An excerpt from my Tribune column:
Steve Stone laughed and then repeated the question.
“Is it easier to do a baseball broadcast when the team you’re covering is doing well?” said the White Sox TV analyst. “I will say this. It is a lot easier for my partner.”
News flash: As the Sox go, so goes Ken Harrelson’s mood. Stone is looking forward to a year in which “Hawk” doesn’t feel as if he has been grounded.
That sentiment applies to the TV and radio announcers on both sides of town. A prosperous offseason has the Sox and Cubs hopeful to dive into something that hasn’t been on the menu for a while: Meaningful games, especially late in the season.
“Every broadcaster will tell you, good games, good team, that stuff is the dessert,” Cubs TV play-by-play voice Len Kasper said.
It has been a long drought for Kasper since the Cubs’ last winning season with an 83-78 mark in 2009. Since then, Kasper has been on the call for a team that has averaged 92 losses in the last five seasons.
Basically, the season seemed to be over shortly after opening day as the Cubs drifted toward irrelevance. Nobody’s going to throw a tag day for people who get to talk about baseball for a living, but it is significantly more challenging when there is zero buzz in the ballpark.
“It’s harder to try to keep people entertained,” Kasper said. “I don’t want to say it becomes like spring training, but the mindset for a game in September with a fourth-place team against a fifth-place team is different than doing a game with playoff implications. We do feel it in the booth, there’s no question about it.”