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posted: 12/6/2012 6:00 AM

Deshaies looks like good fit for Cubs' TV booth

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  • Former Houston Astros pitcher and broadcaster Jim Deshaies was named to the Chicago Cubs television team on December 3, 2012.

      Former Houston Astros pitcher and broadcaster Jim Deshaies was named to the Chicago Cubs television team on December 3, 2012.

 
 

New Cubs television analyst Jim Deshaies was terrific during his introductory news conference Wednesday morning.

Funny, self-effacing, reverent, relevant.

Deshaies also professed to be goofy, and goofy always is good.

"My career ERA in (Wrigley Field) is just south of 7," he playfully pointed out.

That makes him -- cheap joke alert -- a candidate to be a No. 5 starting pitcher for the Cubs next season.

Seriously, there's something to be said for a former major leaguer who pitched from '84-'95 and wound up with a career record of 84-95?

There's only one downside to this hire: If the Cubs were going to come out of left field to fill the position vacated by Bob Brenly, a better choice would have been Alfonso Soriano.

Doesn't the Cubs' incumbent left fielder have to be better equipped for the broadcast booth than for the outfield? So why not mike him up, team him with play-by-play man Len Kasper and have him provide real-time commentary in the field, at bat and on the bases?

"Boy, Len, that brick wall sure hurts if you run into it chasing a ball that just went through your legs."

"You know, ladies and gentleman, I have no idea why I just struck out on that pitch in the dirt and three feet outside."

"Oops, the cutoff man got that ball in fast, but maybe I can outrun the rundown, uh-oh, cramps, cramps, ow, ow, ow."

Names like Snoopy and Big Bird wouldn't have been as surprising for this job as Jim Deshaies was. The Cubs weren't competent at much this year, but they sure were at keeping a secret.

Broadcasting for the Astros the past 16 years, Deshaies was considered to be a nice mix of informative and amusing. But there is the little matter of him having no previous connection to the Cubs or Chicago.

Why is that important? Because it's annoying when somebody fakes loving a team just because he works for it.

Outsiders always have had a hard time cracking the local media market here on TV, on radio and in the newspapers.

However, Brenly proved that isn't a deal breaker for a game analyst. Deshaies could learn from how he survived and thrived.

Brenly didn't analyze like he was a Cubs lifer. He knew he couldn't be Ron Santo, whose emotions were credible because his relationship with the franchise went back a half-century.

If Brenly were a homer -- yelling and screaming and moaning and groaning over the Cubs -- it would have come across as a guy cheering for the team that signs his paychecks.

Brenly never played it that way. He and Kasper were more analytical than fanatical.

Hopefully, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and baseball president Theo Epstein don't want their broadcasters to see everything through Cubbie blue-colored glasses.

Better that Deshaies be free to call a bonehead a bonehead when appropriate because the Cubs figure to flop through a couple more years of growing pains.

"I'm an honest guy (but) fair," Deshaies said. "If players make mistakes, point them out, but don't bury guys."

Fine, but that Alfonso Soriano idea remains intriguing. It would have been interesting to hear what he had to say about the Cubs' follies as they occurred.

Short of that, the pitcher out of left field should do just fine if allowed to be an outsider telling the truth instead of forced to be an insider fudging it.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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