Broadcaster Rankings (TV): Intro and #31

Beginning in late November, we’ve spent much of the offseason asking readers to rate the television broadcast teams (on a scale of 1-5 for charisma, analysis, and then overall) for all 30 major-league clubs — with the intention, ultimately, of determining which broadcasts might best reflect the sorts of inquiry and analysis performed here at the site. (Click here for more on this project.)

Now the results from the ballots for all 30 teams (including two for the Dodgers, who have distinct home and away broadcasters) have been collected and will be published here over the course of the week.

Over the next three days (Tuesday-Thursday), I’ll publish the rankings in groups of 10, starting with No. 30. In the meantime, here are some brief observations after having spent some time looking at, and thinking about, the results. Following that is the 31st-ranked broadcast team, according to FanGraphs readers.

Commentating Requires at Least One Skill
We should take for granted that, because baseball games are three hours long and because a broadcast team is tasked with filling all three of those hours with speech acts of varying descriptions, that not every moment of a baseball broadcast is likely to provide Audio/Visual Magic. The skill that is shared in common among all broadcasters is their capacity, at the very least, to keep talking — nor should the importance of this skill go unacknowledged. At times, I’ve utilized the function on MLB.TV that allows one to hear only the natural sounds of the ballpark — and it’s decidedly pleasant sometimes. However, generally speaking, I find that I prefer even a below-average broadcast team to silence. I won’t venture a guess as to why that is, but it very likely has something to do with how the world is a lonely, frightening place.

There’s a Real Relationship Between Fans and Broadcasters
Committed baseball fans spend upwards of three or four hours per day during the season watching (or listening to) their favorite team play — i.e. maybe more than with their families. As such, the relationships they develop with (especially) their hometown announcers are strangely intimate. And, just as we become more sensitive to the strengths and flaws and annoying habits of friends and family members and roommates, we become sensitive to those same qualities in our broadcasters. A fan’s appreciation for, or disgust with, his club’s broadcasters is considerably magnified by the level of intimacy involved.

Even FanGraphs Readers Might Not Need an Uber-Analytical Broadcast
The data reveal a significant correlation (0.88 r-squared) between the average Charisma and Analysis ratings for each broadcast team. That could mean that broadcasters become more likeable as they provide more able analysis (of the scouting or statistical variety, either way). What I’m guessing it probably means, though, is that the more charismatic the broadcaster, the less we care — or the more forgiving we are — about the analysis. The beloved Vin Scully, for example, received the highest average Analysis rating of any broadcaster/broadcast team. Having watched quite a bit of Scully, I’ll suggest that, whatever his virtues, his capacity for analysis is not chief among them. Len Kasper of the Chicago Cubs, for example, uses quantitative analysis with considerable frequency — and uses it responsibly. Other commentators (although all of their names escape me at the moment) are adept at making more scouting-type observations. And yet, the readers chose Scully — very likely because he’s the sort of broadcaster in whose presence it’s pleasant to be.

With those statements stated, here’s the 31st-ranked broadcast team, according to the FanGraphs readership.

31. Chicago White Sox
Broadcasters: Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.1, 2.2, 2.0

Three Reader Comments
• “The broadcast questions are a bit misleading because Steve Stone is excellent and Hawk Harrelson is not. I am not quite as bothered by Hawk’s problems as others but he can be unbearable to listen to.”
• “Harrelson is a whiny homer. But at least he is a whiny homer with some personality.”
• “In a perfect perdition, Hawk Harrelson would be forced to listen to himself for eternity.”

Notes
It’d be easier to describe Hawk Harrelson as a “polarizing” figure among FanGraphs readers if there were more respondents who defended him. While I, personally, am less put off by Harrelson’s antics than many readers — and, in fact, prefer him to certain broadcasters who appear to revel in blandness and polish — there’s no question that Harrelson is entirely himself. One note: one respondent left a 389-word note regarding the Harrelson-Stone team. That’s nearly as long as many posts on this site, and indicative of the sort of powerful feelings Harrelson is capable of provoking.




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.


118 Responses to “Broadcaster Rankings (TV): Intro and #31”

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  1. I love hawk for sheer silliness, one of the main reasons I look forward to a month of mlb.tv in april every year. I even have a notorious “He Gone” shirt, what a beautiful man. Hell, he’ll even be alive for another 10-15 years. Thass a hang wuffum.

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    • Max says:

      I am a Mariner fan, and I love listening to Hawk. He’s just so different in his own way, I don’t care that he’s a homer. I’m disappointed that he ended up being ranked this low, although I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it after hearing what people have had to say about him over the years.

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      • Max says:

        And I guess if I’m going to say that Harrelson doesn’t deserve this spot, I should say who I think does. I haven’t listened to every broadcaster in the majors, but the one guy who I have heard that I just cannot stand is YES’s Michael Kay.

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  2. Tex Pantego says:

    Stone’s been great since his Harry Carry days.

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  3. Bill@TPA says:

    Whoever said that Steve Stone is excellent might not have given him a listen lately. Hawk has a way of dragging partners down to his level, and while Stone was great with Harry Caray and on the radio, he’s absolutely dreadful with Hawk.

