CHICAGO — With all due respect to Cosmo Kramer of "Seinfeld" fame, the two weeks leading into the scheduled White Sox Opening Day against the Royals on March 26 were supposed to be Jason Benetti’s busy time.
“The day I was leaving for Arizona, on Thursday of last week [March 12], that Wednesday into Thursday was my last day at home until the season started,” Benetti told MLB.com during a phone conversation on Monday night.
Benetti, who also does exceptional work calling college football and basketball for ESPN, explained that upcoming schedule in great detail. It all has been shut down due to great concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
We will smile and laugh again over a game soon, and boy does that sound joyous.
For now, please use your heart to take care of yourselves and those around you. We need each other. Always have, always will.
— Jason Benetti (@jasonbenetti) March 13, 2020
“As we talk, this is Monday, I have not actually left my place. I have been 100 percent indoors since Wednesday. I am a social distancing champion right now,” Benetti said. “It’s some combination of 'The Terminal' and 'Cast Away' that I’m living right now.
“I was going to fly to Arizona [to] do Sox Friday [March 13 against the Cubs]. Saturday fly to South Bend to do Notre Dame lacrosse against Michigan on Selection Sunday. I have two friends, Quint Kessenich and Paul Carcaterra, who have been our sideline reporter for football over the past couple of years. They’ve become really good friends, and I’ve done lacrosse in the past, so we wanted to do a lacrosse game together.
“Then drive to Dayton and do the First Four on Westwood One Tuesday and Wednesday, and then drive back to South Bend and do another lacrosse game with Paul and Mike Golic Jr. Then I was going to fly back to Spring Training and do the last four Sox games we had on TV, and then come back with the team and do the opener on the 26th. I didn’t have a day at home until the season. But I am the last person anybody should be worried about right now.”
This 2020 season, whenever it begins, will be Benetti’s fifth as a part of the White Sox television team and second as the full-time play-by-play man alongside analyst Steve Stone. Benetti understands White Sox fans’ excitement for the upcoming season, but he also put forth a pragmatic, thoughtful perspective about sports in relation to what is happening currently.
“I’m thinking about like my parents, and everybody’s parents, and everybody’s grandparents, and people who can’t go out because it’s dangerous for their immune system,” Benetti said. “But I think we’ve all seen the hole, the gaping wide hole, that we have in our lives when sports is gone, even for a short time.
“Rudy Gobert [of the NBA's Utah Jazz] is the pioneer of all these measures that have been taken, all of this shut down after sports, and so once again, sports has become sort of the civic institutional leader in our country, which we can debate the merits of. It’s odd for me to say anything about the Sox season because we don’t know when it’s going to start. It’s sad to know that we can’t go on Day One because this is something Sox fans have been looking forward to for years.
“Think of the first day that we all get to go outside and celebrate just being in the sun, basking in the glow of what we used to do. It’s going to be a national holiday, and baseball, as long as there are games this year, is going to be a part of it.”
Please stay home if there’s any way you can.
— Jason Benetti (@jasonbenetti) March 15, 2020
Benetti also misses March Madness, like countless others, talking about how his dad would pick him up from school and he would go to the Dairy Queen in Homewood, Ill., as their traditional start to the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend. But while sports are temporarily gone, we will have them all again.
“Sports is not gone, and the problem is the hiatus is indefinite,” Benetti said. “But literally every day somebody makes a decision to social distance and create space and not do something that could hurt somebody else, every day you do that, that piles up and could get us to an earlier start date, let alone keep us from more carnage and losing people we love.
“So if you think about it like that as a sports fan, you can in some small way push up Opening Day by making choices, smart medical healthy choices. Maybe that rings true.”