After Winning the Cy Young in '79 Steve Stone Has Become a Popular Broadcaster
Much has been discussed about all the joys we are being deprived of because of the Major League Baseball lockout, from the sound of the bat hitting the ball to the smell of the various foods unique to ballparks to the sight of pastoral green fields with a diamond of dirt enclosed. Thanks to the apparently shameless greed of owners and players, these baseball-associated senses are unavailable to us fans this spring.
Another of those sounds we have grown accustomed to, but will now be missing from our lives, are the voices of the broadcasters. It is that sense that Mike Lupica, a columnist at MLB.COM, so poignantly discussed in an article on March 7.
Lupica wrote with much regret how fans were starting the Spring without hearing their team's broadcasters, who over the years have become almost like a member of the household during the baseball season. His column focused mainly on the TV announcers of the Mets, given that the team is retiring the number of popular TV analyst Keith Hernandez in a special ceremony this year.
“Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez are as terrific a three man broadcast booth as baseball has known,” Lupica said of the current Mets announcers.
The trio are certainly entertaining, often making pop culture references to music or Hernandez's stint on the sitcom Seinfeld back in the Nineties. As for Darling, a graduate of Yale University and an All-Star starter for the 1986 World Series Championship Mets, there is very little he misses when it comes to analyzing pitchers.
New York's announcers are not the only entertaining booth partners that will be missed during the lockout, crews that almost invariably include former pitchers like Ron Darling. In fact, one of the most-widely respected TV analyst, a veteran of almost four decades, was a Cy Young Award winner during his playing days on the mound.
Steve Stone, who has been in the booth for the White Sox since the end of the last century, provides a lot of wit during games of the South Siders. Stone started his broadcasting career as a straight man to the legendary Harry Caray during Cubs games, and then he partnered with another legend for the Pale Hose.
He and Ken “Hawk” Harrelson quickly found a chemistry that made the duo a draw for many fans outside of the Windy City, until Hawk's retirement several years ago. Since then Stone has found a similar witty, albeit a much younger, partner in Jason Benetti.
During a game promoting small coolers, made by Yeti, the pair exchanged some word play that left most fans groaning but amused.
“Steve, do you have a Yeti?” Benetti asked his broadcast partner.
“No, it is not the right climate for an elusive Himalayan snowman,” Stone quipped.
“That joke was abominable,” replied Benetti.
One of the teams Stone pitched for, the San Francisco Giants, also has a popular former pitcher in its broadcast booth. Mike Krukow has been of the analysts working along side veteran play by play voice Jon Miller.
Over the past two decades Krukow has become famous for catchphrases, coining the command “grab some pine” when an opponent strikes out. His other well-known sayings are “ownage, ownage,” as well as his use of “in the squaaat” instead of the catcher position.
San Francisco's other regular analyst, Duane Kuiper, has a younger brother who serves the same role across the Bay with the Oakland A's. Along with former pitcher Dallas Braden, Glenn Kuiper in the Oakland booth crew represent a new generation of broadcasters.
Braden at 39 is relatively young for a broadcaster and, having retired less than a decade ago, he has actually been teammates of some of the current players. To reinforce his appeal to millenial fans, Braden has a podcast and a Facebook live page.
Basically, once the lockout has been lifted, fans can find entertaining baseball broadcasters from all over the country. For the early games on the East Coast there is the booth team of the Mets, in the Midwest you can find the White Sox tandem of Stone and Benetti, and for the Pacific Standard Time Zone you should lend an ear to the Oakland announcers.