Kasper: Cubs vs. Sox an ‘interesting’ rivalry
Q. With the Cubs and White Sox renewing their rivalry on the South Side this week, the Cubs have been reduced to playing spoiler. Do you think Cubs fans take as much joy in seeing the White Sox lose as Sox fans seem to do with the Cubs?
A. Not really, no. Going back to 2005, I don't remember a ton of Cub fans actively rooting against the White Sox in the playoffs. Now, that doesn't mean Cub fans go out of their way to wish the Sox well, but Cub fans care so much about their team that what the Sox are doing doesn't seem to be on their radar very much. And while I can't speak for Sox fans, I would imagine the Cubs' popularity, not just in Chicago but also around the country, probably gets under their skin at times, creating a "Hey, what about us?" mentality. I completely get it. It does make for an interesting rivalry and a hostile "road" environment for the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field.
Q. Rudy Jaramillo has been long considered one of the best hitting coaches in the game, but the Cubs didn't flourish under his tutelage. Who was to blame for his demise as the Cubs hitting coach?
A. First off, I don't think Rudy forgot what made him successful once he got to Chicago. Instead, he inherited a very aggressive, and at times undisciplined, group of hitters. The Cubs are trying to instill a more patient approach in terms of grinding out at-bats and waiting for that perfect pitch to drive with authority, and I believe they merely wanted to tweak the message or at least the way it was being delivered. It's unfair to make Rudy overhaul his long-successful coaching methods, so it just came down him not being the right fit for the Cubs' new philosophy on hitting. He will be back working in big leagues soon, no doubt.
Q. You just saw the Tigers and Red Sox, two AL teams off to slow starts. Do you think either or both can get back in the race?
A. Detroit has a better chance because the AL Central isn't nearly as good as the AL East. A key for the Tigers is Doug Fister, who was terrific last year after coming over from Seattle, but has been on the DL twice already this season. I do think the White Sox can hang with them, but it's way too early to say they are out of it. The Red Sox, on the other hand, play in the top-heavy AL East. They not only are looking up at the Yankees and Rays, but also the surprising Orioles, who have beaten Boston six times in nine games. The Red Sox still have a ton of talent on their roster, particularly on the offensive side, but they cannot afford to languish under .500 for much longer.
Q. Your interviews with John Popper and Jeff Garlin last week were interesting, to say the least. How/when do you decide how long to go with your booth guests?
A. It's pretty simple really. We love former players and Cubs fans the most. The entertainers who don't root for the Cubs and/or aren't baseball fans are the ones we usually cut a little short. I never want to take our viewers' focus totally away from the game for long stretches. It's a delicate balance, one that I am still figuring out after seven-plus years on the job, but I do enjoy the high-wire act of live television. And by the way, as outrageous as he can be, Jeff Garlin is one of our favorite guests and has become a good friend of ours over the years. We rib each other because it's fun.
• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @lenandbob and check out his blog entries at www.wgntv.com/lenandbob. Subscriber Total Access members can email him questions each week via our online link.
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