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    • Drew says:

      I would have to agree. As a Cubs fan I absolutely loved listening to Stone’s analysis back in the day. If I’m being realistic I should probably attribute some of the decrease in my opinion of him to the cross town rivalry, but I do think that he has gotten worse as an analyst. One of the things that made him great as a Cubs announcer was the fact that he was willing to call Cubs players out when they made mistakes. Depending on which accounts you believe, that may have had a lot to do with him leaving the organization. When I do tune in to Sox games, he seems to be much more of a homer than he was in the past. There’s still some good analysis in there but it’s just tougher to get through the rest of it.

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      • SBG says:

        My favorite thing about Stone back in the day was hearing him talk about the pitcher/batter confrontation. I recall countless times where Stone would say, if he throws this pitch he’ll get him, followed by that very pitch and strike 3.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Brian says:

        I would have to agree with you to a certain extent Drew. I like Stoney a lot and after having another half year to listen to him I still think he is a very good analyst, however maybe the fact that whiny ball players (I mean you Moses Alou) have complained about him so much in the past, and got him fired from Cubs games, has tempered his previous sharper analysis. As for Hawk, I have a love/hate relationship with him. Hes not the worst in baseball, but not the best either. I will take Hawk over the incredibly boring Joe Buck any day.

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    • Francisco says:

      I agree. When it was Stone and Farmer on 670, it was a great combination. And it’s not like Farmer brings out the best in people because Darrin Jackson isn’t all that great with Farmer either.

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  4. Todd says:

    Hawk, and the jarring expressions for which he has become known, can be a bit tiring. But as a Red Sox fan, I do not agree that he or this tandem is worse than the Red Sox duo of Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo. Jerry Remy, without question, is the worst broadcaster in baseball. Silly, immature, and woefully under-prepared. He seems to coast by on the pettiness of his standing in Red Sox Nation, and on whatever knowledge he can remember from his brief and overrated career. Anyone can read game notes into a microphone. He adds nothing to a telecast. Instead, he takes Orsillo – a pretty good broadcaster on his own – down with him. Number 31 with a bullet, in my book.

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  5. Friend of The Mute Button says:

    Stone is great. Harrelson is a seen-one-seen-them-all shill who considers himself as unique and wondrous as a snowflake. He does.

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  6. My echo and bunnymen says:

    I reall hope the Yankees team is ranked low, otherwise I’ll threaten to stop reading fangraphs for at least 2 days.

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    • j6takish says:

      Yankee games are awesome the days David Cone is in the booth

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Donut3 says:

      Ken Singleton and David Cone rock. Kay ruins every broadcast he does though…insufferable.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mike says:

        Kay gets a lot of flak but I see no reason to hate him. His skill is in keeping the broadcast flowing and getting the other guys to talk. He is great at starting a converstaion with Cone/Paul/Singleton and then shutting up and letting them talk. Yes, he does seem like a weird guy but he knows his limits and certainly doesn’t ruin the broadcast for me. If he gets a little out of control just hope Cone pulls out a “so me and strawberry were in a limo with madonna” story.

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    • JimNYC says:

      David Cone, Ken Singleton, and especially Al Leiter are fantastic. Michael Kaye can’t drag down the awesome color commentary rotation that far.

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  7. Hawk’s treatment of the White Sox is roughly equivalent to the sort of comments you hear from a really enthusiastic coach at a Little League banquet.

    This would be the highest of compliments, if the White Sox were in fact a Little League team.

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    • steex says:

      As a White Sox fan, I must say that their results last year are not all that different than what you would get if you put Paul Konerko and a few decent pitchers on a little league team, then placed said team in the AL Central.

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  8. Rhubarb says:

    I am a White Sox fan and over the winter finally discovered how to watch games on television without Hawk and Stone Pony yammering through my speakers. This summer will be all about ambient baseball sounds with the center speaker disconnected and thus Stawk silenced. I really like Stone’s analysis but these are the lengths Hawk forces me to take. He makes watching bad baseball simply unbearable. I get that his appeal to WS fans is his emotional attachement to the players and the team but I am emotional enough and don’t need Hawk raising my blood pressure any further than it already is. More than anything he believes that things will happen, instead of thinking that they will happen. For example, Hawk probably still believes that Brian Anderson will be an All-Star someday and just needs to work through some things. What really makes me mad about Hawk is how he totally feeds the myth that the Twins will always manhandle the WS through their unwavering fundamental Gardy play. His mood permeates through the organization and the fans.

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  9. somnalBIZ says:

    I was watching one of those Top Play shows on MLB Network. There were two different plays involving White Sox games where they had audio of Harrelson saying, “You gotta be bleepin’ me.” I’m not adding an edit there. That’s what he says. Maybe sort of funny if he says it in the heat of the moment. An eye roller when you realize it’s just another one of his stupid gimmicky catch phrases.

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    • MikeS says:

      The first time he did this it was totally spontaneous and heartfelt so somewhoat acceptable. I believe it was in response to a call by his mortal enemy, Jow West.

      Since then, it’s obviously a calculated part of the Hawk schtick.

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      • Newcomer says:

        You just described every individual element of Hawk’s broadcasts. He came up with something in the moment, and it worked just fine. Then 20 years later he’s still using it in every similar situation. And by similar, I mean, if he feels like saying it. Every year a couple more ridiculous utterances join the catch phrase team, never to disappear.

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  10. Colin says:

    I tune in to Hawk’s broadcasts every time the White Sox lose just because I now derive such pleasure in hearing the sad tale of the “good guys” being defeated. This is what Hawk does.

