Yet another insightful interview with Len Kasper
One week from yesterday, Desipio turns 10 years old.Â I’m not sure whether to celebrate that milestone or to curl up in the fetal position all day and refuse to get out of bed.Â Ah, I’ll get up, I wouldn’t want to make that day just like any other Tuesday.
But in those ten years certainly things have changed.Â For one thing, people have actually been reading Desipio for like seven of those years.Â Â I have to tell you, it was easier doing this when nobody read it.
One of the best things to come out of this decade of lunacy is that from time to time, Cubs’ broadcaster Len Kasper takes the time to answer our questions.Â I’m sure there are millions of Cubs fans who would jump at the chance to ask him baseball questions and get insightful answers.
We just don’t have that in us.Â We ask the inane and we enjoy the response.Â I had a little help with the questions this time.Â One of them was sent in by a “celebrity.”Â See if you can spot it.
– The Cubs were 25-32 on June 6. Then Mike Fontenot came back up and they have gone 19-11 since. Coincidence? Also, which trade will have the most lasting legacy? The infamous trade of Sammy Sosa to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston the Lesser, Dave Crouthers and Mike Fontenot, or the trade that sent Porfi Altamarino, Rich Bordi, Henry Cotto and Ron Hassey to the Yankees for Ray Fontenot and Brian Dayett.
LEN: I think there are several reasons for the turnaround. The main one being this–the statistical Gods finally said, “OK, enough is enough!” The Cubs had been outscoring their opponents by a pretty decent margin throughout the first half, but their record continued to show otherwise. I was more surprised by the struggles early on than by their recent play. Having said that, I think Lou’s maneuvering with the bullpen and Jim Hendry’s roster tweaks have done wonders and everything seemed to turn when Kelli Pickler uttered “Buy me some popcorn and Cracker Jacks” during the 7th inning stretch. I mean, let’s be honest, that’s the moment we’ll all ultimately point to.
I don’t mean to influence your answer, but I did wear 24 in little league in 1985 in honor of Brian Dayett. Actually, I like to think of it as a prelude to the Hank White Fan Club. Also, how sad is it that I knew the details of both trades by heart, and merely went to baseballreference.com to double check?
LEN: I would say the trade that will have the most lasting legacy in my life is Branch Rickey acquiring broadcaster Ernie Harwell from the Atlanta Crackers in exchange for catcher Cliff Dapper.
– What is Cesar Izturis doing here? I mean really…isn’t that some sort of HIPPA violation?
LEN: I’ll use my first-ever “no comment” (funny thing is, when I originally typed that line, it came out, “my fist-ever”…Freudian slip?).
– Cliff Floyd was upset after the Cubs’ team meeting on May 30 because some details of the meeting got to the media. Cliff blamed the leak on one player in particular, but wouldn’t name him. But is it safe to say that the player had a “very special bobblehead giveaway” on the past homestand?
LEN: I know somebody TOOK a leak that day, just not sure who.
– If Bob Brenly ends up with the manager’s job in Cincinnati, I’ve got money on you going with to be his third base coach. When that happens, which infamous third base coaches in big league history will you emulate? Wendell Kim? Dale Sveum? Larry Bowa?
LEN: I think I would emulate the San Diego Chicken.
– Sunday’s lineup against the Pirates had the Cubs’ starting pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, enter the game with a season batting average more than .100 higher than catcher Koyie Hill. Any chance that the next time they’re in the lineup together that Carlos bats ahead of Koyie?
LEN: While that would be very Tony LaRussian of Lou to do, I think Carlos can stay content hitting 9th.
– What kind of government job does Ed Hartig have? Nobody who actually works for a living has THAT much free time.
LEN: Would you REALLY call spending time looking up for me the last Cubs righthander to pitch 5 consecutive scoreless innings while walking two batters each inning with his team scoring at least one run each inning with the wind blowing in at Wrigley against a non-division opponent in the month of June “free” time?
– You’ve been with the Cubs since 2005 and seen some pretty dismal baseball, but through that what have been the most exciting game or two you’ve called. (I have a hunch you punctuated the call of one of those games with “Ohhhhhhh baby!”)
LEN: Yes, that would be one. I think the other one involved a blown 5-run lead in the 9th a few days before that which ended with an Alfonso Soriano game-winning hit.
