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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.”


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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