Last night the Chicago Cubs once again let their fans down. They heard their pleas, listened to their requests, and took their recommendations under consideration. But in the end, they decided to go their own way and do what they wanted, without giving the fans their desire.
No, I am not talking about trading fourth outfielder Brian Bogusevic to the Miami Marlins for their fourth outfielder (and now right handed compliment to Nate Schierholtz) Justin Ruggiano. I am not even talking about the Cubs missing out on expensive free agents like Robinson Cano while dangling their best pitcher Jeff Samardzija to other teams who would be willing to give up their best pitching prospects for at least two years of the man known as Shark.
No, I am talking about the Cubs decision to hire Ron Coomer to fill the vacated radio booth job. When Keith Moreland left the position after his three year contract ran out, fans were clamoring for Chicago’s favorite son (even though he is from Texas) Kerry Wood the job. They figured that he would be the best fit to fill the chair Ron Santo sat in for so long. After all, he was Santo’s all time favorite player.
Many fans felt that Wood would be a natural fit because of how much he has meant to the Cubs, including his 20 strike out game his rookie year and helping pitch the Cubs through the 2003 playoffs helping the fans come within five outs of the first World Series appearance in many fan’s lifetimes. Add in all the charitable work Wood does in the city of Chicago, as well as his wanting to come back to the Cubs after Santo’s passing in order to honor his old friend. Fan’s only felt that this was a no-brainer that the job would be his, if he wanted sit next to Pat Hughes for nearly 162 games (remember, Hughes always takes time off during the season).
Apparently though, most fans seem to be forgetting the key phrase in that last paragraph. The job was his, if he wanted the position. Perhaps the time was not right for Wood to accept the job. After all, he has young children who he likely wants to spend time with before they grow old and go off to college. While many fans might be upset with the decision to go with Coomer over Wood, if Wood was offered the position and turned the Cubs down, I cannot blame him one bit. Along with likely wanting to spend time with his family, would you blame him for not wanting to watch this version of the Cubs every game of the year? Sure, he is getting paid to do so, but in some circles that could be considered torture; even to the most die hard Cub fans.
From all I have heard, Coomer is a fantastic broadcaster who spent time with the Minnesota Twins as their primary television broadcaster. He has a good baseball mind, and from what I have heard from Twins fans, is a colorful and entertaining person. He may not be the character that Santo was (and be honest, no one ever will be), but he could very well be the perfect compliment to Hughes on the radio.
Many fans might wonder about why Coomer received consideration this year for the radio booth when he spent so much time in the TV booth. I am sure most fans would rather see Coomer sitting with Len Kasper than Jim Deshaies, who many fans feel was a complete bore. The difference between doing commentary on the television and radio are like night and day. Watching a game on television, you can actually (and obviously) see the plays unfolding with your own eyes. On the radio, you need to be able to paint a picture as clear as a freshly washed window. Not everyone can do that, and thankfully for Coomer that is the job of the veteran Cubs broadcaster Hughes who does the job better than almost anyone.
While Moreland did an admirable job, many fans did not enjoy his broadcasts. They felt he was too boring and lacked in knowledge. Of course, this could very well be because he was following a Cubs legend who fans had been listening to for a generation. I always feel bad for the person who is the immediate replacement for someone so beloved, and one whom fans felt did an amazing job. The expectations are always going to be sky high with such big shoes to fill, that you are almost set up to fail. I would rather be the guy, after the guy replacing the legend. Expectations are lower, and you will have an easier job pleasing the fans.
The first season may be a little stormy as Hughes and Coomer work hard to generate that chemistry needed to be a successful team. However, if the two are unable to form a good radio broadcasting team, at least fans only need to put up with him for two years. Though, perhaps they might be able to make listening to Cubs games enjoyable again. After all, with the state of the Cubs being in the situation we find them in, we can use all the enjoyment we can get during what sets up to be another long season.