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Does Jim Deshaies Play Guitar?

By bullpenbrian - December 4, 2012 - 2:00 am 2 comments.

Jim Deshaies is replacing Bob Brenly in the Cubs’ broadcast booth.

He’s not who many fans wanted, or was even among those we thought might get the job. In fact, Deshaies wasn’t even mentioned as a candidate until a month into the search. Now he has a 4-year deal with WGN and the Cubs.

I don’t have a real opinion of Deshaies because I’ve never actually heard him during a full broadcast. I don’t recognize his voice and I couldn’t tell you what his face looked like until Monday.

What I do know, however, is Deshaies is highly regarded for his broadcast work, which began with Houston in 1997. That’s plenty of time to build a reputation, and it’s one Astros fans have thought highly of over the past 15 seasons.

Remember Drayton McLane letting Alan Ashby go? Letting JD walk out of the Astros broadcast booth could be Jim Crane’s Ashby, and believe me he doesn’t want that on his permanent record. -Timothy De Block, CrawfishBoxes.com

In March FanGraphs.com rated Deshaies and his former partner in Houston, Bill Brown, as the No.4 broadcast duo in MLB–two spots ahead of Len & Bob. The fact the Cubs went ‘outside’ the organization to hire Deshaies also speaks to his talent.

Deshaies’ broadcast style of dry-wit and solid game analysis has been likened to Brenly’s on-air style. Perhaps his decision to take a new opportunity is similar to Brenly’s as well?

The Astros organization is going through a major upheaval. The team’s posted its two worst regular seasons in consecutive years and is making a move to the American League West in 2013.

One of Deshaies’ three daughters is currently in law school at the University of Illinois, another is a senior in high school; Brenly makes a home in Arizona, wants to retire there and is already loved by the Diamondbacks’ fan base for leading the team to its only World Series championship in 2001.

Maybe the combination of a new chapter in Astros’ baseball and Deshaies’ home life helped spark his decision to head north? Or in both cases, maybe Brenly and Deshaies had their fill of covering 100-loss teams and felt they could be more comfortable professionally elsewhere?

Whatever the reasons, both Brenly and Deshaies publicly stated they expected to return to their respective clubs following the 2012 season. Neither did of course.

As a fan I was particularly interested in the Cubs hiring either Dan Plesac or Doug Glanville as Brenly’s replacement. But that doesn’t mean I won’t give Deshaies a fair shake.

Instead, I’m grateful the Cubs went with an experienced and proven professional. By all accounts Deshaies is no hack. He’s informed, entertaining and best of all, a likeable guy.

“He works hard and brings with and humor and knowledge of the game to the booth every single night, he’s one of the best broadcasters in the country and a fan favorite. People always comment to me just how much they enjoy his work.”       -Bill Brown

Of course it’s going to take some getting used to Deshaies, just as it was with Brenly, but I’m already looking forward to hearing the Cubs’ new broadcast team.

I’m also curious to find out if Deshaies’ is musically talented? Does he play guitar, the drums…anything? Who’s Len going to partner with on stage now that Bob’s history?

Paul Sullivan of the Tribune tweeted Kasper pushed hard for WGN/Cubs to land Deshaies, so there must be a musical connection, right?

Nonetheless, I now introduce to you the “Len & JD Show.”

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Dan Plesac Wants Aboard Cubs Big Blue Train

By bullpenbrian - November 2, 2012 - 12:15 am 2 comments.

Dan Plesac will interview with WGN for the Cubs’ television analyst opening according to Bruce Levine of ESPN 1000.

This is music to my ears. I was totally bummed when MLB Network plucked Plesac away from Comcast SportsNet Chicago after the 2008 season.

I had a real appreciation for Plesac’s opinions and on-air enthusiasm. I loved watching Dan wear his train engineer’s cap and tooting the horn for the ‘Big Blue Train’ as the ’08 Cubs captured the best record in the National League.

Those were good times. Lots of good baseball and lots of good analysis on Chicago’s North Side.

It’s obvious why MLB came calling for Plesac to help launch the league’s new network in January 2009, and no surprise Plesac’s recent 5-year extension with the network likely poses the largest hurdle to him joining Len Kasper in the Cubs’ broadcast booth.

But of all the possible candidates rumored to replace Bob Brenly, I believe Plesac is at the head of the class.

In fact, if the decision were left up to me I’d hire Plesac in an instant. In addition to his television experience (2005-present), he’s smart, honest, opinionated, polished (on and off the air) and has a good sense of humor.

