6:35 PM CST, February 20, 2013
The Cubs say they will update the fun at the ol’ ballpark this season, although I don’t know how you do that with Ian Stewart at third base.
One thing is, the Cubs want to update the music in Wrigley Field. So, yeah, Castro Gangnam Style.
No, they’re not going to kill the paean to Harry Caray, and I’m fine with that. I know that some people hate the whole thing and think the Cubs should do away with it. Not me. I like rooting for someone to botch the song and then give a great interview.
And that’s also the problem. The second half of that double-play combination, I mean. The interview, also frequently known as verbal waterboarding.
Used to be, these “singers’’ became the guests that never left. They remained seated with a live microphone until the Cubs finally made three outs. Len Kasper and Bob Brenly had nowhere to go with some of these agonizingly uninteresting people. God forbid there should be a Cubs rally with Jeff Gordon sitting in the “Wrigley Stadium’’ booth.
Let me be clear: This is not on Kasper and Brenly. They’re pros. They know how an interview should go. They also apparently know when it should end.
The Cubs made a change several years ago when they allowed Kasper and Brenly to hustle idiots, bores and mumblers out of the booth before the end of the seventh inning, and that happened plenty of times, believe me.
Now the Cubs say that not every singer will be invited for the interview, like the Cubs are Johnny Carson and the stand-up comic is hoping to get waved over to the couch.
This is monumentally stupid, even for the Cubs. Mean and insipid columnists -- I’m just guessing here -- are already planning the piece for the first so-called celeb who gets dissed. Sorry, Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald, we don’t think there should be another “Footloose,’’ so get out and take the guy from “Storage Wars’’ with you.
Here’s the rule: If you don’t think your seventh-inning singer should be invited to do the interview, then don’t invite that person to sing in the first place. Duh.
The Cubs said they would establish new standards for their version of Harry Karaoke. The Cubs also said staff members will try to teach the singers. Teach them what and when, I don’t know. But pick a lane: The guests either have to know their Cubs stuff or they get briefed on how the thing works.
No wonder the seventh-inning episode can come off so badly. The Cubs don’t know what they want and apparently don’t have anyone in charge of saying no.
The answer is simple: Pre-interview. Talk to the potential singers before you book them. Talk to every single one, and I mean talk. No email, texting, or public relations people.
It’s the way people used to date. The boy called the girl, they had a conversation, and they each made a decision about going further. Have the Wrigley kids ask their parents.
It’s just that simple for the producer of the seven-inning stretch. If you want to quiz potential guests like you’re Steve Guttenberg in “Diner’’ to see if they know baseball, the Cubs and Harry’s various degrees of drunkenness, then fine. Do it. Make that commitment. Set that as a standard and stick with it. Don’t be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings by saying no. Look, you work for the Cubs, and my God, who ever feels worse than a Cubs fan?
If the guest already knows the game and the Cubs, then great, sweetheart, have your people call my people, and let’s do Wrigley.
If the guest doesn’t cut it, then sorry, baby, I’ll have my voicemail call your voicemail to say you’re just not right for the part.
Whatever, just stop booking guests on eYeesh.com
You get bad interviews because you get bad interview subjects because the producer did a bad job. Kasper and Brenly knew how to interview people. I assume Jim Deshaies will be equally adept. But stop forcing them to put whipped cream on road apples. Vet the interview subject by doing an actual interview with the actual subject.
I can’t believe the Cubs do that with all their guests because there are just too many guests who act as if they’ve never been interviewed before. Speak UP, would you? If these boring guests got through an actual pre-interview process, then fire the pre-interviewer right now and send handwritten notes of apology to Kasper, Brenly and everyone watching.
Look, the Cubs appear on two local TV outlets that host interview shows. Those shows have producers who do this pre-interview drill daily. Hel-LO.
If the Cubs want to change things, then fine. I’m all for making it more interesting, and what wouldn’t be more interesting while Ian Stewart is at the plate?
If those changes involve raising the bar, then great. It should’ve been there all along, or at least evolved to that point.
You’re the Cubs. You’re marketing a brand. You’re not Ricki Lake taking every “name’’ who comes through the talk show car wash.
It’s obvious and painful when the interviewers and/or the subjects are, pardon the phrase, out of their league or out of place. Set professional standards that match the professionalism of Kasper.
Sorry, Miss World. This is a no-go. But we’ll always have 2011, and hey, this will give you more time to solve world hunger.
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