College basketball fans are simultaneously the luckiest and most unfortunate people in the world. On one hand: They have Bill Walton, the former UCLA All-American who takes a break from being the world’s tallest Grateful Dead groupie by broadcasting PAC-12 and Maui Invitational games.
On the other hand: They don’t get to experience over three hours of unfiltered Waltonisms during a meaningless game, which is precisely what happened Friday night during the series opener between the Los Angeles Angels and the Chicago White Sox.
Donning matching tye-dye shirts with play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti, Walton predicted White Sox catcher James McCann’s eighth-inning grand slam, correctly rattled off Graig Nettles’ tenure in the league (22 years) and was .003% away from correctly guessing his career fielding percentage — all while sprinkling in other musings about shapes and colors. Were there references to California points of interest? Did he start the sixth inning with three uninterrupted minutes of reciting Grateful Dead lyrics? Was there an anecdote about Gonzaga head coach Mark Few ending in the punchline “we are all security guards in the game of life?” You bet.
And somewhere along the line, the White Sox won 7-2.
While The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya diligently documented all of the best Waltonisms throughout the night, what follows is a brief overview of the highlights, lowlights and everything in between from Walton’s foray into baseball.
Walton’s pre-game show set the tone for the game
Please put Bill Walton in every single baseball booth ever for the rest of time.— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 17, 2019
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
Bill Walton 'Brings Down The House' with this intro for the ages in his 1st ever baseball broadcast....lol!!! #WhiteSox #MLB #WhiteSoxTwitter #SoxRebuild #LetTheKidsPlay #SouthSideOrDie #SoxNation #108ing pic.twitter.com/TQKlSQKYsC— ͏Sidney Brown (@sidkid80) August 17, 2019
Then he threw the notebook out the window, kicking off another one of his patented, free-form jazz odysseys
Bill Walton: “Trout? He’s good. Did you have the salmon for dinner?”— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 17, 2019
I’m not going to live-tweet everything Bill Walton says, but I’m also not going to *not* do that. pic.twitter.com/dFNLjlOq1g
His trademark over-enthusiasm and zeal for life shone right away, as he yelped for routine plays
This is the most lit broadcast ever. We're screaming after foul balls. pic.twitter.com/YOnZgHd2Jl— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) August 17, 2019
Bill Walton commentating on a routine pop out to left is a delight. pic.twitter.com/1hGygPDZHt— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 17, 2019
No one was more ready to celebrate a ground ball single in the history of baseball than Bill Walton was in these thirty seconds pic.twitter.com/UzY7prDorQ— Gupp Fludgemann (@ZacHorton) August 17, 2019
He then got into the nitty-gritty, even proposing radical changes such as allowing the fourth out of every inning to “roll over” to the next frame
Bill Walton discusses changeups. pic.twitter.com/KVM4XNDHDG— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 17, 2019
Bill Walton explains how to avoid a tag pic.twitter.com/8S75uddKvi— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 17, 2019
In the fourth, Walton even believed Yolmer Sanchez deserved a contract extension after executing a successful safety squeeze
Sure, there were some hiccups along the way...
“Go Angels!” Bill Walton yells as the White Sox score their first run.— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 17, 2019
...but once Mike Trout and James McCann went yard, Walton was playing the hits
Bill Walton enjoys a Mike Trout home run.— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 17, 2019
“That’s Trout? Swimming upstream, avoiding all the flies, and sending one ricocheting through the universe." pic.twitter.com/PlcwPIBT3A
He even got to give a postgame interview
"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
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was that it took six innings for Walton to reference Woodstock, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Friday.
If we’re honest with ourselves, Walton should stop focusing on dull, 58-55 Arizona-Utah games and give color commentary to everything.