the same easygoing demeanor and sense of humor.
It's in definite contrast to the arrogance that fills the airwaves when Harrelson and Stone are in the booth.
No matter whom he is teamed up with, he seems to bring a different vibe to the telecast. Both Harrelson and Stone seem to be more at ease with Paciorek in the booth, but Hawk definitely benefits from it because of the years they spent together.
The clip below is an example of the chemistry between Harrelson and Paciorek as they have fun discussing a highlight reel of Paciorek's career.
The thing that Paciorek seems to be able to do better than anyone else is to just let Hawk do his thing and play off of that.
He doesn't try to out-do him; he understands who Hawk is and what he's about, and he's okay with that. He enjoys engaging in all the stories about old players as much as Harrelson does. They both feed off of each other and have fun, which comes through in the telecast.
Personally I like both Harrelson and Stone for what they bring to the telecast, but after hearing each of them with Paciorek this season, I have to say that I like them much better when they are paired with him. They both come across as having more fun when Wimpy is in the booth.
Stone's current contract runs through the 2015 season and we'll see what the White Sox decide to do going forward. One thing we know for sure is that Hawk isn't going anywhere.
If it remains Harrelson and Stone in the booth, it's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, in an article I did last October I talked about why having Steve Stone in the booth is a good thing for the White Sox.
And it is.
He brings a lot to the table, which includes bringing some form of sanity to the broadcast by keeping Harrelson grounded. However, he will never be able to match the chemistry that Paciorek had with Hawk—more than likely nobody will.
When the two of them team up for a broadcast these days, it sounds like they haven't missed a beat.
It sounds like White Sox baseball.
And that's how it should be.
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