With Steve Stone absent from the broadcast booth this weekend in Anaheim, Jason Benetti has gotten creative to fill the void. On Thursday night, he flew solo and had a variety of guests from players to the players’ relatives joining him throughout. Then, things shifted to the Bill Walton show on Friday night in one of the wildest and most memorable baseball broadcasts in recent memory, perhaps of all-time. Saturday’s guest was television producer, writer, and actor Ken Tremendous who’s known for his work with NBC’s Parks and Recreation and The Office. As you can see, it was a pretty packed lineup heading into Sunday, which is where we now shift our attention to.
Long-time White Sox fan Mike O’Brien will be sitting in the color commentator’s chair to round out the weekend. O’Brien is an actor, writer, and comedian known for his writing and short films on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. He is also the creator of the comedy series, A.P. Bio, which will be going into its third season with the network. We were lucky enough to catch up with the Chicago native ahead of Sunday’s game to ask him 10 questions about his White Sox fandom.
To start things off, when and how did you become a White Sox fan?
Well, I was a “fan” as a kid as you’ll see from the pic, but only cause my whole extended family on both sides are South Siders. But we’d moved to Michigan, so I was also aware of the Tigers in ’84. But all of this was just clothing and McDonald’s plastic cups. We didn’t watch baseball much growing up. So I got to be an everyday Sox fan when I moved to Chicago after college, and started going to a lot of games. That was 1999 and I was 23 years old.
If you had to choose, who is your all-time favorite White Sox player, and why?
That’s so hard. My finalists are Crede, Buehrle, Magglio, Alexei, Konerko and Abreu. But maybe I’ll give the title to Buehrle cause he used to slide on the rain delay tarps.
What is your favorite White Sox-related memory?
When they won in ’05, me and a bunch of my comedy friends celebrated at the corner of Clark and Addison (a few blocks from my apartment… wouldn’t have gone out of the way to rub it in).
How did the idea for Sunday’s broadcast come about?
100% from Benetti. We have become friends on text through Mike Hall, who bridges the Chicago improv and sportscaster worlds.
Have you done any sort of sports broadcasting in the past?
I haven’t. Is this blog going to come out before Sunday? Will they take this away from me?
Has Jason Benetti or anyone else offered you any advice ahead of Sunday’s game?
I talked to Jason on the phone today for a while and he made me feel very protected. Basically saying to not feel the burden of analyzing the nuances of baseball. I can’t tell the difference between Nova’s cutter and splitter, but I’ve been working on figuring that out. But he’s right– that’s not my job in this case. I’m just going to follow his lead and be a fan. And maybe spot when it’s a cutter…
What are you looking forward to the most in the booth?
Around the 4th or 5th inning when I’m like, oh this is just fun and I get to talk baseball and do bits with my friend.
Do you have any specific words or phrases that you want to try and sneak into your commentary?
I’m hoping to find a chance to say that someone was with a team for “a cup of coffee.”
We can’t talk about a broadcast without bringing up Hawk Harrelson. What was your favorite Hawk moment?
Too many to count. But Tim Robinson and I always quote one time when there was silence for like a minute, then he said, “I love Tommy Bahama.” Then there was silence again. We just do that in a Hawk southern accent sometimes.
To close things out, what are your thoughts on the rebuild and the direction of where this White Sox team is heading?
For the most part, I think it’s completely the right call. Insane talent grabbed at the minor league levels. I agree with Jason and Steve that a few more big acquisitions would put it over the top when the time is right. Me and all my Sox friends are filled with optimism and excitement.
Many thanks to Mike for taking the time to answer our questions! Make sure to tune into Sunday’s game over on WGN. First pitch is scheduled for 3:07 PM CT.
Also, don’t forget to give Mike a follow on Twitter @MikeOBrienXOXO for a lot of great tweets!
Featured Photo: NBC.com/Late Night with Seth Meyers