O'Donnell: Movin' on up with Jason Benetti, Bill Cullen and Boston's Bruins
GETTING THE NEW SUNDAY PLAYHOUSE started:
Jason Benetti -- the 35-year-old White Sox TV play-by-play man -- is an extraordinarily bright young fellow (with a law degree).
But he probably could have left even "Jeopardy!" James Holzhauer dazzled during a recent national interview when he referenced mythic game-show host Bill Cullen among myriad career and life influences.
Cullen -- for those not familiar with the pop cultural catacombs of the Eisenhower-JFK years -- was a seminal American TV personality who was never shown walking on camera because of residual effects from a childhood battle with polio.
In the end, he hosted no fewer than 23 network game shows, the most famous being the original NBC/ABC run of "The Price is Right."
"He walked with a limp," said Benetti, who seems to hope the day will come when any unnecessary public note of his cerebral palsy will vaporize.
"So they brought contestants to him for any bonus rounds because so much of it is about perception and judgment.
"I don't want anybody to think things they don't have to think. People with 'CP' have brains and they're able to do a lot of things."
To frame Benetti's intellectual quest, Cullen, age 70, died in 1990. Benetti was born in 1983.
With his talent and determination, Sox fans better enjoy him while they can.
THE BRILLIANCE EXTENDED from rink to HDTV screen the other night when the Boston Bruins closed out a 4-0 sweep of Carolina in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 4-0 victory.
If the Bruins don't win the Stanley Cup, it's a crime against excellence. And NBC Sports has kept synchronized golden standards.
On ice, goalie Tuukka Rask -- with a .956 save percentage in the postseason -- appeared about as flappable as a Finn on cross-country skis.
Hub A-line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak accounted for all four goals and played both ends as if the spirit of prime-time Bobby Orr was driving their skates.
As for NBC, Doc Emrick was Doc Emrick and analyst Mike Milbury was good Mike Milbury.
The Peacock studio panel of Patrick Sharp -- bless 'im -- Keith Jones and Liam McHugh was no frills, no Kewpie and just marvelously informative hockey experts.
The Bruins are now poised to complete a rare civic triple vs. the winner of the St. Louis-San Jose WC sweepstakes (Game 5, NBC-5, Sunday, 2 p.m.):
A World Series championship (Red Sox), an NFL crown (Patriots) and a Stanley Cup in the same sports cycle.
That hasn't been done since 1935-36 when the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings combined to bring the most charmed hood bonnets to Detroit.
STREET-BEATIN': Was that John Daly playing John Candy playing John Daly at The PGA?; All Daly needed to complete his trailer-putt trinketry was Rodney Dangerfield's boom bag from "Caddyshack." … Speaking of Bethpage Black, Nick Faldo of CBS called it correctly over a week ago when he told select media, "The PGA loves birdies."… "Pee-wee" Ken Rosenthal is reportedly set to disclose that Madison Bumgarner's no-trade list has been extended to include China, Comcast and BTS, the South Korean boy band that recently sold out two shows at Soldier Field. … The great Marv Albert has a year to run on his Turner/NBA contract, meaning Kevin Harlan will spend at least one more season as the web's No. 1 voice-in-waiting; Albert, 77, was the game's most electric announcer even before the Edison-Westinghouse "War of Currents" was settled. … Multiple industry insiders are insisting ESPN-HQ/Bristol is weighing a plan to ashcan almost all local programming on flailing AM-1000. (Bore-lingual national Dan Le Batard would really elevate the Chicago market's audio aesthetic.) … Management at WSCR-AM (670) must have found an unlocked storage bin at The Field Museum of Unnatural History this week when they wheezed out the self-entertaining Terry Boers as a fill-in poltroon; "King Leer" made Dan McNeil sound like Lester Holt. … After 65 years as head coach of the Arlington Heights American Legion team -- 65! -- venerable Lloyd Meyer says he's calling it quits. "It's not about health, it's about the lack of numbers (quality players)," according to "The Milk Man," 87, who has sent such disparate types as the late Paul Splittorff, Dave Kingman and former Yankees senior VP of baseball ops Mark Newman to the majors. … Prodigious Dominick Rivelli -- age 15 and an honors student at Highland Park High School -- has verbally committed to play hockey at Miami of Ohio, Rivelli is the son of top Chicago thoroughbred trainer Larry "High Strike" Rivelli and counts Denis Savard as a key mentor. … Also ovaling, Dave Zenner -- long one of the most dedicated press row overseers in Chicago sports -- is joining fellow Arlington Park expatriate Michael Wrona at the revamped Arizona Downs this summer; the AP media vertical has never recovered from Zenner's departure. … For those who want to get their Christmas betting done early, one L-Vegan concern has the Bears up as 1-point favorites over visiting Kansas City Sunday, Dec. 22. … And New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, on what landing Zion Williamson will mean to his team's national exposure, told inquirers: "It means all of our 10:30 games are now at 7 p.m."