What more could Cubs fans ask for? What more would Cubs fans want?

I’ve also clamored for Doug Glanville to get a look at the position, in large part because he’s a carbon copy of Plesac with but a few exceptions.

I’d be thrilled for either guy to get the gig. But Plesac remains my No.1…Glanville comes in a close second.

I don’t have much of an opinion on the rest of the field. If money isn’t the issue (which is just ridiculous to say!) there are really only two candidates for the job in my opinion–Plesac & Glanville.

I’d be disappointed if WGN and the Cubs went 0-for-2

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Ohio Bobcats Pull Total Cubs Move

By bullpenbrian - October 29, 2012 - 4:30 am 2 comments.

OUB

A collective facepalm for Ohio Bobcat fans this weekend, the likes of which include some recognizable sports names: Bob Brenly, Mike Schmidt, Thom Brennaman, Bulls radio man Chuck Swirsky and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King…and of course Bullpen Brian (Ha!)

More to the point, our Bobcats pulled a total Cubs move on Saturday losing to its long time rival Miami of Ohio 23-20.

Instead of playing for the tie with 9-seconds left in the fourth quarter, the heavily favored Bobcats made a risky decision to play for the win.

With the ball at the Rehawks 7-yard line, and facing one of the worst-ranked defenses in the nation, Ohio figured to have enough time for one last shot at paydirt before settling for a game-tying field goal.

The Bobcats, however, blew both chances in one snap.

On what turned out to be the game’s final play Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton lost track of the clock and took too much time trying to avoid a sack–he also forgot the Bobcats were without any timeouts.

By the time Tettleton was sacked there wasn’t enough time to spike the ball and kick the field goal. Game over, and with it Ohio’s undefeated season.

How Cubs.

Similar to the Cubbies’ woeful ways, the Bobcats have been long-time losers in its football department since the early 1970s. But the hiring of former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich brought a Theo Epstein-esque excitement to Athens in 2005.

The program slowly but surely turned around under Solich with the Bobcats winning a league-best 46-games since 2006, advancing to three-straight bowl appearances and winning its first ever bowl game by defeating Utah State 24-23 in the Idaho Potato Bowl last season.

In fact, the past five seasons have been the best run in the program’s history. And when Ohio jumped out to a (7-0) record this year (including its Week 1 win vs. Penn St.) they popped into the Top25 rankings (No.24) for the first time since 1968.

Then in true Cubs form, Saturday happened and reminded us the Bobcats are still not ready for the big-stage but remain susceptible to its old bumbling ways.

In some fashion it’s a good lesson to learn regarding the turnaround of the Cubs as they rebuild from its 101-loss season.

It’s very possible Cubs fans could witness a long stretch of regular season successes once this rebuild gathers steam. But the true measuring stick will be how the Cubs perform under the pressures of October, when they’re the heavy favorites with a championship on the line.

If the Cubs’ learning curve to reaching a World Series takes a similar path to Ohio football, it seems we’re in for more North Side heart-break. But no one ever said losing habits are easy to break. 

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Bob Brenly Out, Doug Glanville In?

By bullpenbrian - October 18, 2012 - 5:00 am Leave a comment.

Cubs fans have been privy to the exceptional work of Len Kasper & Bob Brenly over the last eight seasons. That’s not as commonplace in baseball as some might believe it to be.

Granted, Brenly wasn’t a favorite analyst of mine out of the gate. He did grow on me and I’m honestly disappointed he won’t be back in the Cubs’ broadcast booth next season—but wishing him all the best wherever he lands.

I’m not shocked, however, Brenly’s leaving Chicago. Here’s what I said in late August:

Post Aug 27: I’m wondering if Brenly wants to come back?

From the outside it seems broadcasting Cubs games is a wonderful gig, Brenly is certainly paid well, but does he want to sit through another three or four losing seasons on the North Side?

Watching the rebuild may not be worth it for a guy like Brenly whose on-air candidness and occasional humor would be welcomed with open arms in markets with competitive teams like Arizona or Los Angeles.

Personally, I’d enjoy if Brenly returns to the Cubs’ booth in 2013 and beyond. But I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if he opts to move elsewhere.

Losing is hard to swallow, even when you’re being paid handsomely to watch.

