Earlier this week, Hawk Harrelson had a rant against umpire Mark Wegner go viral. Hawk got so worked up he started cussin and bleepin and calling out the umpire by his last name. It was a remarkable piece of footage, even by his standards, let’s enjoy it again, shall we?
Well, it seems that Hawk’s raving homerism may have crossed the line this time as both MLB commish Bud Selig and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf pulled the Hawk aside and let him know in no uncertain terms that his glorious tirade wasn’t appreciated. From ESPNChicago.com‘s Bruce Levine…
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf talked to television announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson in the wake of his on-air outburst against umpire Mark Wegner.
“I talked to Bud Selig yesterday,” Harrelson told ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine on Friday morning. “We had a talk. Actually, Bud talked and I listened. If it was a prize fight, they would have stopped it in the first round.
“I also talked to Jerry, and I listened to him as well. That’s all I really have to say.”
Harrelson is an employee of Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN.
Poor Hawk, first he got so worked up he took 16 Advil from the rant, now he’s apparently been lectured by the commish and his team’s boss. But wait, there’s more.
According to White Sox VP Brooks Boyer, this may be the last time you’ll hear Hawk Harrelson spontaneously combust on air…
“I could certainly be wrong but I think this was a good way for him to understand the importance of what’s going on on the field,” Boyer said. “I think moving forward those type of bursts and snaps will be limited if not eliminated.”
“I think even when he looks back at it, he realizes that he snapped,” Boyer said. “It’s one of the great things about Hawk is that he is a polarizing broadcaster. He’s like Notre Dame, you love it or you don’t. That’s how he kind of fits on the radar. And when that day comes when Hawk hangs it up I think the thing we will miss the most is the homerism of his calls and how much he cares about the White Sox.”
Now, we’ve been critical of Hawk’s extreme homerism numerous times before (usually when he goes silent for opposition walkoffs), but I’m going to defend him in this case. Hawk Harrelson isn’t an employee of the White Sox or Major League Baseball, so do they have any business telling him how to do his job? It’s unclear here, but it could be a situation like what happened across town when Steve Stone stepped down from his role calling Cubs games for WGN. Although Stone was a WGN employee, the Cubs had final say over their broadcasters. After being a bit too critical for the team’s liking, and a meeting with the Cubs president and manager, Stone left. Ironically, Stone now calls Chi Sox games with Hawk Harrelson for WGN.
(Why Bud Selig needs to get involved with a local announcer instead of fixing what really ails his sport is another matter worth criticism in its entirety.)
Videos like what happened earlier this week are what has made Hawk Harrelson who he is as the voice of the White Sox. Did he go a step or two over the line? Sure! But let’s get real, he’s never been or is going to be Vin Scully or Bob Costas.
It’s not like his angry evisceration of Mark Wegner was his first against an umpire, either, so this seems a little heavy handed. The idea of team executives strongarming broadcasters is another idea I’m not too comfortable with, especially if they aren’t direct employees of the organization. To try and say we’re going to get a kindler, gentler Hawk Harrelson from now forward is a disservice to the announcer he’s been his whole life. Can you picture Hawk Harrelson trying to announce a game without doing these crazy things or trying to hold back what he’s really feeling? His style may be grating and unprofessional to many, but at least it’s authentic. He truly cares about the White Sox, and that authenticity and genuineness on air is often lacking these days.
Regardless of the exact relationship between Harrelson, WGN/CSN, and the White Sox, it’s hypocritcal of the team to endorse and support Hawk Harrelson as a broadcaster and then be shocked and disappointed when he goes and knocks a few buildings down.