With each passing day, it seems more and more likely that Cubs fans are going to lose their calm, assured television analyst, Bob Brenly. Brenly is rumored to be talking to the Brewers about their managerial spot, and even if he doesn't land there, the mustachioed one could fill the need for any one of the usual teams looking for a fresh start in the offseason. Chances are, Bob won't be here much longer.
(editor's note: after the posting of this article, the Brewers named former A's manager Ken Macha as their new skipper. This in no way detracts from the point made in this article. Seriously. It's still spot on. Keep reading.)
Naturally, people are speculating about his replacement. Mark Grace was the first name bandied about. Rick Sutcliffe is another idea, though if the broadcast gods have anything resembling pity for Cubs fans, they'll keep Sutcliffe as far away from the booth as possible.
But neither of those ideas have the pizazz of Paul Sullivan's suggestion today: Move Mr. Cub, Ron Santo, from his customary radio gig and into the loving arms of Len Kasper's play-by-play. Sullivan's reasoning is what one could politely call "thin"; despite admitting that Santo's groans and weird noises are a detriment to the broadcast -- and that Santo is an incredible homer -- he still wants the old guy to do TV:
But if Santo became the TV color man, the reasons for his groaning (and cheering) would be more apparent because you actually could see what he was getting so excited about.
Though Santo is considered a homer's homer, there's no doubt he wouldn't hesitate to criticize Alfonso Soriano for a defensive lapse, Kosuke Fukudome for one of his spin-o-rama strikeouts or any middle reliever who walks the first man he faces. While it's true he's over-the-top happy when the Cubs are playing well, Santo's disgust with the team is palpable when they're not.
Manager Lou Piniella often reminds us that baseball is entertainment. If so, the most entertaining choice for Brenly's replacement would be "This Old Cub" himself.
We're less concerned with Santo's willingness to criticize the team than his ability to communicate criticism, or, for that matter, anything at all. Despite being a Cub idol, most Cub fans we know can't stand the man's broadcast work. Generously, he's a novelty, something you hear once in a while in the car so you can laugh at this crazy old dude squealing about baseball on the radio. On TV, that novelty would vanish, replaced by the utter strangeness of Santo's baseball thoughts.
This town already has one incoherent homer (Hawk Harrelson) on TV every day. It certainly doesn't need another.