New year brings new analyst to Chicago Cubs TV booth

Jim Deshaies at the podium during his Chicago Cubs news conference.
Analyst Jim “Singles” Deshaies will join Chicago Cubs play-by-play announcer Len Kasper in the broadcast booth in 2013. (Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune)

I grew up watching the Chicago Cubs play on WGN, Channel 9 out of Chicago. Even though I lived in Cardinals country in downstate Illinois, it was Jack Brickhouse who brought me over to the Cubs’ side. And his sidekick in the TV booth was Lou Boudreau, who Jack always referred to as “Good Kid.” So the importance of the color guy was ingrained in me early on.

Steve Stone was the color guy alongside Harry Caray in the 1980s and 1990s, and nobody on this planet knows more about baseball than Steve Stone does. Stone then gave way to Bob Brenley, who held the commentary position for the past eight seasons. Brenley has left the Chicago Cubs for commentary duties with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Cubs have hired former Houston Astros pitcher Jim Deshaies to take his place.

For a franchise remaking itself on the field and off, Deshaies is an intriguing choice. Hailing from Massena in Upstate New York, Deshaies holds a major-league record, which is more than anyone reading this post can say. But it’s a dubious one, at best. Deshaies came to the plate 373 over the course of his  12 seasons in the majors and never once recorded an extra-base hit. Nobody expects pitchers to hit very well, but it’s almost beyond belief that all 33 of Deshaies’ major league hits ended up with him standing at first base. If nobody has thought to dub him “Singles” before, I’m going to do it here.

I don’t watch much television outside of Chicago Cubs games, so I have no idea what Singles is like in the booth. Apparently, he has a four-year contract, so I’m sure he’ll grow on me eventually. The Cubs — coming off a 100-loss season for the first time in my lifetime — have got bigger issues than who will be filling in the space between pitches. And while I made the case for Rick Monday to get the job, since he’s an ex-Cub and a certified American hero to boot,  I’m certainly willing to give the new guy a chance. After all, I like his new nickname.

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