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  11. JtheExploder says:

    I have to agree with BILL@TPA. I usually catch about 3/4’s of the entire Sox TV broadcasts, and there seems like Hawk will rest his hand on Stony’s cough button. I believe Stone’s work in the booth is overrated, as Hawk holds him back.

    It seems the hatred between Hawk and Stone makes Hawk an even worse announcer than he already is, and completely holds Stone down. Stone doesn’t even seem to bring anything to the table he knows Hawk would disagree with, since there won’t even be a debate- Hawk will just say he’s wrong and move on.

    Last season, Stone took a series off (I believe it was against Seattle) and Hawk was paired up with his old partner Wimpy (Tom Paciorek) and the broadcast was fantastic. The two of them seemed to have their old chemistry back, and the broadcast was a lot of fun, as they both seemed to really enjoy themselves.

    Wimpy barely seemed prepared for the broadcast, but it was great to hear the two trade baseball stories and half the broadcast was laughing over bad jokes.

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  12. Eric says:

    I remember Dick Stockton and Ken Harrelson doing Red Sox games in the ’70s and they seemed awesome (I was very young).

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  13. Rainmaker says:

    If Tim McCarver/Buck are on this list at all its a travesty. I got Sirius at home, so I could mute those two…

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  14. barold says:

    Hawk is an acquired taste I guess, but even then it depends on how the season is going. When the Sox are doing well, he’s quite fun, but in a year like last, he got pretty annoying by late July.

    But, you must also consider that as White Sox fans, our only other local option is to listen to Farmer and DJ on the radio broadcast, and those two make Hawk and Stone sound like a pair of Vin Scullys.

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      There has never been a more obvious hatred between to people forced to occupy a room than there is between Farmer and DJ

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    • Johnnynewguy says:

      I would actually prefer Farmer and DJ to Hawk and Stoney. That is really how much I dislike Hawk. Maybe its because he is a hick who broadcasts in the third largest city in the country. Maybe its because as GM he fired Tony LaRussa. Maybe its because he has catch phrases that are just bad. But whatever it is, it sucks. The first year Steve Stone started broadcasting for the White Sox he was on the radio and not on TV. His pairing with Farmer was awesome. I was that the two of them did the TV and DJ and Chris Singleton did the radio. And Hawk jumped off Navy Pier with a 100lb weight tied to his feet.

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  15. Spike says:

    let’s cut to the chase, the Mets will lead MLB in at least something this year….

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    • jpg says:

      I agree. The three man booth of Cohen, Darling and Hernandez is as good as it gets. I disagree about one thing though. That guy in LA who does the one man booth thing is gonna finish #1.

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      • Spike says:

        maybe. I think Scully goes just a bit over the top in the drama dept. He’s a legend, no question tho.

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      • eephus_pitch says:

        Scully’s a legend, Scully’s an institution, we all know that. But what he does isn’t really play-by-play. It’s personal anecdotes peppered with the occasional tangential reference to baseball.

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  16. BDF says:

    Carson,

    re silence:

    I agree that most (all?) commentators are preferable to silence. However, I grew up with Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn, two gentleman for whom laconic might be an overstatement, particularly for those mostly terrible Phillies teams. Often they lapsed into long silences, letting the sounds of the game come through before they spoke again. Their rhythm in allowing that to happen was beautiful, and a prime cause of my contemporary devotion to baseball.

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    • That seems fantastic. I suppose I WOULD like that thing you’re talking about — a sort of “curated” silence. So long as it “fits” with the broadcasters’ style, anything COULD work.

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    • MikeS says:

      You get silence in White Sox blowouts. Usually it’s like this:

      *CRACK*
      “uh oh”
      .
      .
      .
      And it’s Twelve - Two Tigers.

      +33 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cricketer says:

      As an Australian, I’ve always felt that baseball commentary would be better if it was similar to the commentary we get on test cricket… where the commentators see no reason to fill every moment with idle chatter.

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    • David K says:

      I grew up about an hour from Philly, and I remember trying to fiddle with the rabbit ears to pick up Phillie games sometimes, even though I didn’t like the team, because I liked listening to Kalas. It didn’t matter to me that the picture was so snowy that I could barely see anything, as long as I could hear the broadcast, i was OK.

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  17. MikeS says:

    Can we have a link to the initial post so we can review those comments?

    Also, this is being quoted as a “study” by CBS Chicago. I didn’t know that internet polls were “studies.” In the same vein, it would be interesting to see how many votes were cast.

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    • Mike, I’ll be doing a conclusion-type post on Friday, I think. I’ll publish the vote counts, then, so they’re all on one page. It seems like maybe the teams whose ballots were made available more recently received fewer votes — which makes sense, but I’d like to figure out a way to make that not a problem if we do radio teams.

      As for the comments, I don’t know that there’s an easy way to share ALL of them. Plus, there’s a lot of just “I hate Hawk Harrelson” or “I h8t Hawk Harrelson” and various sort of misspellings. I’ll check it out.

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  18. Eric says:

    The catchphrases are corny and overbearing. I still think he’s made great calls though. I still remember the run up to the world series, one of Frank Thomas’ last walk off home runs as a dh, Buehrle’s no hitter..etc. He seems pretty genuine and is absolutely a homer. It’s like having that old curmudgeon of a grandpa who’s really bitter on that couch with you. It’s not fun all the time, but when great things happen it’s fun to have him around. He’s a polarizing figure and clearly not deserving of 31, but oh well.

