Back in October there was some speculation that Steve Stone would leave the White Sox’s broadcast booth for a job with the Diamondbacks, but Stone eventually decided to stay in Chicago and continue to work with Hawk Harrelson even though the duo apparently hasn’t gotten along for a while now.
Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that Harrelson and Stone had a “communication breakdown” for the past two seasons and White Sox executives met with them last week to discuss the situation.
Harrelson told Levine his side of things:
There was a problem last year. The first two years we worked together were terrific. … In 2011 something was wrong. In 2012 something was wrong. We talked about it through the course of the year and finally had the big meeting at Sox Fest. Jerry [Reinsdorf] was there and so was Bob Grimm and Brooks Boyer. We got it all out on the table and worked it all out. When we walked out of the meeting I felt great and so did Steve.
As a Minnesotan and Twins fan I’m supposed to despise Harrelson and the White Sox, but I actually like listening to Harrelson and Stone call games. With that said, they both certainly have … well, let’s call them “strong” personalities, and it’s not shocking that they’d eventually clash with each other considering how often they’ve clashed with various people–co-workers included–over the years.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.