Catching up with Cubs TV announcer Len Kasper
If the weather cooperates, the Brewers open their season with a game against rival Chicago this afternoon at Wrigley Field. When Cubs fans settle in to watch the game, they'll listen to Len Kasper, the Marquette University graduate who begins his fourth season as the team's TV play-by-play voice on WGN and Comcast SportsNet.
We touched base with Kasper over the weekend to get the lowdown on the Brewers' border rival.
OnMilwaukee.com: How do the Cubs look this spring? Is this finally "next year?"
Len Kasper: This team is better on paper than the one that took the division last year. Kosuke Fukudome is a big improvement in right field, the pitching staff is deeper and defensively this club is better. I think a couple big keys are these: Can Kerry Wood be the dominant closer many think he can be? And, will an offense that finished in the middle of the pack in the National League in runs last year be a little better? The Cubs finished eighth in runs. If they can sneak into the top five and continue to pitch as well as they did last season, the sky's the limit.
OMC: What do you expect from Fukudome this season? What have you seen of him on the field and how has / will his presence, along with all the Japanese media who cover him, affect the vibe around the team?
LK: He's a solid baseball player (that) does everything well. He might not be a perennial all-star, but the Cubs just need him to have great, deep at-bats, get on base and make the occasional game-changing play in right field. He has all the tools to do those things. As far as the rock-star treatment, he doesn't seem to seek out the spotlight, but rather has quietly and politely handled the media every day. I thought that part of it would be more noticeable, but it wasn't during spring training. Again, his personality is such that he's always accessible, which makes the media stuff pretty seamless. It's a wonder why more superstars aren't like that. The more accessible you are, the easier the media are on you because they're not constantly hounding you! You walk in, do your thing with the media and then they'll leave you alone.
OMC: Can Kerry Wood be a reliable closer?
LK: That's a big unknown, but I'll tell you what -- he was throwing 97, 98, even hit 101 (mph) on our radar gun in Las Vegas and he walked just one batter all spring. Based on that, you have to like his chances. It's such a great story when you consider all he's been through, injury-wise, in his career.
OMC: You've seen your share of home openers in Milwaukee and then in Florida. What is the home opener like at Wrigley Field?
LK: It's unlike any other place. Actually, the best comparison might be a Packers home game at Lambeau Field. It's one big family inside the ballpark. When I envision a World Series at Wrigley Field, I picture Opening Day every game. In fact, it was like Opening Day last year just about every day after Aramis Ramirez hit the big game-ending home run off Francisco Cordero in late June. It's the best atmosphere in baseball in my opinion and I am really excited about Monday's opener.
OMC: In the 10 years that the Brewers have been in the National League, the rivalry with the Cubs has produced some interesting twists and turns (Sosa's home run chase, the Brant Brown game, some memorable moments). Does the fact that both teams are expected to contend this season add another layer of intrigue to it?
LK: Absolutely. Plus, last year these were the two best teams in the division. Unlike '07, they will meet late in the season with the final three games of the year being played at Miller Park. It's very possible that series could be for the division crown.
cub fans are so dumb they probably thought it WAS the world series everyday after that home run.
Yeah, right | April 2, 2008 at 8:55 a.m. (report)
When I picture a World Series at Wrigley, I also picture world peace and sugar plum fairies dancing in the streets.
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