NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Unfortunately for Chicago Cubs fans Jim Deshaies might be the biggest name the team signs this week. And if social media is any indication, fans have mixed reviews on the new color analyst who will broadcast games with Len Kasper starting in 2013.
But just as fans are willing to give Theo Epstein & Co. time to build a winner (they don’t have a choice), they should also give Deshaies time in the booth, before deciding if it’s a good hire or not. That seems like an obvious notion but already some are reacting negatively because he isn’t a former Cubs player. Does that really matter?
Was Bob Brenly a former Cub? Did all those Harry Carry and Steve Stone fans realize they spent time with the White Sox, as a broadcaster and player, before coming to the Cubs? Did it matter then?
All things being equal -- and they weren’t -- it would be understandable for a former Cub to be a frontrunner for the job. But no one on the short list had the broadcast resume Deshaies has. Eric Karros has never done a full season of games on a daily basis and Mark DeRosa hasn’t done any, period. Dan Plesac and Rick Sutcliffe would have been good hires and maybe they were ahead of Deshaies at one time, but this isn’t a job you take a chance with. Not if you don’t have to.
Maybe a charismatic Karros or DeRosa would have been fine but Deshaies is the better bet. By all accounts he’s one of the best at his profession, having been in the booth for 15 seasons. If Sutcliffe was available he might have been the only one to rival Deshaies in that department, having done enough games for ESPN and the San Diego Padres to be deemed worthy of an everyday gig.
In the end, it will be what Deshaies says and how he says it that will give him lasting power, not if he wore a Cubs uniform. Remember Joe Carter? Being a former Cub doesn’t mean anything once the game starts. Or at least very little. It might give someone the benefit of the doubt, but for 162 games, year after year, that benefit will evaporate pretty quick.
It’s true, the Deshaies hiring lacks the buzz the Cubs so desperately need these days, but the hiring of a broadcaster shouldn’t be the place a team finds its energy. That should come on the field and, again, if the hiring in the booth isn’t a good one then a one-day buzz will quickly be replaced by complaints if it doesn’t work out. It’s also true that fans -- especially Cubs fans -- tend to have a connection with the broadcasters sometimes more than the players and so it’ll be on Deshaies to find his niche sooner rather than later.
Simply put, the positives outweigh the negatives. After all, if the Cubs are left with anything less than a great analyst then they’ll be doing a disservice to their fans. Wasn’t 101 losses already enough?