Nonetheless, now the discussion turns to Brenly’s replacement, and it’s a hugely important decision considering the television broadcast is the main marketing arm of the Cubs…especially coming off a 101-loss season and continuing to sell the idea of longer-term rebuilding plan.

Paul Sullivan of the Tribune lists several possible replacements for Brenly:

  • Mark Grace
  • Rick Sutcliffe
  • Todd Hollandsworth
  • Kerry Wood
  • Steve Stone
  • Eric Karros
  • Gary Matthews
  • Darrin Jackson
  • Steve Lyons.

I understand how beloved Gracie is on the North Side, but I fear his reckless lifestyle would ultimately become a distraction to the organization—same as it did in Arizona.

Kerry Wood is obviously another popular name in the mix, but he has zero broadcasting experience (that I’m aware of) and is the least polished of the early candidates.

I could live with ‘Big Red’ Sutcliffe or the return of Steve Stone. But I’ve always had a soft spot for former-Cub Doug Glanville.

Glanville is smart, articulate, funny and still remains tied to the area as President of GK Alliance, LLC located in the west Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, as well as serving as an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight show since 2010.

There are certain to be other candidates. Heck, it’s likely the Cubs have been narrowing down a short-list for weeks now.

The good news is Kasper is signed through another four season, which is a saving grace in itself. Len’s one of the best TV play-by-play voices in baseball. So regardless of whomever is paired with him, at least we’re promised half the broadcast to be enjoyable.

All said, the announcement of Brenly’s replacement is certain to be one of the biggest offseason additions to the Cubs’ family. But here’s hoping it doesn’t remain the top headline for long.

We know whoever it is the Cubs land as its new television analyst won’t be starting at third base, center field, or shoring-up a leaky starting rotation. That’s the kind of signing we can only hope takes top-billing this winter.

Then again, Brenly’s replacement will be an everyday player in the booth, that someone we’ll want to welcome into our living rooms for those six/seven months out of the year.

Brenly couldn’t have been a better house guest on our flat screens, even if he took some getting used to.

Who knows if we’ll be as lucky to have someone as good as Brenly again?

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Will Bob Brenly Return to Cubs Broadcast Booth?

By bullpenbrian - August 27, 2012 - 12:30 am 4 comments.

Cubs fans are wondering if Bob Brenly will be back in the broadcast both next season. His current deal is set to expire at the end of the regular season.

However, I’m wondering if Brenly wants to come back?

From the outside it seems broadcasting Cubs games is a wonderful gig, Brenly is certainly paid well, but does he want to sit through another three or four losing seasons on the North Side?

Brenly has always been keen to the idea of what it would mean to be part of a Cubs World Series championship–legendary for all parties involved. But the window that opened in 2007 and 2008 to cement Brenly’s place in Cubs championship lore has closed for the foreseeable future.

Watching the rebuild may not be worth it for a guy like Brenly whose on-air candidness and occasional humor would be welcomed with open arms in markets with competitive teams like Arizona or Los Angeles.

Of course, who’s to say Bob doesn’t want to manage again? Houston has an opening, and so too might the Rockies. Brenly’s hometown Indians could be another possibility.

Or is it the Cubs have someone else in mind to be the color commentator? Todd Hollandsworth, Kerry Wood? I’d recommend Doug Glanville.

Brenly has spent eight years covering the Cubs. He’s definitely grown on me as an analyst, and I would assume the rest of the viewing audience.

There are, without debate, far worse broadcasters in major league baseball, which explains why he and Len Kasper are often regarded as one of the best broadcasting duos in the game.

Personally, I’d enjoy if Brenly returns to the Cubs booth in 2013 and beyond. But I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if he opts to move elsewhere.

Losing is hard to swallow, even when you’re being paid handsomely to watch.

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Bob Brenly’s Resume

By bullpenbrian - July 23, 2010 - 12:06 am Leave a comment.

Arizona Diamondbacks
2001: (92-70)…Won World Series against Yankees.
2002: (98-64)…Won division, lost to St. Louis in NLDS.
2003: (84-78)…Finished 3rd in division.
2004: (22-59)…Fired after 3 1/2 seasons (303-262) .536%

Notes:
*Was member of Cubs 1990-91 radio team, partnering with
Harry Caray, Thom Brennaman & Ron Santo.
*Serves as the Cubs television analyst since 2005.
*Attended Ohio University!
*Has a terrific mustache…on par with Mike Ditka’s,
Joel Quenneville’s & Phil Jackson’s cookie dusters!

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