Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Ex-Cubs stars in mix to replace Santo
By Bruce Levine
The colorful Rick Sutcliffe would be a popular choice among Cubs fans.
Chicago Cubs baseball on the radio may never be the same after the passing of Ron Santo. Veteran broadcaster Pat Hughes signed a five-year contract to continue his top quality play-by-play for the next five seasons. That begs the question who, if anyone, should replace Santo in the booth as color analyst.
Numerous candidates are out there looking for an opportunity in one of the higher profile radio jobs in baseball. Normally the television broadcast is the dominant element of a team's entity. Though in the case of the Cubs, they seem to be equal.
Plenty of candidates are contacting the Cubs about the open spot. Names in the mix are Dave Otto, Rick Sutcliffe, Keith Moreland, Randy Hundley and Rick Monday. Otto has done a nice job filling in for Santo over that last five years when the former Cubs icon was sick. However, Otto's style might not bring a high enough level of energy to the radio booth. Sutcliffe would be a popular choice, with his over-the-top personality and honest assessment of what's happening on the field and in the clubhouse. Sutcliffe is currently under contract as a television broadcaster for ESPN.
Monday has been a broadcaster in both San Diego and Los Angeles over the last 25 years. He is a former Cubs center fielder and may be best known for saving the American flag during a game in Los Angeles when he was a member of the Cubs. Monday stopped two protestors who were attempting to burn “Old Glory” in center field.
Moreland also has been a part-time contributor in the past when Bob Brenly had days off, and has been received well in his brief stints with Len Kasper.
Then, of course, there's Hundley, who has 45 year of Cubs history behind him and the southern charm to be accepted by Cubs fans. Hundley was part of the search that brought Santo and Brenly to the Cubs booth in 1990. The former Cubs catcher was said to have auditioned with the other two before he suddenly pulled himself out of consideration. At that time, WGN chose both Santo and Brenly to go along with new play-by-play man Thom Brennaman.
The Cubs may choose to go in another direction and hire Judd Sirott to do the middle three innings of play-by-play, while both he and Hughes contribute to the other broadcast. Sirott has broadcasted the fifth inning on radio over the last few seasons and has improved to the point that he should be in consideration for a major league broadcasting job.
If the Cubs and WGN go this direction, it would also give fans a chance to get used to the fact that the always unpredictable and loveable Santo is indeed gone. The Brewers' Bob Uecker and Cory Provus work as a tandem during their broadcast, providing some insight without employing a traditional color commentator.