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  19. Johnny Come Lately says:

    Not only is Hawk terrible, but he’s terrible on repeat. Has there ever been a strikeout of the opposing team where he didn’t say “He Gone”? Or a homer by the Sox that didn’t need to “Stretch!”? I swear he’s like one of those dolls with a string out of his back, pull it, and hear one of his 6 annoying catch phrases over and over and over and over.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. JWTP says:

    Was there any consideration for including McCarver and Joe Buck in this exercise… I wonder where they’d rank, if that could even be accurately measured without some gross overreaction, but Joe Buck definitely qualifies as one who “revel[s] in blandness”.

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    • Robbie G. says:

      This was my exact thought. I’d like to see where these two guys rank. Buck is shockingly awful to listen to. Buck paired with that incredibly awful “Written in the Stars” music during the baseball playoffs on Fox was painful!

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  21. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Hawk is terrible, I get the MLB TV package and can’t stand to watch even if that is the only game on. The Giants Krukow and Kuiper are easily the best in baseball, amusing, insightful guys that are full of baseball knowledge and stories.

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  22. Tim Kelly says:

    1) If you think Hawk and Stone are bad, you should hear DJ & Ed Farmer on the radio. My sincerest sympathies go out to all White Sox fans, they are truly cursed with the worst possible options.

    2) I note that Hawk, Stone, DJ, & Farmer are ALL former players, there’s not a single professional broadcaster on either side. I think that matters. I’ll be very interested to see if there’s a correlation between the rankings of teams with professional play-by-play guys and those that utilize former players only.

    3) Hawk deserves #31 for many reasons, but mostly this one: His trademark call of “YES!” has come to be often punctuated with a “HELL YES!” I don’t see why it’s necessary to include (borderline) profanity as part of your pre-packaged group of catchphrases (if you need a pre-packaged group of catchphrases at all)…

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    • Herbstr8t says:

      Tim, you sound like one HELL of a boring guy. You probably rated some empty suit “professional broadcaster” as your favorite. I’m guessing you look like lunch meat and you love Joe Buck.

      Don’t bring your kids to the ballpark, at any level, if you think “hell” is a profanity.

      -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JtheExploder says:

        Tim would be happy to know that the powers-that-be silenced Hawk’s HELL-YES call, after a few times using it.

        The only entertainment a Sox fan could really get out of current-era Hawk is when something on the field pisses him off to the point where he melts down. It’s truly a spectacle that usually lasts an entire series.

        If Joe West is umping a Sox game, get your popcorn ready. The game is secondary.

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  23. Carson: Aren’t there broadcasters that only do network broadcasts, and are therefore not associated with any team’s broadcast crew? I’m thinking specifically of Dan Shulman – who I consider the best sports broadcaster born after Vin Scully – and Orel Hershiser, who will not be burdened with Bobby Valentine this year, thankfully. I have on a couple of occasions only been able to listen to the HR Derby on my car radio, and Shulman does a masterful job of what is a terrible event for radio.

    Will these guys get factored into the analysis?

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    • Fletch says:

      Concur on Shulman. I love watching Sunday Night Baseball for him and Orel, even if it’s Red Sox – Yankees what seems like over half the time. I think it would be great if we could rate the network broadcast teams as well, if it means I can uprate the ESPN crew and downrate the FOX blowhards.

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  24. Herbstr8t says:

    Hawk and the Stone Pony are THE BEST. I demand a re-count. You can look at your computer if you are interested in sabermetrics. A baseball broadcast should be enjoyable, and that is what Hawk and the Pony do, they make it fun to watch.

    -14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bryz says:

      Except I’m willing to bet that very few of us rated Hawk and Stone so low because of sabermetrics. If you read our comments, it’s because of Hawk’s awful catchphrases and homerism. Look, there’s being a homer broadcaster, and then there’s Hawk. I don’t mind the “He gone” one, but he doesn’t and shouldn’t need to say “stretch” for any deep fly ball that’s hit by a Sox player.

      A good broadcaster reports on what’s happening on the field. Hawk gets angry or even goes silent if the opposing team does something good. Plain and simple, Hawk is not a good broadcaster, and clearly the FanGraphs audience agrees with me so much that all of us were willing to call him the worst.

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    • Bryz says:

      Oh, and him calling every single ballplayer by their first name or nickname of their first name is obnoxious. It’s one thing if you’ve got a player with a common last name and thus is easier to reference by first name (for Twins fans, it was “Delmon” and not “Young”) or when we had former manager Tom Kelly in the booth calling Pierzynski “Anthony” because A.J. was a former player of his, but there’s really no need for Hawk to call every White Sox player by his first name.

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  25. Kyle K. says:

    Not a Sox fan but I live in Chicago and probably catch 2 or 3 Sox games per week. I like Hawk a lot, I think his energy and candidness are a good thing. Maybe I would feel differently if I were a Sox fan and caught 6 or 7 games a week, who knows.

    (The text above this line is not trolling. The text below is.)

    I wonder who #6announcers will be?

