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There's a new Boog in town
The Index takes a look at the debut of the new Cubs broadcast team
The Cubs played a game yesterday with fans, on TV. So it’s time for a Pointless Index Marquee Spring Training broadcast edition.
Boog and JD
It should have been really jarring after 15 years of Len Kasper as the TV voice of the Cubs to just one day have a new guy, but it really wasn’t. A huge part of that is that Jon “Boog” Sciambi has done enough Cubs games on ESPN over the years (including the scintillating six hour trip to the playoffs last year) that there was nothing weird about it. The always witty and always low maintenance Jim Deshaies would be good with anybody, but he and Boog had seemingly instant chemistry. If we didn’t know better (and as Cubs’ fans, knowing better isn’t really our thing) we’d have thought the TV guys had been doing games together for years.
Boog getting the no-hitter thing out of the way early
One of the dumbest criticisms of Kasper over the years was from nitwits who thought he was “jinxing” no-hitters by (gasp!) talking about them while they were going on. Baseball announcers are employed with one very important mandate, it’s to tell us what’s happening. (Unlike Bears’ radio announcers who are apparently incentivized to keep us in the dark as much as possible.) The bare minimum we should expect, no, demand, from them is to tell us when something potentially historic is happening. The “jinx” bullshit stems back to a still active baseball superstition that nobody on the team talks about the no-hitter to the pitcher while it’s going on. How it somehow got to the point that moronic fans get mad at an announcer for actually telling them what’s going on is a mystery. Boog brought it up in the fifth inning yesterday that if there’s a no hitter going on in a real game (the Cubs had one going in that half assed seven inning thing) he’s going to tell us. JD agreed. As any sensible person would.
Solving the mystery of Ian Happ’s vegetarian-ness
Boog and JD talked about Happ missing a few days because of a bout with food poisoning and you could hear Boog catch himself as he was about to ask how you can get food poisoning without eating meat. Hey it’s not all undercooked pork. Somebody gets a little feces on some lettuce and suddenly you are standing in front of a mirror going all Chris Traeger.
Later in the game Happ put on the headset and did a live interview with Taylor McGregor (more on her a little later) and she somehow contained herself and instead of asking him what his favorite microbrewery in Denver is or what he thinks of Arkansas football’s chances in 2021, she asked him if he’s still a vegetarian and his answer was pretty simple.
He explained that he did it for roughly a full year from November to November but around Thanksgiving he gave it up, and not because he gave in to eat some turkey. In order to get the amount of protein a growing baseball boy needs he was having to eat his weight in beans, and he just didn’t want to do that anymore. I would guess the other guys who still live with him in the Compound are glad he’s laying off the beans, too.
Roller derby talk with Jedward Hoyer
Another in-game interview was Boog and JD talking to Cubs President of Explaining Why The Payroll’s Going The Wrong Way, Jed Hoyer. The first thing you noticed was Jed had a cool Under Armour Cubs’ hoodie on. The other was that he wasn’t wearing pants. It’s not just Clark these days.
OK, Jed had shorts on, so it’s not like he was going full Mickey Callaway or anything. They were talking about the flexible rules this spring. Games are mostly only going to be seven innings and early in the spring if your pitcher has thrown 20 or more pitches in an inning you can just end the inning. JD compared it to being able to “cut off the jam in roller derby.” Jed was at first stunned and then seemed legitimately frustrated that he had let a chance to talk roller derby on a haphazardly carried regional sports network go by. For those of you don’t know (like I didn’t), in roller derby, if the jammer gets the lead but falls behind the opposing jammer, the coach may conclude that the team will be outscored and direct the jammer to call off the jam.
What? Fine. Here’s an explainer.
I don’t know.
Anyway, they did actually talk some baseball with Jed, and he insisted that despite the tricky nature of trying to jump up a young pitcher’s innings after the 60 game grabass season of 2020 that Adbert Alzolay can make the opening day rotation if he pitches well enough. Hoyer reminded us that no team is going to get by with five or six starters anyway, so lots of guys will end up in the mix before the season’s over.
And, Jed was forced by Boog and JD to single out someone who has surprised early on and he begrudgingly touted Kohl Stewart. So Kohl has that going for him. It’ll look nice on his resume in Des Moines.
Boog making fun of Len
Boog and Len have been friends for a couple of decades so it was no surprise he brought up his buddy’s name during his first broadcast. JD and Boog were complimenting the Royals blue uniform tops (I’m not a fan) and they discussed how much Len cares about uniforms. Two of Len’s obsessions that I’ll never get were his opinion that every powder blue version of a jersey is awesome (they are most definitely not, though the Royals powder blue tops are nice and the Twins royal throwbacks are cool) and that Trevor Bauer is fascinating. Anyway, Boog joked that Len’s interest in uniforms has “jumped the shark” and that is Kasper’s an “11” when it comes to them, Boog is a “seven or an eight.”
