After we were all greeted late Thursday or early Friday with the shocking news that Len Kasper was leaving the Cubs TV booth for the White Sox radio play-by-play position, the first name that was mentioned as Len’s successor was longtime ESPN and Fox announcer Chris Myers. Myers had been named last winter by Marquee Sports Network as a fill-in for Len when he did some Fox-TV national work, or just took a day off here and there. Due to the pandemic-shortened season, that didn’t happen; Kasper worked all 60 regular-season games on Marquee.
Reports that Myers was going to be named Kasper’s successor were greeted with a resounding “No way!” from most Cubs fans. Later Friday, the Cubs released a statement in which Marquee general manager Mike McCarthy said:
“Len has been a fantastic play-by-play man for several years here with the Chicago Cubs, and we wish him nothing but the best in this new endeavor. Len is chasing a dream which he and I have discussed many times. We made a significant effort to retain Len, but he was resolute that moving to the White Sox radio position was his desire. We honor that and now begin the process of filling what is one of the premiere jobs in sports – play-by-play for the Chicago Cubs. We have already received interest from several prominent candidates who look at the job as anybody would - as a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with one of the most iconic franchises in sports.”
I am going to take this at face value and assume that the job is open to any qualified announcer who wants to apply, and that the Cubs and Marquee will consider all applicants seriously. This article by Jon Greenberg in The Athletic addresses this question and quotes Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney:
“We know our fans love change,” said Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney, tongue firmly in cheek. “And in the mix of thoughts was how will this be received and how hard will it be for people to understand — especially Cubs fans. Going from the Cubs to the White Sox and going from TV to radio, for people who don’t know Len well, this will just seem incongruous. This doesn’t make any sense, there must be something sinister behind it.”
Also, for those of you who seek that sinister reason, consider this quote from Len in this Phil Rosenthal article in the Tribune:
“Let’s make it very clear, if there’s any anger or frustration on Cubs fans’ part, it should be directed solely at me because I’m the one who spearheaded this crazy idea in the first place,” said Kasper, who will turn 50 next month.
So I think we can stop thinking there’s something more than Len’s desire to do radio behind this move. That really is it, in my view, full stop.
Regarding the process to replace Kasper, McCarthy told Greenberg that process is wide open:
“This is a plum job,” McCarthy said. “It should not surprise you the amount of interest people are expressing. Some are waiting their turn and some are less patient. Very provocative, interesting names. But we’re going to go through a process here. It’s a little late in terms of a perfect world but we have plenty of time to do this right and that’s our plan. We anticipate doing this in a way that will very much please Cubs viewers and the fans of the team and we’ve begun the process.”
Friday, I wrote multiple articles here about some possible successors to Kasper: Josh Lewin, Brian Anderson, Jason Benetti and Kevin Kugler. There are good reasons both pro and con for those four men, and they’re certainly not the only people who will be considered for the role, presuming those four have any interest in the position.
I’m going to add one more current MLB broadcaster to that list: Chip Caray. Caray, as you know, was the Cubs’ lead TV voice from 1998-2004. I thought he did a good job; others didn’t care for him. He’s 55 and has significant MLB TV experience, including the last 11 seasons as the principal TV play-by-play announcer for Braves games.
Lastly, here’s one more name who might be considered: Adam Amin. Amin, a Chicago-area native (Addison Trail High School), will begin the 2020-21 season as the lead TV announcer for the Chicago Bulls on NBC Sports Chicago. He’s called some minor-league baseball and also has done college sports for ESPN and this year, has worked some NFL games for Fox-TV. Amin is 34, the same age Len Kasper was when the Cubs hired him in 2005.
For his part, Crane Kenney seems to get it. From Greenberg’s article:
“It needs to be someone who fits with our culture and I mean the Cubs culture, not ownership culture,” Kenney said. “Because the Cubs culture is very special and something we cherish. So we got a lot of work ahead of us.”
So now I open this question up to you, the BCB reader: Who would be your first choice to do Cubs play-by-play on Marquee beginning in 2021? Vote in the poll (if you are reading this story via Apple News or Google AMP, you will have to go to a conventional browser to see it) and explain your choice in the comments.
One thing’s for sure, in my view: It shouldn’t be Chris Myers. He’s got no experience calling local sports, little experience calling baseball, zero connection to Chicago and just doesn’t seem the right type of voice for a local broadcaster. A quote in Greenberg’s article sums it up:
As one national broadcaster remarked to The Athletic, if the Cubs pick Myers, “it really makes you question if they have any idea what makes a successful broadcast.”
Greenberg reports that Marquee is working on some sort of “talk show” with Myers that will be announced soon. That’s fine, just keep him away from the game broadcast booth.
My selection? Brian Anderson, if the Cubs can get him away from the Brewers, for whom he’s been calling games since 2007. If they can’t do that, I’d be OK with Josh Lewin, who already has one year of calling Cubs games, back in 1997 on WGN-TV.
Now it’s your turn.
Who should succeed Len Kasper as the Cubs’ TV play-by-play voice?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave in comments)