If you haven’t noticed, the Toaster’s Catfish Stew has added a new writer, Phillip Michaels. I’ve really enjoyed his new voice here. Considering how many A’s blogs there are it can’t be easy to come up with a unique spin on the team, but Ken and Phillip have completely cornered the market on the quirky, intellectual take on the A’s. Recently, Phillip discussed how he likes the Red Sox broadcasts and took the standard “White Sox TV broadcast is the worst on the planet” view. As a White Sox fan, I thought I would offer up my thoughts on Hawk Harrelson.
I will be the first to admit that Hawk must seem insufferable to a fan of another team, as he has a style like a college football announcer, with a lot of “we” this and the other team seen as “badguys”. I know it lacks the dignity that the generic broadcaster types have and if you like a dry, matter of fact broadcast, it must seem like torture to hear Harrelson. Here’s what I actually like about the White Sox telecast.
1.) The best thing that Harrelson does is that he has some passion and attitude in what he says. He’s not afraid to rip a player, as he knows that the front office will allow it. So many of these company men who broadcast games are afraid to say anything negative. Just ask Steve Stone about how being an opinionated analyst can be for your broadcasting career.
2.) If you like to hear stories about players from the 60’s and 70’s, Harrelson is your broadcasting guy, as he tells some great tales about different teammates and opponents he faced during his very colorful career. This is one thing that the ex-jock should bring to the booth, but very few do. When he discusses George Brett, it seems like he gets sexually stimulated, as he is completely enrapture with the former Royal. Did you know that his favorite pitcher of all-time is Catfish Hunter? Yes, Phillip and Ken, the man who inspired your site’s name is the former player that Harrelson brings up the most.
3.) One of my favorite things about baseball’s past was that so many players had nicknames. This seems to have fallen by the wayside, but if you are an everyday player with the White Sox, there is a decent chance that you might have been dubbed a name by Hawk. No other profession lends itself to nicknames more than baseball and I like anyone who tries to keep this part of the game’s lore alive.
4.) I realize that a lot of people think a broadcaster should just stick to telling what is on the field, but I like that Harrelson is willing to use his mic as a bully pulpit. The past few seasons he has had a feud with Jay Mariotti, which has brought some dark energy to the booth. Yeah, I know many think that a broadcasting booth is some kind of holy shrine where only the game on the field should be discussed. I’m not that guy.
5.) I love the “put it on the board, yes.” I’m sure it has to do with being a White Sox fan, but this to me is the best homerun call in baseball, as it is unique and has an excitement level that expresses how you feel when it leaves the park when hit by your team.
Now I’m not for a minute going to pretend that Harrelson isn’t pompous. He’s off-based on many of his thoughts about sabermetrics. Truth be told that if I had a choice between listening to the White Sox TV or radio broadcasts, I would always choose the radio, as Ed Farmer is the best in the biz.
I defend Harrelson in some ways, as I think the new breed of broadcaster has become a stooge for the corporate ownership, sucking the life out of the game. The days of big personalities in the booth I’m afraid has been lost. Hawk Harrelson has many flaws and can be frustrating to listen to, but I choose him over at least half of the snore-inducing broadcasters who have taken over baseball booth.
(INTERNAL DIALOGUE: First you rip Bob Dylan and now you somewhat defend Hawk Harrelson. Jesus Scott, are you trying to kill any credibility you have all in one week?)