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Play #SoxMath, folks ... you never know what might happen

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Thanks to my 2018 SoxMath title, I got to do some really cool things during the home opener

Additions to the team: Joe (with his proud pops, Steve, far left) celebrated his title by taking a victory lap with Benetti and Stone in the TV booth on Opening Day.

At this year’s SoxFest, I was invited to compete in the first annual SoxMath Championship. And won.

Those who had at least four wins (there were 11 of us) during the 2018 season were invited to play in a preliminary round, during the last series of the year. The SoxMath winner for each of those last three games advanced in the playoffs, and were invited to SoxFest.

I was one of three finalists, and the other two (@jlazowski14 and @WhiteSox_Jack) were stiff competition all year.

At SoxFest, the three of us were asked a long series of questions, far longer than the questions on broadcasts. Those questions led to one answer, and I managed to pull out the win by having the closest answer.

Don’t believe me? Man, I get a headache even watching this replay:

The good news is that the biggest SoxMath victory I’ve ever had resulted in the biggest reward. And mercy, it was a good one.

On the field for the first time since I ran the bases as a kid.

The biggest highlight was the trip to the booth and getting to see a bunch of things that happen behind the scenes. Jason Benetti and Steve Stone are the best commentary duo that this league has to offer, and it was a pleasure to witness them in action.

One of Benetti’s many positive qualities as a play-by-play announcer is his application of analytics to what is going on during games. After seeing his setup, it became easier to understand how he finds some of his talking points. For example, he had live pitch data for both teams open on Baseball Savant. Here is an example, from Carlos Rodón’s start against the Rays on Monday.

I was not surprised, but still quite impressed by Benetti’s multitasking. That guy does everything during broadcasts; the pitch data was just one of many tabs he was keeping track of. With his multiple screens (and tabs on each screen), I was left to wonder how he does not get inundated. On top of it, Jason was paying close attention to his scorecard, updating it after each batter.

As odd as this may sound, watching Benetti gave me similar vibes to watching Michael Kopech pitch live last year. The White Sox really hit a grand slam by hiring him, and the reasons for that go far beyond his creation of SoxMath.

Then there’s Stone, who is an excellent complement to Jason. While Steve is not as focused on the analytics that I have grown to love, he adds a great deal of baseball experience and insight that most commentators simply cannot provide. The combination of an analytics play-by-play announcer and a former player generally works well, thanks to them filling in for what the other lacks. These two pull it off better than any duo I have seen.

It was a bonus having them talk about me after Benetti introduced the SoxMath question for the day. I was not allowed to play this fun game that day, but that does not take away from the visit. Plus, their banter about my disqualification made up for it.

As for the game itself, it was probably the most exciting White Sox game of the season so far. Despite Seattle’s rally after I returned to my seat, the Sox got the victory.

Play SoxMath, folks. You never know what might happen.