Dylan Cease (L) and Jason Benetti. Dylan Cease (L) and Jason Benetti. (Photos from Orlando Ramirez and Kirby Lee, USA Today Sports.)

Some of the best conversations between sports people are about things well beyond sports. The latest example of that comes from San Diego Padres’ pitcher Dylan Cease’s comments to FanGraphs’ David Laurila about his past conversations with play-by-play voice Jason Benetti while Cease was playing for the Chicago White Sox and Benetti was calling their games locally. As part of a larger conversation about players’ relationships with broadcasters, in both the minor leagues and the major leagues, Cease dropped some remarkable quotes about discussing art museums with Benetti.

“I was fortunate in Chicago,” said Cease. “I think Jason Benetti is one of the best in the game. I got to be around him for a couple years and it was cool to build a relationship with him. Of course, the guys here in San Diego are obviously great as well. There is a reason why fans like them, and we like them for much the same reasons. They have certain personality traits or are just likable guys.”

My asking what types of conversations he had with the now-TV voice of the Detroit Tigers segued into yet another off-the-beaten-path topic.

“A lot of non-baseball stuff, honestly,” said Cease. “Jason knows that I like art, so we would talk about art museums in certain cities, or maybe what I was working on (Cease has been painting, primarily with acrylics, in recent years). Things like that. He always showed interest in me outside of baseball, which was cool.”

Cease visits museums when he travels to various cities. New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are among his favorites So too is the Art Institute of Chicago, which he has visited with former teammate Lucas Giolito. Cease enjoys a variety of genres, and as is the case for most museum-goers, his appreciation for individual works and artists tends to be visceral.

“I’m not into French Impressionism as much as, say, modern abstract,” explained Cease. “That’s one that I like, but I wouldn’t say I’m pigeonholed into one genre. I’ll see something and be, ‘Man, I really like that,’ or maybe it’s, ‘I think that’s a little overrated.’ I guess that’s just like any of us when it comes to art.”

Some particular artists that Cease appreciates are detailed in that full piece from Laurila, as are his thoughts on the “closer-knit” relationship with broadcasters in the minor leagues compared to the majors. But that discussion of talking about art museums with Benetti is particularly great. And that maybe helps illustrate some of what has made Benetti a beloved broadcaster.

Benetti’s move from the White Sox to the Detroit Tigers this MLB offseason attracted an incredible amount of attention. And it drew complaints from many local fans, and criticism for team executives, on a level more often seen when prominent players leave town. And it’s led to a very tough act to follow  (especially in a year where the team is struggling) for successor John Schriffen.

And a lot of that is about what Benetti’s able to do as a broadcaster. In work with everyone from Bill Walton to Steve Stone, and on broadcasts both local and national, and on sports from football to basketball to baseball, Benetti has shown off a remarkable ability to connect with broadcast partners, athletes, and fans. And that includes connecting with people on overlapping interests, such as art with Cease. Now, if only the two of them can start up a podcast reviewing art museums…


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.