Friday, May 8, 2009

A Welcome Respite From Ron Santo

It has been relatively easy to listen to the Cubs' radio broadcasts for the last few games.

Ron Santo has not been in the broadcast booth.

Since his leg amputation and subsequently more fragile medical condition, Santo has declined to go on longer road trips with the Cubs. Sitting in for him as Pat Hughes' color commentator on these occasions is former Cubs relief pitcher Dave Barrisch.

Barrisch, to be sure, is not destined for the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, but he is a veritable Vin Scully or Mel Allen, compared to Santo.

Santo is simply annoying.

He is supposed to be supplementing Hughes' play-by-play accounts with interesting observations and keen insights into the play on the field.

Instead he talks about the tepid temperature of his soup. Or the antics of his wife's poodle. Or he bellows like the drunken fan sitting in the seat behind you at Wrigley Field and who gets so carried away with the excitement of it all that he ends up showering you with his beer.

What is worse, is that in his wild, drunken-fan-like bloviating, his voice often blots out the play-by-play account so you don't have a clue as to what is going on in the game. That, I believe, defeats the very purpose of sports broadcasting.

I remember a few seasons back, while cycling on the North Shore, I was listening to the Cubs game on my Walkman.

Mark Grace was on second and takes off on a hit and run. The hit fell in for a bloop single and Grace begins rounding third heading for home -- apparently running thru the third base coach's stop sign. Hughes is trying to relate these rather exciting events and as Grace is headed for home, Santo bellows out, "WHAT'S GOING ON??!!!"

I was actually p.o.-ed, because I wanted to know precisely that, but this boorish fan, named Santo, was bellowing to 32 states with 50,000 watts of power so that no one in that earshot could find out "what's going on."

Had I been watching the Cubs on TV, I would have known.

Two non-Chicago native, Cub fans have asked me why Ron Santo is a broadcaster. They, being more objective than those of us who grew up with Santo batting 5th, backing up Sweet Swingin' Billy and Ernie, just can't fathom why he is allowed on the airwaves.

The fact that he remains on the air, apparently popular, year after year, makes me sometimes want to agree with those misanthropic, mullet wearing, Sox fans who say that Cub fans have the collective IQ of a snail darter.

Don't get me wrong. I respect Ron Santo as a brilliant 3rd baseman and an integral part of Cub lore of the very colorful 60s era. Once at a Glenview bar, I met Ron Santo's son, Jeff, the movie producer, and I found him to be one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. He was actually flattered when I told him that as a kid, I had his father's baseball card and really respected his dad's achievements on the field. Santo's son seemed a great guy.

I'm sure Ronnie is too. And I think he would be a great guy to sit down and have a beer with as well.

But please, elect him to the Baseball Hall of Fame under the old-timers provisions. Or give him a statue on Clark St. outside Wrigley. Anything he wants.

But please, get him off the airwaves so I can listen to the Cubs and actually find out "WHAT'S GOING ON??!!!"


  1. santo is great, did you really know what was going on when harry was doing games??? come on now, don't be such a dick

  2. Please. Ronnie might be a great guy and he certainly was a top-tier 3rd baseman in his prime, but that does not a good radio color man make. Did you hear him 2 weeks ago drone on and on about the tooth that he broke from eating stale pizza? That is really fascinating radio, isn't it?

  3. Ron & Pat are GREAT together. Best duo in baseball radio.

  4. I just listened to Bob Eucker doing a Brewers game on the Milwaukee station (you can get it in Chicago if you're near the lake)and he had Bob Costas on as a guest co-host. Compared to these two, Pat and Ronnie are bush leaguers. Eucker is genuinely funny and Costas is a play by play all star. Eucker's wit really makes you laugh unlike Pat & Ron's lame jokes about toupees and ratty sweaters. And Santo is quasi-articulate, at best.


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