– How come Derrek Lee can’t hit homers any more? Is it the wrist? Keep in mind that Gary Sheffield had a more invasive surgery on his last year and he’s got 21 homers playing in the Grand Canyon in Detroit.
LEN: Well, fortunately, I procrastinated enough on this Q&A that Derrek finally hit his first HR in over a month. I’m not worried about his lack of HRs. As long as he keeps having great at-bats, I can live with it.
– Is that the outfield? In NASCAR we have an infield, and that’s where they park the campers and such and drink beer and go pee. Do you like Apple Jacks? Do they sell milk at the ballgame? Am I even remotely hot enough to get by with being this dumb? — Kellie, Palestine, North Carolina
LEN: Yes, haven’t had ’em in 20 years, no, probably.
– Just how awful would Neifi have been playing without his beloved greenies?
LEN: I just feel bad for all his fans.
– I pointed out to my wife that Felix Pie really enjoys “adjusting” himself between pitches, and she’s now fascinated with the lengths that WGN and Comcast have to go to avoid Felix’s adjustments before pitches. How about renaming the special extra close closeup of Felix’s upper body between pitches as the Pie Cam? Also, keep in mind that my wife is easily amused. I had her convinced through the entire NCAA basketball season that Joakim Noah was actually a really tall girl who was so good at basketball that Florida put her on the men’s team instead of the women’s. I had forgotten about this until draft night when she walked by the TV and said, “You mean the French girl got drafted?”
LEN: Please tell your wife to get her head out of the gutter. But wait, she married you so if she did that, you might be sleeping on the couch tonight.
– I’ve been offered a book deal to write one akin to Sports Guy’s “Now I Can Die In Peace” after the Cubs finish their 100th championshipless season in 2008. Mine would be called, “Please Shoot Me In the Head.” Do I risk being all Dan Shaughnessy and profiting on my favorite team’s misery if I accept? Also, to save you the time of reading it, I’ve already written your dust jacket review. How does this sound? “The greatest book ever written. Makes ‘To Kill a Mockinbird’ look like a steaming pile of dung.” Nice, huh?
LEN: I think this would work better: “It’s the best thing I’ve read since last Thursday’s WGN blog post by Len Kasper.”
– You likely rarely hear it because you’re working at the same time, but could there possibly be a more riveting three minutes of radio every day than the “Lou Piniella Show with Ron Santo?” My favorite part is when Ron asks Lou if there are any changes to the lineup and Lou tries to remember it off the top of his head. Never gets old.
LEN: I heard it on my off-day Saturday. And I hear it live in the dugout many days. One of my favorite things to do. They definitely have fun with it.
– Indulge me. Here’s a list of the men who have managed the Cubs in my lifetime:
Just gaze at that list for a moment. Now fight your gag reflex and can you blame me that before Lou, Don Zimmer was my all time favorite and it wasn’t even close?
LEN: Rene Lachemann didn’t make your top 2?
-Who was your favorite player growing up?
LEN: Hakan Loob, former Calgary Flames forward.
– At the Cubs’ Convention in 2004 I ended up at a urinal next to John McDonough and we had that awkward “How’s it going?” moment while we each burned holes (with our eyes) in the ceramic tile immediately in front of us. I did take the opportunity to tell him how much I hated the alternate “blue” jerseys and the celebrity seventh inning stretch thing. I’m going to personally take credit for the demise of the blueberry uniforms. Sorry I haven’t been as effective with the singers. But in relation to that, which singer has been the most nervous, and which one was the coolest one to get to meet?
LEN: The most nervous? I would say me singing it with Bob at our first Cubs Convention.
I guess I have to go back to how uninformed Jeff Gordon was regarding how momentous it is to sing the stretch here. He really had no idea how big a blunder he had made. I enjoyed meeting Tim Robbins and even though our political views don’t mesh, I’m excited about meeting Dennis Miller, who is a brilliant comedian.
Who knew your singing would take you places?
– And finally (mock applause fills the Internet) — Who do YOU think killed the Jock Jones trade? Ugh…so close.
LEN: I’m very serious when I say this…that could end up going down as a great “trade that didn’t happen.” Jacque has a chance to be a big contributor down the stretch.