The Cubs have a long, storied history of uniform innovations. They were the first team to have a raised fabric logo on their batting helmets, the only team with the logo on their pants (the little one on the hip of their road grays), only team with the National League logo on a jersey (on the sleeve of the blues because they already have the crawling bear on the front) they are the only team who wears a logo with a trademark sign stitched into it (I’ve always thought that’s really weird.)
The Cubs, like a lot of teams have the player’s number on the back of their batting helmet, but for some reason they use a font for those numbers that looks nothing like the ones on their jerseys, in fact, it looks a lot like the Red Sox home number font. In the 50s a box of those must have fallen off a truck and PK Wrigley just made the clubhouse guys start using them.
Anyway, I’ve always liked that the Cubs wear their pinstripes for home games in spring training, and I appreciate that except for two strange back-to-back games in 2017, the Garbage Family that Owns the Cubs™ has ended the practice of letting the starting pitcher choose to wear the blue tops at home. It’s still the pitcher’s choice on the road, but the Cubs always wear the pinstripes at Wrigley now, and that’s as it should be. It might very well be the best looking uniform in the game, and even if it’s not (it is) it’s a lot better than either those blue things or the road grays, so the Cubs should wear it as often as possible.
Royals shortstop Lucius Fox
Yeah, that’s his real name.
Popeye’s is a broadcast sponsor now
Sure, we’re still going to be buried in ads for bogus brain pills and mail order herpes medication during Cubs games, but I can get behind Popeye’s. Especially the spicy chicken sandwich.
Travelocity also ran a bunch of ads during the game. Not a great sign about the state of your industry when Marquee is all you can afford.
Boog forgetting that Taylor was going to be on the broadcast
Anybody got a reading?
Year two of doing spring training games and the Cubs still can’t figure out how to use a radar gun in Arizona. There are web streamed high school broadcasts that can give you an MPH readout after every pitch, but it’s apparently not going to be available, again, for spring games on Marquee. It’ll be a real kick in the pants if the ESPN broadcast today (it’s a Cubs’ home game) has one, and I’m going to guess it will.
In game manager interview
In a weird twist, Boog has actually done more TV broadcasts with the Cubs’ manager than with the Cubs’ TV analyst. That familiarity was pretty apparent when they interviewed David Ross during the game. The interview itself benefitted from Ross and Sciambi having a history together, as Ross talked about how seldom he’ll use signs during the spring, and why Ian Miller sac bunted on Monday (he did it again in yesterday’s game.) There’s no problem doing these in the spring, but there’s just no need to continue them during the real games. The manager doesn’t want to do them, and the announcers feel weird interrupting the manager while he’s working. But the Cubs did them last year on Marquee, and I guarantee the suits were abuzz about how great it went yesterday. Of course it went great yesterday. It’s easy to yuk it up with your buddy for a few minutes in a game that nobody cares if you win or not. Just make them stop.
Whatever this is
I mean, Prometheus was my least favorite of the Alien movies, too.
Batting after you’ve won
Yesterday’s game was only seven innings and the Cubs led 3-2 after the top of the seventh, and yet, they still played the bottom of the seventh. So the Cubs made the final out of the game and still won. Crazy? Well, no. Pointless maybe, but not crazy.
Spring training games are only games in as much as they turn the scoreboard on and charge admission and sell tickets and concessions. So with the shortened games a trailing road team can ask to play out an unnecessary final half inning to get their pitchers some work. The Reds and Angels played the bottom of the eighth last night even though the Reds had already won the game, and with his last pitcher struggling and running up his pitch count, Joe Maddon wandered out on the field like Lou Piniella and just declared the game over. I’ll bet he wished he had that option when Brad Brach was pitching for him.
And guess what’s back?
I mean, come on.
At least this year they moved the apostrophe to before the q. The graphic above is the one they had to start last season, and honestly, I don’t want to know what letter they thought they were contracting with the apostrophe after those e’s.
Oh, and during the game, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy held separate press conferences for some unknown reason to keep saying they couldn’t talk about anything due to league rules. We just slogged through five months of frustration with these dopes, we didn’t need an inexplicable bonus session.
But at least Pace made everyone roll their eyes pretty hard with the claim they might still bring back Mitch Trubisky.
Whatever. As always guys, thanks for nothing.