As last season came to a close, Steve Stone revealed in vague terms what many of us detected: Something was amiss in the broadcast booth. Over the next 10 days, Stone suggested that he might not return to work with Hawk Harrelson in 2013, until a conversation with Jerry Reinsdorf put him in the right frame of mind.
Both Stone and Brooks Boyer vowed that this season's broadcasts would improve, but Harrelson's input had been missing until Saturday.
Harrelson joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner on WMVP's "Talking Baseball" show, and gave a general description of the deterioration and rebuilding of his relationship with Stone:
Well, there was a problem last year. The first two years were just terrific, '09 and '10. I loved it. It reminded me a lot of when I worked with [Don] Drysdale. And then in '11, just ... something was wrong. Something was wrong in there. And then this past season, something was wrong, and we talked about it during the course of the season.
But we had a big meeting at SoxFest. Jerry [Reinsdorf] was there. Brooks [Boyer] was there. Bob Grim was there. And we got it all out on the table, and when we walked out of that meeting, I felt great, and Steve did, too. Everything's going to be fine between Steve and myself. We've always had a terrific relationship. The last year and a half, it was not as good as it had been in the past, but I think now it's right back where it should be, because there was some problems, and Bruce, you know me -- if there's something out there that I'm not easy with, I'm going to get it out. And we did. We got it out, and we talked it over, and we'll get back to where we were in 2009 and '10.
Levine shared something Tom Paciorek told him -- over the course of a season, you're going to have times where you get tired of the person sitting next to you for 200 days. Harrelson said Paciorek was an exception, because over the 10 years they worked together, they only had one argument, and it was about golf.
Harrelson continued to say that he's enjoyed working with all his partners over his 37 years in broadcasting, and added one more Stone-specific thought:
I think last year was probably one that gave me a little more angst, because Steve and I had such a good relationship. Now, it is back, and I can say that I think, with confidence, it's back, and the end result will be the fans will enjoy what they saw before.
If nothing else, these votes of confidence give us a reason to stay tuned in during brutal White Sox losses, because I imagine that's where we'll hear the biggest difference, if there is any. While everybody involved has been short on specifics, I took a lot from Stone praising Mike Huff for his willingness to hold conversations during one of the most frustrating losses of the year.
Some might consider the silence in the broadcast booth a selling point, but for me, last year's brand was too uneasy to enjoy.