Chicago Cubs: A different era, but important nonetheless
Even though modern audiences don’t require the announcer or broadcaster quite as much as viewers of yesteryear, the broadcasters are still members of our Cubs family and they’re the ones who bridge the gap between our couch and the clubhouse.
Len (since 2005) and JD (since 2013), have become that newest comfort food. They’ve become an Old Style and Buona for our consumption during the game, a familiar and heartening sound to soothe our losses and celebrate our wins. More than just the Chicago beef to our baseball souls, their knowledge, wit, chemistry, and tone have put them on a pedestal above all other announcers across Major League Baseball.
What makes Len and JD the best, you might ask? It’s many things, probably to many people. It might be JD’s love of Seinfeld or Len’s steel-trap memory of games and moments from the past. It might be their witty banter, or some days their musical knowledge. It might be their graciousness when welcoming the never-ending onslaught of special guest conductors for the 7th inning stretch. It also might be their fairness in discussing the strike zone, umpires, and opposing players. It also might be their character and frankness when discussing our own players, and holding them to a higher standard. What makes them so great is the fact they are good at everything.
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Len does a solid job as play-by-play announcer, rarely messing up names, stats, or counts, but acknowledging when he does in a self-deprecating manner. JD adds his color commentary, but he doesn’t talk too much, and he doesn’t hang Len out to dry when he needs a chuckle, confirmation, or supportive word.
Of particular note to both old school and new school fans of the game, is that they approach the old school and new school instincts vs. analytics debate with objectivity and fairness. They genuinely question shifting, sabermetrics, and statistics, while debating the merits of traditional baseball ideals vs. newer data-driven paradigms.
While admiration or disdain for a broadcast team is a completely subjective manner which all fans debate, we all know when announcers are knowledgeable, fair, even-keeled, funny, and relatable. Sometimes, it’s easier to realize how good you have it when you’re forced to deal with something else. Because we have become spoiled with our announcers, we really need to hear how bad other announcers are to appreciate what we have.