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  26. ChgoDave says:

    So many more bad things about “Horrible-son” not even mentioned yet. Ever try to find out what really happened on a play? He’ll never tell you if it was scored a double, where the base runners ended up, etc. Rarely if ever tells you who is warming up in the bullpen, who is on deck, etc. All we get is his using the same slogans over and over and over again or talking about who he played against 40 years ago, as if we care or haven’t heard them already. And White Sox fans are stuck. He’ll obviously never leave, and no one else would hire him. Even having Steve Stone doesn’t help his telecasts.

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    • steex says:

      This brings up another interesting catch phrase from Hawk’s lexicon – “Should be, it is.” He’ll provide no actual description of a given play, just let you know that it should’ve been made and then was. If you’re lucky, he’ll give you the clue that it was either on the ground (i.e., a chopper, two-hopper) or air (i.e., a can o’ corn).

      However, under no circumstance will he let you know in which direction the ball was hit or who made the play. Granted, it is on television and you should theoretically be identifying the action yourself, but it still bothers me.

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  27. Jon L. says:

    Having seen a few White Sox broadcasts in my time, I’m very happy to see that they are ranked 31st out of 30 major league teams. Now I know I can trust the methodology that ranked the top 30 broadcasting teams.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Jonathan says:

    My dad and I used to watch parts of White Sox games on WGN just to laugh at Harrelson. For the better part of my childhood, he was more entertaining than the Sox. It seems like Hawk is good in bits and pieces, but when forced to endure him for an entire season, he must take away from the game.

    On a side note, I wonder what people think of Matt Vasgersian who is currently employed as an anchor at the MLB Network. He and Mark Grant were dreadful on Padres games during the mid-00’s.

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    • David K says:

      I agree that Vasgersian was pretty bad, and was very disappointed that he got to do some FOX telecasts as well.

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  29. Eminor3rd says:

    Hawk is Hawk, but Stone is flat out good. He has a knack for accurately predicting things like when a runner will steal or take a bigger lead, or how a defense will shift when someone comes to the plate. These things are really cool because you don’t typically see them on your screen. He seems to only speak when he knows what’s going to happen.

    Occasionally when Hawk is off, Stone ends up the only guy in the booth, though, and he is not very good at play-by-play.

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  30. Ken Harrelson says:

    DADGUMMIT!

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Baltar says:

    I may be the lone dissenter on Vin Scully. I’ll grant that he has a pleasant voice and manner, and I might even enjoy hearing him speak about another subject–but not baseball.
    His analytic skills, if you can call them that, don’t go much beyond batting average and won-loss record. He tells stories that sometimes take multiple innings to complete that have no point and are not funny. He also makes a lot of mistakes–just flat out says the wrong thing. And he repeats his anecdotes endlessly. In a 3-game series, he will tell the same “amusing” anecdotes about opposition players 3 times (maybe more if there’s extra innings).

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    • Matt Trueblood says:

      The Who made “You Better You Bet.”
      Michael Jordan played for the Wizards; Brett Favre played for the Jets and Vikings.
      The West Wing went seven seasons; Friends went oh-my-god-too-many. Fonzy jumped the shark.
      George Lucas made Episodes I, II and III. Lance Armstrong rode the Tour in 2009. Ali fought Berbick.

      The greats all keep going, long past their glory. They’d never have gotten there without the curiosity: How long can I keep doing it, even if not as well?

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  32. Brett W says:

    As previously stated, Stone has a tendency to rise and fall to the occasion. His radio broadcasts for the Cubs in the NLCS in 2003 along with Pat Hughes were golden. Then he went to sit next to Chip Caray again, and all the bland ramblings returned. As a Cubs fan, I admit that hearing Stoney has actually kept me on Sox games in recent years, certainly in a way Hawk and DJ never could.

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  33. buttermaker says:

    Hawk is an absolute clown. He acts like a ten year old kid who thinks every player on his team is a star. He’ll throw out ridiculous unprovables and state them as fact.
    “Nobody hits the ball harder than Tyler Flowers. Nobody” or “I don’t care what the stats say, I KNOW Pauly is a good firstbaseman.”
    I used to think Stone was good. Then I turned twelve. The guy smugly states the obvious or “predicts” what pitch is coming after looking at the signals and where the catcher sets up and the baseball illiterate proclaim him some sort of genius. And if he had any integrity, he’d call out Hawk on his ridiculous proclimations. At least one time! But he’s just in it for a paycheck at this point.

    Considering there are 30 teams, ranking these two 31st seems appropriate.

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  34. Antonio Bananas says:

    Harrelson is the sole reason why I hate the White Sox. He legitimately makes me want to hit stuff. When I play video games and the White Sox are in the World Series, even if my franchise isn’t in the world series, I will play as the other team and put the sliders on easy so that they get blown out 15-0 every game because even in a fake situation the idea of Hawk Harrelson verbally ejaculating over a base hit or worse, his horrible home run call, pisses me off. Holy run on sentence batman. Anyways I’m glad this is number 31, I HATE Harrelson. It’s hard for me to even put into words how much I hate him. If I had to chose to kick him or Hitler in the nuts, I’d probably kick Harrelson. Harrelson’s broadcast is genocide of enjoying baseball.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. Dave says:

    As a Twins fan with access to Comcast SportsNet for the past 6 years, I can say that there is nothing better than listening to Hawk’s disappointment during a Sox loss.

