Ron Coomer passed the first ear test as the great Pat Hughes' new radio partner.
This is based on only one sampling of a Cubs game last weekend. My psychiatrist threatens to have me committed if I listen to more than that during the exhibition season.
First impressions of Coomer were that the Cubs and WGN-AM just might have gotten this one right after Keith Moreland's drab tenure in the booth.
The timing of Moreland's departure was perfect. Baseball color men should last no longer than two or three years while play-by-play men -- the real stars -- should last two or three decades.
Filling booths with ex-players isn't as easy as it used to be.
A proliferation of national outlets limits the local talent pool. Plus, many promising voices earned enough money playing that they don't need second careers.
Coomer was available and complements Hughes nicely, though they aren't Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall quite yet.
One positive was that Coomer always seemed a word away from a chuckle. A broadcaster has to indicate that he's enjoying himself if he's to succeed in getting listeners to enjoy him.
Baseball isn't all that important. Coomer -- as does Hughes -- took the game seriously without treating it like the Ukraine crisis.
Coomer graded out well according to my criteria.
The analyst should have been a player sometime during this century.
Coomer played nine years before retiring in 2003. Some prominent players he played with (like Derek Jeter) and against (like Albert Pujols) still are in the majors.
That means Coomer can tell stories about them and describe what it was like to be on the field and/or in the clubhouse with them.
Baseball provides so much dead time that on-air conversation is vital. The Hughes-Coomer banter was promising.
The analyst should have some sort of local connection.
Coomer attended Lockport Township High School and played for the Cubs in 2001.
When Coomer agonizes over a defeat or elates over a victory, the listener can imagine that he cares more about the Cubs than somebody merely in it for a paycheck.
The guy in the second seat should be both amusing and amused.
During Coomer's one season with the Cubs, he demonstrated an endearing sense of humor.
During the game over the weekend, the Arizona winds forced fielders to stagger around after anything hit in the air.
Hughes asked, "What's the key to catching a ball like that?"
Coomer deadpanned, "Have someone else catch it."
Baseball announcers never are as funny as they think they are, but that was a pretty good ad-lib.
The analyst has to dispense insight.
Coomer was either knowledgeable or pretty good at faking it. Sometimes the latter is all it takes.
A baseball broadcaster doesn't have to be a statesman but does have to be able to communicate.
Coomer did get his points across despite being grammatically challenged on occasion.
Baseball isn't a game of grammar anyway, so even the lapses were understandable and even a bit charming.
Honesty always is the best policy for baseball analysts.
This quality will be especially important as the Cubs embark on another season expected to be full of folly.
Myriad Cubs fans -- among those still interested -- are so fed up that the worst thing an announcer can do is try to deceive them.
If Starlin Castro's mind wanders, sound frustrated. If Anthony Rizzo isn't improved, express impatience. If Ricky Renteria botches double switches, be critical.
One exhibition game isn't enough to determine how Ron Coomer will do in that regard.
Still, the initial ear test was encouraging in a town not blessed with compelling baseball broadcast teams right now.