I know it's kind of en vogue in this day and age for sports fans to complain about television announcers for their local teams or members of the national networks, but really, here in Chicago we're pretty lucky. For hockey fans it doesn't get much better than Pat Foley and Eddie Olcyk on Blackhawks broadcasts, and Neil Funk and Stacey King are proving to be a pretty entertaining tandem during Bulls games. Still, when it's come to baseball broadcasts in this city over the last decade, we haven't been as lucky.
Which is why I hope Cubs fans are grateful to hear the news that the team has signed Len Kaspar to stay on and continue working with Bob Brenly in the television booth. As was announced on NBC Chicago earlier today, Kaspar signed a contract extension that will keep him here until 2011. Sure, it's not the Jake Peavy trade that Cubs fans are hoping to hear about, but in my opinion it's just as good to hear.
Now I'm a White Sox fan, but I still watch just as many Cubs games as an average Cubs fan, and I enjoy listening to Kasper and Brenly work together. They're informative, funny, and the rapport between the two just makes the game a lot more enjoyable to watch. They also don't hold back criticism of the team when they feel it's warranted. Of course, I could just feel this way because as a White Sox fan, I've had to listen to Hawk Harrelson and Darrin Jackson call games for years. After being imprisoned by those two for so long, I'd probably be just as happy to hear somebody running their nails down a chalkboard for three hours while the new Britney Spears record plays in the background.
The truth is that ever since Harry Caray passed away, and Steve Stone was cast off for telling the truth, Cubs broadcasts hadn't been very easy to listen to before Kasper and Brenly came on board. Sure, Steve Stone was still his normal brilliant self while there, but having to listen to Chip Caray scream as though the Cubs had won the World Series everytime somebody popped up to short made Stone a lot less enjoyable.
Ironically enough, Stone will be spending next season in the White Sox broadcast booth trying to make Hawk a lot more tolerable, and to actually provide analysis of the game being played and keep Hawk from going on 20-minute tangents about playing golf with Ted Williams and Catfish Hunter.
Hopefully his presence there will help the Sox booth sound like the Cubs booth does. Now if only the Cubs would stop making Len and Bob interview the guest conductors during every game, things might be perfect on the north side of town. Though finding a left-handed bat wouldn't hurt either.