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  36. West says:

    Hawk became unlistenable when Tom Paciorek left in 2000 and was replaced by Darrin Jackson. Hawk took complete controll of the broadcast and Jackson had little or control of the broadcast and had nothing to say when Hawk went into a bad move. When Stone replaced Jackson, it started off great but then Hawk quickly became sick of Stone and became even more moody than he was with Jackson. Also Stone and Hawk became combative when Hawk started to call Stone “Stone Pony.”

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  37. Bill in Colombia says:

    I am not surprised that Hawk and Stone rank last in your poll. Hawk roots hard for the Sox (although he sure as hell can be quite critical of them when they deserve it). Most voters are not Pale Hose fans; and I am not surprised that those who support other teams do not enjoy the Hawk.

    That said, I truly love the man. I haven’t lived in Chicago for 30 years, but I rarely miss a game. My enjoyment of Sox broadcasts is far, far greater because of the Hawk.

    I enjoy his Hawkisms a ton. I’ll admit that, in order to enjoy them, you probably need to be rooting for the Sox. However, I do — and I think that Hawk is a blast.

    In addition to being fun, the other major strength of the Hawk/Stone team is that they broadcast in the moment. Scully and others tell adorable stories about the players’ lives. Others go off on tangents about polls their stations are running or other such topics which are only tangentially (at best) related to what is going on. During many non-Sox broadcasts, it’s common for the announcers to tell a story or talk about something unrelated to what’s going on on the field, then parenthetically add (after ignoring the actual game for a few batters) “Oh, there are two outs and a man on first via a walk.”

    Hawk and Stone focus on the most important thing going on in the game: the pitcher/batter match-up. Hawk, a former batter, is excellent at explaining what the batter is thinking at the moment. Hawk discusses the hitter’s strengths and weakness and what pitch he is expecting, given previous pitch sequencing. Stone, a former pitcher, provides similar input from the pitcher’s perspective. Together, their commentary is fascinating.

    Their listeners actually learn a lot about baseball, while being entertained (ok, at least I am entertained). I have no problem with those who do not find Hawk to be their cup of tea in terms of pure entertainment. However, I listen to as much baseball as virtually anyone on earth and I am certain that there is no duo in baseball from which one can learn as much about the batter/hitter match-up.

    If you care more about what a hitter did at his prom or what a pitcher does for charity, you are going to prefer Scully to Hawk. If you simply prefer Scully’s style, that is inexplicable to me; but that’s a matter of taste.

    I love everything about the Hawk and could not be happier that he will be in the booth for my favorite team again this season.

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    • buttermaker says:

      “Hawk and Stone focus on the most important thing going on in the game”

      Yeah, Hawk never goes on and on for innings about Yaz or some fictional golf outing with Mickey Mantle. Or the Bertucci Boys.

      Oh wait, yes he does.

      If you learned baseball from Hawk Harrelson, you must have known zero about it when you tuned in.

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      • MikeS says:

        Hey, rag on hawk all you want – he deserves every little bit of it. But stick to the stuff he deserves. He is a big time golfer. He missed the cut of the 1972 Open Championship (British Open) by one stroke. Those golf stories are as real as can be. I know people who know people who have played with them and the stories he tells off the air that he can’t tell on the air are supposedly riveting. It’s just the on air stuff – well documeneted here – that galls so many people including me.

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  38. d_i says:

    prediction: this time next year (especially if the Royals contend and more people watch their games) Rex Hudler will displace Hawk and the Sox team to overtake last place. He’s beyond awful.

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  39. Newcomer says:

    As a White Sox fan, I have to point out that there have been decades of baseball games watched on mute in the Chicago area, by many people. It used to be that you’d play the radio broadcast while watching, but now it’s a toss-up. I’ll sometimes listen to the other team’s radio broadcast instead. Hawk doesn’t see himself as a facilitator to help fans enjoy the game. He needs the fans’ attention to be on him, it’s not about the game. If I had control of the White Sox for a day, the first thing I’d do would be to fire Hawk Harrelson. He whines, sulks, complains, and spouts out ridiculously false “facts,” which “facts” he will repeat several times a game all. year. long. He is patently unprofessional and does not take his job seriously. They should have a fan contest to replace him. They’d undoubtedly find an upgrade.

    I know I don’t speak for all White Sox fans. There are some who genuinely like him. More passionately despise him. Some are indifferent. And probably the largest faction recognizes that he’s absolutely terrible, but tolerates him because, hey, he’s our announcer. Outside of Chicago, I expect him to be roundly mocked, and justifiably so.

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  40. Cheryl says:

    Hawk Harrelson is the reason I don’t have cable. I say that as a Sox fan–I do not watch the Sox on television and no cable means generally I can avoid him even when I’m channel surfing.

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  41. Daniel says:

    I don’t know why, but just recently I was watching Mike Cameron’s 4 Homer game, and the video had hawk as the broadcaster. MAN. even after the third homer he barely emoted at all, not even mentioning how amazing it was. He acknowledged the greatness of the 4th homer, but you could just hear how depressed he was. I know you’re a die-hard fan, but even most fans applaud something like that.

