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White Sox Lose The Broadcaster Who Made Their Games Tolerable

Jason Benetti looks on from the White Sox broadcasting booth.
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers have poached Jason Benetti, because apparently hot stove season includes play-by-play broadcasters, too. This is a coup for the Tigers, as they upgrade from Matt Shepard, who was only a play-by-play broadcaster by definition, to one of the best announcers in baseball. Detroit's organization and fans (Maitreyi) will be gleeful about this development, and they should be, but what on earth is going on with Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox front office?

That might be a question that answers itself: It's Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox front office. The team's contract situation with Benetti was already more touch-and-go than it should have ever been with someone who once wrote a letter in elementary school saying his dream job was to be the White Sox play-by-play announcer. Before they picked up the multi-year option on his contract in February 2023, Benetti described feeling like a player in arbitration during the negotiation process, in which the White Sox refused to speak to his agent. “It was kind of a pain, really," he said at the time. "There were some things that we had to get through that I thought were silly, and I’m sure they thought some of the stuff that I was talking about might’ve been silly. But we got there in the end.”

There was always the risk that the White Sox would lose Benetti to bigger opportunities, but those bigger opportunities were supposed to be his national broadcast responsibilities calling games for Fox Sports—a sticking point during his negotiations—not the network of a divisional rival. Adding insult to injury is the false sense of security when it was announced Benetti had a multi-year extension, only for the Tigers to sign him away just one year in.

Even with the acknowledgment that there is nothing safe from Reinsdorf's death touch, losing Benetti to the Detroit Tigers (the Detroit Tigers!) is a mind-boggling fumble. The organization can drop Tim Anderson and Liam Hendriks and commit fully to being bad for the next few years, but failing to keep Benetti and Steve Stone together in the booth is the biggest loss of this new rebuild.

The experience of watching regular-season baseball can be arduous, even when the team you follow is good. As the White Sox limped through this season, the thought I returned to was: Wow, the White Sox are real bad this year. At least I can listen to Jason Benetti. You know what I'll be thinking when the White Sox are bad next year? [REDACTED FOR LEGAL REASONS]

There was no real reason for me to care about the White Sox—I have no personal connections to Chicago—but I was hoodwinked into emotional investment by Lucas Giolito's no-hitter and the brilliant month of Yermín Mercedes. I avoided the tenure of Hawk Harrelson, so I can't draw any comparisons there though I've heard plenty about it, but Benetti was my guide through the two seasons in which the White Sox had hope. He was invested even as the White Sox lost, and funny when occupying the midsummer lulls of the game by talking to Steve Stone about laundry. He was also the rare announcer that would actually teach you something, who knew when to prompt Stone to talk about pitch shapes and sequencing and, yes, how to use and understand analytics in the context of the action on the field.

I'll stop there before it veers any closer to eulogy. Benetti's not dead; he's just in Detroit. At the end of the day, he deserved better than the White Sox, so he left for the Tigers. Chew on that for a little bit.

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