CHICAGO (CBS) — White Sox play-by-play man Jason Benetti is playing the waiting game like everyone else, and he has certainly missed calling games.
CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke talked with Benetti about what he thinks of a plan for baseball being played in empty stadiums.
“What I miss most is number one, just being around the people – like, with a team, you get to know the guys so well, and you get to know the players and the TV crew – I mean, just our ability to build something on a nightly basis for Sox fans, but also just the idea that baseball every day brings something new, and kind of the mundane we’re living doesn’t bring a whole lot new on a daily basis, so I think the appreciation of baseball for a lot of people has skyrocketed,” Benetti said.
Mawicke noted that many fans are listening to Benetti more than ever and relying on him because there are no games for now, so he’ll be it for a lot of people if games do start up again.
“There’s something really healing to the heart about seeing the game be played. It may not be the same to some people without fans in the stands. However, it’s about where your heart is – to know that we are able to bring people together who are lonely is the best thing we can do outside of being on the front lines like our medical workers and the grocery people are right now,” Benetti said.
So how do the players feel about it all? Are they anxious to get back to the field, or concerned about being separated from their families?
“There’s that push and pull. I mean, players want to play, and they want to make sure they’re doing what their bodies were trained to do – trying to find that sweet spot where people can be with their families and their loved ones and whoever that is to them, while also doing what they love to do, but they both probably have to happen in order for it to be harmony,” Benetti said.
The bottom line, Benetti said, is: “I just want fun. I miss fun. I miss fun at the ballpark.”
He noted the group bond that is palpable among the White Sox players, starting right with Spring Training.
“I actually really hope we play, because the personalities in that clubhouse can do so much to bring joy to the city of Chicago,” Benetti said.
CBS Sports reported Sunday that Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times said MLB’s “preferred plan” would be to start play in late June or early July with as many teams as possible in their home parks. They would compete in their regular divisions under an abbreviated schedule of at least 80 games.
Also on the table has been a plan where players and staff would live and play in a “colonized bubble” in Arizona, and one where all teams would play at Spring Training sites and compete in Cactus and Grapefruit leagues – but those have been deemed “much less likely,” Topkin reported.
Reports about teams being assigned to “hub” sites in Arizona, Texas, and Florida, or realigned into geographical divisions, are being “downplayed or dismissed,” Topkin reported. The geographical division plan would separate teams into three divisions and put the Cubs and the White Sox in the same league.
If that plan did go ahead, Benetti said it would be “really fun.”
But no matter what plan goes ahead, if any, for the 2020 season, there are several issues that MLB must address first – including having contingency plans, CBS Sports reported.