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  42. reid1923 says:

    I think we should honorarily put John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman in these rankings even though they do the radio, they would most certainly be ranked 32nd of all these teams. I’d give them a 2 for charisma, Suzyn contributes nothing in that category seeing as I’ve found more charisma watching CSPAN than listening to her speak. Sterling, though he’s a homer and very over the top, at the very least makes it interesting to listen to his over the top errors. Which brings me to the analysis rating, of which I’ll give them the same number as Otto Neu’s career at bat total, 0. If it were acceptable to be negative I would rate them well below 0. The issue is not that they don’t talk during the game, its that they often times don’t seem to know what’s happening or that there’s even a game going on at all. It’s truly amazing how two people so completely inept could manage to unite on such a public stage, even using random chance you’d assume one of them would have some semblance of an idea how to announce a baseball game.

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  43. Kevin says:

    The fact that The Hawk is such a Homer is what makes it beautiful for me. As an O’s fan, listening to one of the biggest homer’s of them all (and one of the most disgusted with his team’s poor performance), Jim Palmer, every night, I can tell you how refreshing it is to have a homer in the booth. Its like watching the game with your buddies. You can put it on the boaarrrrddd…love this guy. I honestly think this is in the top 5 broadcasting teams, just from what I’ve seen on MLB TV. Leave the unbiased announcing for the national stations. On my local broadcast, I want a guy just as excited/pissed for the home team as I am.

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  44. Ben says:

    Lifelong Chicagoan and Cub fan. Are most of the above criticisms of Hawk valid? Absolutely. But at least he’s got passion, personality, and a pulse, unlike Len Kaspar, who reads FanGraphs but is as bland, boring, and vanilla as they come. (Sorry if you’re reading this, Len. I know you’re a good guy.)

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  45. Ben says:

    Addendum: IMO, best chicago broadcaster is pat hughes. Not so saberfriendly, but great powers of description, great voice, and an unforgettable, heartwarming relationship with Ron Santo.

    We may be underrating voice here. Imagine listening to Buck Martinez for 500 hours per year….

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  46. Chike says:

    I think Hawk Harrleson is one of the best sports broadcasters going in baseball. Here’s the thing: Hawk isn’t fair nor is he objective. He’s not broadcasting the evening news out there. He’s calling a baseball game, more specifically, he’s calling a baseball game for Chicago White Sox fans. Strictly from an entertainment standpoint, Hawk gets the job done.

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  47. EDUB says:

    Gary, Keith, and Ron (Mets broadcasters) have to be top 5

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  48. Arney says:

    (Heavy sigh) As a White Sox fan, this is painful to admit but it’s hard to argue with this ranking. The Harrelson/Stone booth has devolved to the point where it’s difficult to credit it as a professional broadcast. ‘Hawk’ just gets worse with every year (in which he adds another catchphrase to the canon), and whether it’s his age or simply burnout from announcing so long for the Sox (or both), he’s become a cheap caricature of his former self.

    Growing up a Sox fan, listening to ‘Hawk’ wasn’t a chore in endurance to avoid the mute button, but rather an immersion into the White Sox universe. Harrelson was White Sox baseball. That’s what a Sox game sounded like. His schtick was classic rather than overwrought. Sox baseball was about ‘putting it on the board’ as the fireworks exploded out of Bill Veeck’s legacy on the South Side. Sox baseball was about watching opposing hitters ‘grab some bench’ after being put down on strikes (the real ‘Hawk’ strikeout call, not this ‘He Gone’ crap he’s insisted on spewing for the past seven or eight seasons). Sox baseball was a little different, a little quirky and silly (what with ‘can-a-corn’ and everything), but mostly a ‘fun’ broadcast. An entertaining call. When you’re the second team in the second city, you have to develop your own identity, ‘Hawk’ did that.

    Now, it seems like the very worst aspects of an announcer like ‘Hawk’ (rampant homerism, umpire bashing, stubbornness, rejection of modern baseball analytics, reliance on increasing stupid catchphrases) have taken over. Stone just seems overwhelmed. A fantastic analyst of the game, he continually has to play clean-up for ‘Hawk’. Bring a certain clarity to the audience, maybe this could work (Stone did the same thing in the final years of Harry Caray’s career with the Cubs) if the relationship between ‘Hawk’ and Stone was even remotely genial. Unfortunately, it really seems like they hate each other in the booth. They sit comically far apart for one. And god forbid Stone corrects something Harrelson said, get ready for about minute of dead silence. The effect is that even Stone’s worst personality traits (a definite degree of smugness) seem to be highlighted.

    Add it up, and it’s just a joke. The Sox TV booth has become a clown show that no one laughs at. ‘Hawk’ honestly doesn’t even have to show up, just call the entire broadcast with schtick and no one would know the difference (‘chopper-two-hopper’, ‘major-league-pop-up’, ‘hang-wiffum’, ‘ducksnort’, ‘right-size-wrong-shape’, ‘dadgumit’, ‘stretch’, ‘gas’, ‘mercy’, ‘YES!’). The list is endless.

    Having said all this, I don’t hate ‘Hawk’ like some do. And I think he’s given too much to the organization to just be cast aside by being fired. I just feel bad for him. Like a player who hung on too long and is a shell of his former self. I just wish ‘Hawk’ had the sense to put himself out to pasture. Where he’d be free to tell whimsical stories about ‘Yaz’ and make vague Sox references (like when he described a line drive as a ‘Warren Newson shot’.) Where he sit back on a rocking chair, and strap it down by tuning in to his beloved White Sox for a game of baseball. Even a game that may have passed him by.

