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Sports Saturday

Polling Place: Which Chicago broadcasters are best? Blackhawks’, Bears’ duos get nods

It was sad not to be able to include the late Ed Farmer and his longtime partner, Darrin Jackson, and too soon to include Bulls newcomer Adam Amin and Stacey King.

Chicago Blackhawks Broadcaster Eddie Olczyk, right, with Pat Foley at the United Center, Friday, December 8th, 2017. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times
Chicago Blackhawks Broadcaster Eddie Olczyk, right, with Pat Foley at the United Center, Friday, December 8th, 2017. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

No more long balls going “ka-boom!”

No more “buggy-whipped” dunks, either.

After 29 seasons broadcasting Bulls games, Neil Funk has hung up his press-row credentials. Chicago-area native Adam Amin — all of 33 years old — is his replacement alongside veteran analyst Stacey King with NBC Sports Chicago.

The White Sox, too, are in transition with one of their broadcast teams after the April 1 death of Ed Farmer. “Farmio” gave Sox fans 28 seasons of companionship from the radio booth, the last 11 with analyst Darrin Jackson.

For this week’s “Polling Place” — your home for Sun-Times sports polls on Twitter — we asked voters about their favorite TV and radio duos in town. It was sad not to be able to include Farmer and Jackson, and too soon to include Amin and King.

All the other duos among the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and Sox have been at it a long while.

“Chicago-area folks are very fortunate — all three [TV] broadcast teams are excellent,” @chicagobigd commented about our first of three polls. “This is a very tough choice.”

No one said doing your “Polling Place” duty would be easy. On to the polls:

Poll No. 1: Which TV duo is best?

Upshot: It was nearly an even percentage split across the board, or, as Foley might describe it, “tirty-tree times tree.” But Foley and Olczyk surged to the finish line for an outcome that meets with no argument here. Interesting, though, that the Cubs’ and Sox’ guys performed identically, isn’t it? “Steve Stone is the absolute best,” @TimothyAMcNeil wrote. “And Benetti doesn’t fight him all broadcast.” Sorry, T-Mac, no baseball bragging rights this time.

Poll No. 2: Which radio duo is best?

Upshot: “It is stunning that anyone would consider Joniak a good play-by-play announcer,” wrote @mrhonorama, who, we’re guessing, isn’t Joniak’s agent. The guy must be doing something right, given his and Thayer’s performance here. Or is this more a reflection of the Bears’ — and the NFL’s — popularity? My two cents (yeah, yeah, no one asked): Thayer’s eventual successor better not be another member of the 1985 team.

Poll No. 3: Generally speaking, should local play-by-play announcers be “homers”?

Upshot: @Max_Power10 got right to the point, commenting, “Being a homer is fine. Being a shill isn’t.” @Mattswfc1 fleshed things out a bit more: “To an extent, yes. You want the big moments to be called within a long season by people who are genuinely happy. But not when it’s over-the-top whining or not giving the opposition a fair go at it.” On the whole, though, voters made it clear: If you’re on the mic, you’re one of us.3