White Sox-Bill Walton Offbeat TV Booth Experiment Well Received
The White Sox' one-game experiment Friday of bringing Basketball HOFer Bill Walton into their TV booth alongside play-by-play man Jason Benetti was a "huge success," according to Paul Sullivan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Walton was the "No. 1 trending topic on Twitter" during White Sox-Angels on Friday night. The White Sox "got the attention they craved, which was the point of inserting a weird celebrity into the TV booth" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/19). YAHOO SPORTS' Mark Townsend wrote thanks to Walton, what "would have been just another Friday night game in MLB was not only the talk of baseball, but the talk of all social media." There was "no actual baseball analysis," as Walton was just "delivering one philosophical musing after another." Even after nine innings, it "felt like we’d not yet scratched the outer surface of Walton’s mind" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/17).
LIKE NO ONE ELSE: In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal wrote the one-time pairing of Walton and Benetti "was a rush." The "weird energy and wild tangents more than lived up to the pregame buzz." It seems that no one "was more excited about Walton working the baseball game than Walton." Additionally, no one "was less concerned with his lack of expertise, either" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/19). Also in Chicago, Dan Santaromita noted after Mike Trout hit a home run, Walton "compared him to a fish." He said, "That’s Trout? Swimming upstream, avoiding all the flies and sending one ricocheting through the universe." Walton "didn’t stop the weird fun once the game started," and there were "plenty of Grateful Dead and Woodstock references on the broadcast" (NBCSPORTSCHICAGO.com, 8/17). The fact that it "was 70s Weekend and Tie Dye T-Shirt night at Angel Stadium" made Walton's booth appearance "even all the more surreal" (AP, 8/17).
BENETTI USES HIS VOICE: In Chicago, Marie Wilson wrote Benetti through his "Awkward Moments" video campaign for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation is a "voice of reason and of humor, a narrator explaining the false assumptions and misperceptions he's encountered during uncomfortable exchanges in his own life." He said that cerebral palsy "affects him less than it does many others, who might use wheelchairs to get around or assistive technology to communicate." One thing Benetti "wants to say is that awkward misunderstandings permeate life for all with disabilities, no matter their differences" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 8/18).
TWITTER REAX: The White Sox tweeted, "August 16, 2019 will forever be known as the 'Bill Walton Game.'" CNN's David Axelrod: "What better way to mark the 50th annivesary of Woodstock than to watch the always colorful @BillWalton do color commentary? ... Not many baseball insights but deep lessons for life!" Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt: "We need more Bill Walton level enthusiasm in our everyday lives." ESPN's Pat McAfee: "This man is my hero in the 'analyst' world. Hilarious, inspirational, and wildly insightful." NBC Sports Chicago: "Walton is a National Treasure... but sometimes you have to play the outro music just to get him to stop speaking." MLB's Cut4 account: "Please put Bill Walton in every single baseball booth ever for the rest of time." MLB.com's Whitney McIntosh: "I hope this *never ends.*"