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    • David K says:

      I don’t know it’s so much as Hawk getting worse over the years as you seem to suggest, or maybe you just grew up and what you liked as a kid, you realize was no good as an adult.

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  49. nelson saint says:

    Have any other broadcasters posed for Playgirl?

    http://blackdogue.net/Playgirl2/SteveStone/SteveStone.html

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  50. Steve Stone says:

    It was always hilarious to hear White Sox fans degrade Harry Caray while having Harrelson in the booth.

    The definition of being hypocritical..

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    • burl says:

      I think many of the long-standing Sox fans appreciated Harry from when he called games for the Sox through the ’70’s.

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  51. zingface88 says:

    Hawk’s grammatically-challenged catchphrases are undoubtedly annoying and tiresome. Whether it’s laziness or senility or a combination of both, he’s simply given up on retiring or recycling any of his go-to refrains and instead chooses to beat them without mercy into the ground (and our heads). I get that this is a big part of why he’s annoying.

    What I don’t agree with is the common lament that his homer-ism is so severe that he fails to recognize or celebrate greatness in opposing teams. If you’ve only watched a handful of games he’s called, you may have missed the way he reveres great non-Sox players because it is subtle, and Hawk rarely ‘does’ subtle. He played the game and knows how ungodly hard it is to play well. He loves watching great players do their thing. His tone when the Sox have to face great opposing pitchers and hitters is that of quiet reverence which borders on fear, as if he puts himself into the players’ shoes and doesn’t like his chances, and what could be more respectful than that? He knows that Gordon Beckham has no shot when he steps into the box against Verlander, and when he inevitably strikes out, Hawk will say, “Nothing to do but tip your cap to him, there…” I’m not really sure what opposing fans expect of him in this regard.

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  52. Drew says:

    I know we’re talking team broadcasters here but is there any way we can give an honorary worst spot to any broadcast team involving Joe Morgan?

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    • David K says:

      I’m in full agreement with you there. Sometimes when listening to him, I have to wonder if he really did play the game as long as he did, because he comes up with some head-scratchers that make you wonder.

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  53. Nick says:

    “Whoever said that Steve Stone is excellent might not have given him a listen lately. Hawk has a way of dragging partners down to his level, and while Stone was great with Harry Caray and on the radio, he’s absolutely dreadful with Hawk.”

    Undoubtedly the stupidest comment I read on here. You’re basically saying that Hawk lowers Stone’s baseball intelligence which is just plain stupid. I can fully understand people not liking Hawk due to him being a homer and getting annoying at times, but Stone is one of best color guys in the game (I said that when he was with the Cubs too).

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  54. Gordon Moffitt says:

    This is probably not the appropriate spot to mention my favourite broadcasters but I will. When my beloved Bluejays are playing those much hated yankees I turn to the yankees broadcasters on the radio. Can not even tell you their names but one is a lady. They know the game and are certainly yankee fan but they are well prepared to speak of the visiting team. They know the players and the issues of the visiting team and the points interest. I find it refreshing to get their slant on my team. They are articulate and well prepared. They are also fair and respectful.

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  55. I agree with the commenters who have stated that Hawk has regressed in the past few years. For one thing, it used to he “He’s gone!” and not “He gone!”, which for whatever reason I found much less annoying.

    Nonetheless, I doubt very much that the Hawk/Stone team deserves the bottom spot. I am not going to argue that Hawk/Stone belongs even in the top half. I get why non-Sox fans hate their guts, and even why some Sox fans feel the same.

    But any team that includes Chip Caray has to rate lower. I have never heard so many simply flatly inaccurate statements. At least when Hawk talks, he is unintelligible. He’s neither right now wrong. Caray doesn’t know his rear-end from a hole in the ground when it comes to baseball.

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  56. I think a lot of the negativity surrounding Hawk is fostered by the local sportsradio buffoons, Terry Boers and Dave Bernstein. These two boobs crack wise on Hawk and rip on him constantly. Nearly every true White Sox Fan I know loves Ken Harrelson,and sees him as a team treasure.

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  57. Crunruh says:

    At times, Hawk’s has this almost mystical thinking and looks often to baseball gods. He also breaks things into categories, often psychological ones. There are two kinds of this and two kinds of that. I can imagine Stoney’s eyes wanting to roll in their sockets when Hawk gets onto one of his brilliant dichotomies. My favorite Hawk, though. is when the bad guys hit a HR. The longer the better, because he just shuts up. You hear the bat, the noise or lack of noise from the crowd, and if you know Hawk you know, HR. The White Sox organization would do a lot better without Hawk. Chicago has baseball fans from around the country and they painfully watch the games when their home teams are visiting but that’s it. They watch Cubs games if they just want baseball.

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  58. JoeP says:

    As a lifelong White Sox fan who started watching games in the days of Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall in the booth (shameless homers), I enjoy listening to Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone. I EXPECT my broadcasters to be unrepentant homers. Hawk’s hawkisms, while definitely hokey, are still funny after all these years. His shorthand is pretty easy to follow, if you’re paying attention to the game.

    Hawk and Steve are a great combination (Steve was a major upgrade over Tom Paciorek and Darrin Jackson). Hawk lives and dies with how the White Sox are playing and keeps the game interesting. I’m VERY surprised these guys scored as low as they did – all the Sox fans I know are Hawk and Steve fans, too.

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