7 questions — and answers — with Len Kasper about Marquee Sports Network and his national plans for 2020

Tribune Content Agency

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Len Kasper is entering his 16th year as play-by-play man for the Chicago Cubs, matching Harry Caray’s 16-year run on the North Side from 1982-97.

And at the age of 49, Kasper doesn’t look much different than when he replaced Chip Caray in 2005, with the exception of a gray hair or two.

As he begins a new season as the voice of the Cubs for Marquee Sports Network, where he’ll team with longtime partner Jim Deshaies and a rotating cast of co-analysts, Kasper answered a few questions about what we can expect from him in 2020.


How has the transition to Marquee Sports Network been?

The first game was special. The fact that this has all started really from scratch is pretty mind-boggling. I’ve seen the studio. The big rollout will be opening day. I don’t think there will be as much done in the studio in spring training because it’s not opening day. I think there will be more bells and whistles once the season starts that people certainly will notice, but to get on the air with J.D., and (Mark Grace) is exciting.


What can we expect with a three-man booth on the Marquee telecast?

There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of meetings on this is how it’s going to go. But a lot of the on-air content I don’t want to do off the air. I talked to Gracie (before Saturday’s game) and he was really excited. I said: “A lot of it I don’t want to tell you what we’re talking about. I want to spring it on you during the game.” That’s the fun of it. I just want to make sure that as prepared as we are, we’re not overprepared to the point it’s not organic and genuine, because that’s how J.D. and I roll. I don’t want to bring up a lot of topics off the air, because I want to hear what his first take is on the air.


Will there be any difference Cubs fans will notice?

Yes and no. It’s the same because it’s Cubs baseball and it’s J.D. and me, but a lot will be different. A lot more resources and a lot more people involved, and I’ve embraced the newness of that. I guess the familiarity of our voices, hopefully, will be comforting for people. But I also think there will be a lot of new wrinkles that people will like as well.


Will it be difficult getting comfortable with all the rotating analysts after just pairing with Jim Deshaies for so long?

Certainly the dynamic changes a little bit, but my job in those spots is to let the two former players have a baseball conversation, and I really pride myself in being adaptable and being able to work with a lot of people. There is no finite number of games, or number of innings people are going to do. A lot of them will come in in the middle three (innings) and there will be games where there will be a three-man booth for the whole game, so I think they’re going to try some different things to see what works. I believe we have four games in spring training that are three-man — JD and Gracie, and later in the spring it’ll be Gracie (Rick Sutcliffe) and me. J.D. will have few days off.


And you’re doing more national games?

I have added more Fox (games), so I will have 8-10 Cubs games off for Fox. When we’re in London I’ll be in Atlanta doing Dodgers-Braves, and when we’re in New York I’ll be going to Fenway to do Red Sox-Cardinals. So it’ll be something different. Chris Myers will fill in for me, probably about 10 games. I also might do a little radio for Pat (Hughes). He takes off like 12 games, and I’ll slide over to radio and Chris will do TV. Just keeping it fresh. I like radio. I turn 50 next winter and I don’t want to be the person who is unable to do new things and adapt. I like stuff that gets me out of my comfort zone.


What’s your workload like this spring?

I’m doing all but three (Cactus League) games. I’m used to it. I do as many as I can. I don’t do any other sports.


So you are no Jason Benetti?

No, he’s insane. Every time I talk to him it’s “Where are you (broadcasting) today?” I’m just a one-sport guy.


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