DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, U.S. Navy/Released
After waffling on the topic over the previous two weeks, the White Sox analyst confirmed he will return to the booth alongside Hawk Harrelson in 2013.
By now, I'm beginning to think Steve Stone took part in a three-act play as a unity-building project for 670 The Score's weekday lineup. Let's review:
On The Boers and Bernstein Show on Sept. 28, Stone couldn't give Dan Bernstein a direct answer when asked about his future. He wanted a job in baseball, and he liked broadcasting, but wouldn't say if he would continue to do both for the White Sox, even though he was under contract.
On The McNeil and Spiegel Show on Oct. 4, Stone wouldn't allow Matt Spiegel to say he would be back next year, opting for the vaguely phrased, "I want baseball and broadcasting to be part of my life..."
But on The Mully and Hanley Show on Tuesday morning, Stone put an end to the saga:
My plans are very simple. I plan to stay with the Chicago White Sox through this contract and hopefully beyond. That's regardless of what you might have read, or heard, or people speculated on, or blogged*, or anything else. I will be back. It's 100 percent.
What caused him to choose?
Yesterday I decided to give Jerry [Reinsdorf] a call, because I started reading more and more on these blogs*, and more and more on the speculation about where things would fall and who would go where, and you just don't want to wait after the fact to make a decision this important. And I also wanted to show Jerry -- because he's the man who brought me back into the major leagues as far as broadcasting is concerned -- and I wanted to show him that loyalty goes both ways.
You can listen to the Stone's segment here. He's on for a half hour, but the part involving his future with the club starts at 22:50:
The most interesting part to me is Stone's last soliloquy of the interview, the theme of which is improvement. He stresses the desire to improve, he says there will be a "number of conversations" between Stone, Harrelson and the broadcast crew, and he closes by guaranteeing a more enjoyable broadcast ("We will get better," although he did follow it immediately with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek disclaimer about the quality of ball affecting one's enjoyment).
I can't say I have any special insight, but it sounds like Stone inadvertently became the champion of the viewer. It was kind of a chore to listen to White Sox broadcasts over the final few weeks, and apparently Stone didn't have much fun, either. He couldn't pin it all on the Sox's flatness, because he had a genial, on-topic back-and-forth with Mike Huff during what might have been the Sox's worst loss of the stretch. He didn't need blog comments or radio hosts to tell him about the silence, because he had the proof. When Huff stepped in, the Sox swapped out a variable (half the booth), applied it to a constant (lackluster stretch-drive loss), and it yielded a considerably different result. Science!
Perhaps those end-of-season broadcasts burned him out, and he couldn't immediately talk himself into signing up for it next year. Perhaps he wanted the radio shows, media and blogs to talk about it so he could make a greater point to his bosses. Either way, I'd love to drop in on these "conversations" before the start of next season, because I'm very curious as to whether Harrelson shares the same perspective. Or maybe The Score can sign up Harrelson for a talk show tour next. That interview might need four parts.