Why Won’t Teams Call Up Announcers In September?

Randy Wehofer,
underrated voice
of the AAA Iowa Cubs.
Pat and Keith,
share the mike!

There’s nothing worse than a good team announcer gone bad.

I’m not advocating for firing/replacing noted baseball voices.

I’m just saying that it gets difficult watching smart men delude themselves (and us) that also-ran teams are interesting in the final weeks of the season.

Watching Friday’s televised game of the Tigers mauling the White Sox got painful. Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone tried to remain disappointed parents. They had nothing new to say about a lackluster roster. Hopeful but honest? These guys needed some mikeside inspiration.

Here’s the simple fix, one we could help with.

Redirect your letter-writing talents for a moment. Switch from autograph-seeking mode to advocacy. Broadcasters ask for e-mail comments during the game. Here’s one to share…

I’ve written about AAA broadcasters Jason Benetti and Randy Wehofer before. The last week of the season, get them in a major league booth. Instead of tired voices rehashing the could-have-been nature of the season, talk about the hopes awaiting the Nationals or Cubs in the minors for 2014.

Give them an inning!

Of course, a team battling for a pennant the last week of the season is going to have lots to discuss. Viewers and listeners will be content with the still-enthused broadcasters telling the still-suspenseful tale of a contending club.

That’s not the majority of MLB teams, however. Get these deserving minor league announcers a “cup of coffee” now. The exposure could be career-changing.

Hey, Washington Nationals! Broadcaster Jason Benetti Deserves A Call-Up, Too!

Benetti Interviewed Syracuse manager
Tony Beasley in this 2012 feature
available on YouTube.

The Syracuse Chiefs have been a high-profile AAA team, since the heralded debuts of talents like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. One of the first to tell their stories was the team’s broadcaster, Jason Benetti.

In 2013, the media turned its attention to Benetti. The stories highlighted the fact that the team’s voice does his job, despite cerebral palsy. The Washington Post and CNN were just two national outlets to cheer on the commentator.

I checked out Benetti’s calls on the team website. Syracuse has been a baseball leader in internet game broadcasts. He’s a passionate, talented announcer who knows and respects the game.

Who else knows? I contacted Benetti, receiving this update in return:

Q: What’s your baseball background?

A: I spent two seasons in the Carolina League with the Advanced-A Salem club.  Before that, I called a year of independent ball with the Windy City ThunderBolts.

Q: With such national recognition, I’m sure your autograph requests will grow. Have you been depicted in any team sets?

A: Never had a card.

Q: How do you feel about autograph collectors?
A: I’ve had some kids ask me to sign baseballs.  I generally ask them if they really want me to sign.  If they respond affirmatively, I then let them know the tragic effects my signature will have on the ball’s value.  Then, I sign it.  
I’d be absolutely happy to sign something someone would send.  Especially if it’s edible and I don’t have to return it.  🙂
Q: More people should hear you in action. Suggestions?
A: The multimedia page of www.syracusechiefs.com is where you can find live coverage of all of our games.  Thanks for asking.

I like this 2010 feature about Benetti by Tom Leo, too. I hope you will, too.

Sept. 1 was roster expansion throughout the majors. I’d like to see teams like Washington promote guys like Jason Benetti. Talent isn’t limited to the field.

On this Labor Day, I must say it. This career is a labor of love. Jason Benetti’s is one broadcast I’ll stay tuned for.

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