Bill Walton calling a White Sox game was AMAZING
Bill Walton is an accomplished NBA legend, to say the least. He's in a tiny fraternity of basketball players to ever win NCAA and NBA championships, having done so with the UCLA Bruins and the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics, respectively.
He's also known to pop up at Grateful Dead-related events, including theme nights at the ballpark (he's a regular at Giants games at Oracle Park) and actual Dead and Company gigs, where Bob Weir and his jam band legends bring the music of the Dead back to life to packed stadiums of devoted Dead Heads like Walton.
On Friday, Walton stepped up to add a new voice to the NBC Sports Chicago booth as a color commentator alongside play-by-play man Jason Benetti for the White Sox game against the Angels in Anaheim. On paper, this sounded like a weird melding of worlds, as Walton's primarily known for his basketball commentary. However, this weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock 1969, which is very much Walton's brand. And, to the surprise of no one, he made this experience all his own ... before the game even began. Listen to this description of a home run (I think that's what this is, at least):
THIS IS REAL LIFE pic.twitter.com/87ITex8TVW— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) August 17, 2019
There's nothing witty to say about this next clip. It's just indescribable.
He just wouldn't stop talking, which is great for everyone. When asked what went through his mind as this foray into baseball broadcasting approached, he had plenty more to say -- much more than a cliche such as "Oh yeah, I was really looking forward to it, it's exciting," blah blah and so on.
No, Bill Walton has thoughts that are really abstract concepts he tries to pull out of the heavens above and form into coherent thoughts:
Bill Walton is a National Treasure... but sometimes you have to play the outro music just to get him to stop speaking 😂 pic.twitter.com/w9AgfuHLsT— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) August 17, 2019
This is a legendary broadcast, and neither of the clips above are from the actual game itself.
Walton's adventure began with a pep talk in the White Sox clubhouse, naturally:
When the game began, Walton accentuated routine foul balls with loud screams of excitement, because why not?
Routine fly balls? Magic time.
Bill Walton commentating on a routine pop out to left is a delight. 😂 pic.twitter.com/1hGygPDZHt— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 17, 2019
Replay review? How about reenactments instead?
Who needs replay reviews when you can have reenactments instead? pic.twitter.com/4MtxUS2jTX— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) August 17, 2019
As the game progressed, Walton asked some real questions.
Bill Walton on Mike Trout: “Why doesn’t he bat all the time?"— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 17, 2019
Bill Walton: “They call them runs, correct?"— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 17, 2019
Bunts? Yes, Walton's in favor of them.
Bill on bunts: "BRILLIANT" pic.twitter.com/ISYVSLQ8Iq— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 17, 2019
Wowed by Lucas Giolito racking up strikeouts, Walton pondered something ...
"What is the record for the most strikeouts in a single inning?" - Bill pic.twitter.com/9E9EYInjWQ— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 17, 2019
And then Statcast caught his eye:
When Mike Trout sent a baseball "ricocheting through the universe," Bill turned to poetry:
In the eighth inning, White Sox catcher James McCann hit a grand slam, and the sequence was one for the ages:
Walton's occasional meanderings about the Rolling Stones, John Fogerty and Neil Young tended to be interrupted by action on the field, such as a double down the left-field line, but his breathless enthusiasm would soon take hold as he shouted excitedly on the broadcast.
And then stuff like this happened:
"Woodstock. 50 years. '79. Full moon. Waterfall. Exploding volcanoes. Baseball. White Sox. Angels. Summertime. No rain on the horizon. Greg Gumbel. Sam Smith. David Axelrod. Wow."— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) August 17, 2019
This is a real quote from Bill Walton tonight.
This next tweet is pretty much the encapsulation of how the night went, time and time again.
We have no idea what this was in reference to.— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) August 17, 2019
By the time the game ended, Chicago had won, 7-2.
Unreal. pic.twitter.com/I7n23jjal6— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) August 17, 2019
McCann, interviewed on the field after the game, had to field questions from a curious Walton about his eye black routine:
"What does that black stuff on your eyes do for you?" Bill Walton, asking the hard hitting questions pic.twitter.com/m7b7KE5nHf— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) August 17, 2019
Before some thank-yous were exchanged in the booth as a sign-off.
"I apologize on behalf of the human race for destroying your broadcast tonight."— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) August 17, 2019
You didn't ruin it, Bill. You made our year. pic.twitter.com/piEDysFdga
What a night. This was the greatest idea in the history of great ideas. Well done, everybody.