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Jammin' with the voice of the Cubs

Len Kasper knows his job rocks--even when the team doesn't

By Matt Lindner

For RedEye

3:30 PM CDT, July 14, 2013

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Cubs TV play-by-play man Len Kasper loves his job, but the music aficionado says it comes with one major drawback.

"I'm gonna miss a lot of great shows this summer, including The Replacements reunion in September," the 42-year-old said. "I'm trying to figure out how to get back from Pittsburgh. We go from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee on that Sunday night so I'm trying to figure out a way to make a detour to Chicago to check out the reunion because I will be really bummed if I miss it."

But while he misses a lot of shows he'd like to see, Kasper never misses a game because, much like the team's fan base, he loves spending summers at Wrigley Field.

"It never gets old," he said. "It feels like if you just close your eyes, this could be the end of September. That's a very special quality about this place that a lot of other places don't have. When the Cubs win, that day feels like a World Series game."

Now in his ninth season in the team's booth, Kasper has been adjusted well to life with new partner Jim "JD" Deshaies.

"He's got a lot of Bob Brenly's sensibilities," Kasper said; Brenly was his former longtime TV partner. "They played in kind of a similar era. [Deshaies is] really interested in the new school stats. He's on FanGraphs every day, so that kind of fits my personality and kind of allows us to go down many different avenues."

"I think we've both done it for a good long while now and we have similar styles and approaches to broadcasting," Deshaies added. "We just blended very nicely early on."

The mood swings in the stands at Wrigley can be sudden and violent depending on the team's fortunes. But Kasper says you'll never see that in the booth, regardless of how bad the product is on the field.

"As you have the roller coaster ride of the season, the announcers kind of provide that comfort zone when people tune in," he said. "You learn over the course of time when you do this for a while that it is a long season."

It's that mentality that has helped Kasper establish himself as the polar opposite of his White Sox counterpart, the bombastic Ken "Hawk" Harrelson.

"When you're winning, the team and the way they're playing kind of carries everything and the momentum," he said. "When you're losing, I think it's nice to know that there's something you can count on every day when you turn on a game that 'oh, OK, that's Len and JD, they're doing their thing.'"

"I think fans want an honest broadcast and if a guy's struggling, you tell them that a guy's struggling," Deshaies added. "They don't want to hear us sit up here and whine."

Of course, it also helps that the pair is joined nightly by a steady stream of celebrity guests to mix things up. When asked about his favorites, Kasper doesn't hesitate.

"Jeff Garlin we had [Wednesday] night is always fun and unpredictable," he said. "My face hurt I was laughing so hard after he left the booth. Eddie Vedder is great. He's a huge baseball fan, loves the Cubs. The Chicago celebrities, Joe Mantegna, Bonnie Hunt, any celebrity from Chicago who grew up rooting for the Cubs is really, really good."

Having been in the booth longer than just about any other player has been in the Cubs dugout, Kasper knows a thing or two about Wrigley. Which is why, when the team announced plans to add a JumboTron, he wasn't as upset as some who speculated that such an addition would be too drastic.

"When I look at the ballpark, there have been changes over the year, but to me it still has the same vibe as it had when I first came here over 20 years ago," he said. "I don't think it will ruin the aesthetic of this ballpark in any way."

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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