There was quite a bit of smoke about Bob Brenly leaving the Cubs' broadcast booth, so the news didn't surprise me Wednesday night.
What surprised me was how I reacted to the news. I was legitimately bummed — and again, the news was at least somewhat expected.
I'd really grown to enjoy Len (Kasper) and Bob. If they weren't quite Pat (Hughes) and Ron (Santo) on the sheer enjoyablility scale, they were only a notch below. And Brenly certainly brought a lot more in actual analysis and insight that Santo ever did. They were good when the Cubs were good in 2007 and 2008; I feel they've actually gotten better since, helping ease my having to watch bad baseball on a daily basis.
Brenly wasn't perfect. I grew tired of his almost daily rants about umpires and about instant replay, even if I largely agreed with them. He was awfully cliche-heavy — but find me a former player/manager who isn't. Whatever his warts, his candor, knowledge of the game and ability to work so well with Kasper to create an enjoyable and informative broadcats more than made up for them.
In the 48-plus hours since the news broke, the expected names have been thrown around as candidates to replace Brenly, with Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Stone and Kerry Wood being the biggest. The one I hope doesn't get the job is Wood, who has absolutely no experience and has never struck me and being particularly insightful or willing to rip his former teammates when it's warranted. I believe the job is his if he wants it; publicly he's saying he doesn't, but a change of heart wouldn't shock me.
To be honest, I'd rather go with a lesser name like Doug Glanville than any of the bigger ones, but the Cubs will probably seek a bigger fish for what is a widely-desired job. Stone would be fine, but I can't see him leaving the White Sox. I sure hope it's not Todd Hollandsworth or Dan Pleasac.
No matter who the choice is, they'll have their hands full trying to replace Brenly. I expect Kasper's presence to make the broadcast passable to good regardless of who his partner is, but I don't expect the next tandem to be quite on par with Len and Bob.