White Sox

White Sox: Jason Benetti gives fans new voice to root for and follow


White Sox: Jason Benetti gives fans new voice to root for and follow

New White Sox play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti and Cerebral Palsy Foundation CEO Richard Ellenson were scheduled to meet for lunch to go over how Benetti, who has cerebral palsy, can help his foundation. 

What was thought to be a quick chat between the two turned into a meal the two would never forget. 

"We both put aside about 45 minutes and left two hours later," Ellenson said laughing. "It was a real meeting of the minds."

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

This lunch goes to show the type of person the Sox and their fans can expect from their new announcer. It's nearly impossible to find anyone that can claim a flaw in Benetti's character or announcing. 

Cubs play-by-play announcer Len Kasper called the Sox decision to hire Benetti "totally right." Legendary announcer Hawk Harrelson, who Benetti will be replacing for almost all of the Sox home games this year, thinks he can be "a hell of a good announcer."

Ellenson saw "rock star" potential immediately after their breakfast meeting and Benetti became a popular figure for Ellenson's "Just Say Hi" campaign. 

"He wrote a script that meshed with who I am or who I perceive myself to be so well," Benetti said about the video. "It has a little snark, it has a little humor, it’s fun and I just love being around somebody like that who is so driven to help through the power of creativity."

Ellenson says when he plays Benetti's spot at benefits he gets more laughter from the audience than anyone else. That's especially impressive considering other videos shown included Yankees manager Joe Girardi, chef Mario Batali and actor William H. Macy. 

"The look that he gives at the end of that spot," Ellenson said. "That kind of giggle is what makes him such a great sportscaster. To know not only how to deliver the line with a voice but to take it to that great place, to lead you not only to the action but to the emotion of the moment That's why he's so good."

[MORE: Three White Sox with most to prove in 2016]

While Benetti has watched his dream of calling games for his childhood team come true, he's remained humble throughout the process. Over the years, he's received letters from parents of kids with cerebral palsy, asking him to write or visit their child (which he does). Benetti admitted cerebral palsy is "a small part of who he is" but he wants to give kids a glimmer of hope like others have done to him as he was growing up.

"When I grew up, I didn’t have somebody with CP," Benetti said. "Walter White’s son on Breaking Bad, RJ Mitte the actor, has CP and he’s very open about it and I think that is truly amazing that there is somebody out there. So I don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a role model, quote-unquote, like that so for me it’s more of letting people know that if you have a bad day, whether it’s with a disability or whatever it may be, the option of getting better at whatever you do is there and it will always be there."

The bond between fan and announcer runs deep, as White Sox fans know with their relationship with Harrelson. In Ellenson's eyes, Benetti's best traits, his youthfulness, hard-working attitude and ability to gain the listeners' trust, make him someone that Sox fans will want to follow. 

"Fans connect to their team through the voice of their announcer," Ellenson said. "When you think about that relationship, you need someone who has both the confidence to describe a game for you and to take you through the emotions of the game but also the humility to understand the story really isn't theirs. Jason has that extraordinary mixture of supreme confidence and humility.

"He knows who he is. He's comfortable with it. He's not going to give you anything but who he is." 

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked


White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.