Ron Coomer is in his third year as the Cubs radio analyst working alongside the smooth veteran play-by-play man Pat Hughes. While I was originally put off by Coomer (who replaced Keith Moreland in 2014), I have come around and now appreciate his analysis.
Hall of Famer Ron Santo, who formed the original "Pat and Ron'' team for WGN Radio from 1990 through 2010, was a beloved former Cub. While I appreciated his passion for the team and his nonstop cheerleading, I found Santo's lack of analysis a severe shortcoming. Coomer does not have the strong Cubs connection of either Santo or Moreland; he played one season for the team in 2001 under manager Don Baylor, a team that finished 88-74. Coomer hit .261/.316/.390 that year with eight home runs and 53 RBI. Coomer's more closely associated with the Minnseota Twins, but is a native of Chicago's south suburbs (he makes much of his local ties during broadcasts).
Coomer is outstanding at breaking down pitching and plays, especially when compared to Santo. He also does a more than adequate job during his one inning of play-by-play, something Santo struggled with. He comes across as a good guy, someone you'd enjoy having a beer with; he describes most people that come up during the broadcasts as good guys, too.
One knock against Coomer in his early years with Hughes was that he too often used the phrase " I agree with that,'' which was annoying. He seems to have got the message to knock it off, as I have not heard him use that tired phrase much, or at all, during the current season.
He does tend to describe many hits (and throws) as "bullets,'' without giving any other detail as to the nature of the line drive. I wish he would vary that a little, but that is a minor criticism. He also often refers to Major League Baseball as "our game,'' as if he has some kind of ownership stake in it, which is also slightly annoying to me. Again, maybe a nitpick but I wish he would not overuse this phrase.
Coomer's interplay with Hughes is entertaining, although Hughes comes off as somewhat of a square (on Sunday, he spent half an inning on Mr. Haney from "Green Acres"). It is hard to find fault with Hughes with his silky-smooth delivery. But I do find his trademark home-run call ("that ball's got a chance...'') to be rather weak as the ball almost always ends up a homer. He is so smooth as working in the many sponsor plugs and in-game ads that they become less onerous than they could be. I would not describe Hughes as a homer, but his calls of the opponents' scoring plays are decidedly less enthusiastic than those for the Cubs ("that ball is going to leave the yard'' is his usual description of an opponent home run). Hughes was at his best during the Cubs' playoff run last year; I loved his "I wish every one of you could be here right at this moment'' at the clinching moment of the division series against the Cardinals. (The Cubs are using that call as part of their pregame intro video on the boards at Wrigley Field.)
Pregame and postgame host Mark Grote chimes in with out-of-town scores and particlpates in the Attendance Game while also getting involved in some of the banter. I find Grote to be the weakest link on the team and his attempts at humor somewhat lame, but he does not detract from the overall broadcast.
Hughes seems bound for the broadcasting wing of the Hall of Fame in the near future. While I don't consider him and Coomer a classic tandem like the Vince Lloyd-Lou Boudreau team of my youth, they are, bottom line, a "good listen.''