Cubs extend TV broadcasters through 2019 season

Cubs extend TV broadcasters through 2019 season

Cubs fans will be hearing Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies for the next three seasons, at least.

The Cubs re-upped with the dynamic TV broadcasting duo through the 2019 season.

Kasper and Deshaies — more often referred to as "Len and JD" — have brought wit and analysis to Cubs TV broadcasts for the last four years, watching as ratings have doubled the last two years on CSN.

After enduring a couple years of rebuilding, Len and JD have been calling games for a Cubs team that has won 200 regular-season contests plus five postseason series (and of course, the first World Series in 108 years).

"We think Len and JD are the best team in baseball," Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said in a statement. "Their chemistry as a team and their ability to weave baseball history, current events and the Wrigley experience into the game call speaks to their preparation and love of baseball. We are excited to know they will continue bringing Cub games to our fans, especially after such a thrilling and historic season."

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2017 will be Kasper's 13th year as the Cubs play-by-play TV broadcaster after three seasons with the Florida Marlins (2002-04) and three years with the Milwaukee Brewers (1999-2001)

"I am thrilled to formalize an extension of what has been the greatest job in the world," Kasper said in a statement. "Calling Cubs games with Jim Deshaies for the most passionate fans in baseball is something I cherish and hope to do for the rest of my career. I am incredibly thankful to the Cubs, the Ricketts family, WGN, CSN and ABC 7 and all the fans with whom we watch and cheer on the Cubs every season."

Deshaies worked 16 years as the analyst for the Houston Astros broadcast before joining the Cubs. He played 12 years in the big-leagues, working almost exclusively as a starting pitcher, going 84-95 with a 4.14 ERA over 1,525 innings from 1984-95. 

"I am excited to continue my relationship with the Cubs and the entire organization," Deshaies said. "It has been a joy to share Cubs baseball with our great fans and I hope to do so for a long time. It is a special privilege to call Wrigley Field your home office, and working with a top notch partner in Len Kasper and all our broadcast partners makes coming to the ballpark that much more enjoyable."

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

CSN's David Kaplan and David DeJesus discuss the upcoming matchups in this edition of the Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

Maybe a four-game series with the N.L. East-leading Washington Nationals will help the Cubs take off. 

It did last year. 

The Cubs swept the Nats early last season, boosting themselves into first place in the National League - a position they wouldn't relinquish. More than a sweep, though, a positive series is vital for a team that continues to hover around .500. 

To do so, Joe Maddon's pitchers must somehow slow the Nationals offense, which has managed to push across more runs than any team in the majors. 

After D.C., the Cubs are off to Cincy for a three-game set with the Reds. 

Watch David Kaplan and David DeJesus preview the upcoming matchups in the video above. 

Cubs in sink-or-swim mode with Nationals looming: ‘Keep the floaties on’

Cubs in sink-or-swim mode with Nationals looming: ‘Keep the floaties on’

MIAMI – Jon Jay walked into a quiet clubhouse late Sunday morning, turned right and headed directly toward the sound system in one corner of the room, plugging his phone into the sound system and playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

The Cubs outfielder whistled as he changed into his work clothes at Marlins Park, singing along to the lyrics with Anthony Rizzo a few lockers over: “Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.” 

That’s what the Cubs keep telling themselves, because most of them have World Series rings and the National League Central is such a bad division.

“The biggest thing is to keep the floaties on until we get this thing right,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 4-2 loss left the Cubs treading water again at 38-37. “We’re solvent. We’re right there. We’re right next to first place.”

In leaving this relaxed tropical environment after a 4-2 loss, the Cubs will jump into the deep end on Monday night for the start of a four-game showdown at Nationals Park, where Dusty Baker will stack his rotation with Gio Gonzalez, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and hope Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman can outslug a bad bullpen.

Maddon already sounded doubtful about All-Star shortstop Addison Russell, who mishandled the spin on a routine Ichiro Suzuki groundball in the first inning and later exited the game with a “sharp, pinching pain” at the front of his right shoulder.

Miami sunk the Cubs with three unearned runs after Russell’s error, part of season-long trend where the defending champs can’t seem to put it all together in every phase of the game. Martin Prado drilled Mike Montgomery’s first-pitch, 93-mph fastball off the left-center field wall for a two-out, two-run double and the Cubs will have to play sharper against the first-place Nationals (45-30).

“It could be a great test,” reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant said. “It will be nice to see where we’re at against them.”

The Cubs had enough trouble against Edinson Volquez and the Miami bullpen, translating eight hits and seven walks into only two runs while leaving 11 runners on base. That wasted a quality start from Montgomery (1-4, 2.03 ERA), who lasted six innings and retired the last 10 batters he faced. More than anything, Maddon sounded disappointed in Willson Contreras missing a hit-and-run sign in the seventh inning and Ian Happ getting thrown out at second base.

“Keep The Floaties On” sounds like an idea for Maddon’s next T-shirt. The 2017 Cubs haven’t been more than four games over .500 or two games under .500 at any point this season. The 2016 Cubs didn’t lose their 37th game until July 19 and spent 180 days in first place.

“That’s what was so special about it,” Rizzo said. “We boat-raced from Game 1 to Game 7 with a couple bumps in the road, but this is baseball. It’s not going to be all smooth-sailing every day. You got to work through things.”

The Cubs might be working without the safety net of a wild card when the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are all on pace for close to 100 victories in the brutal NL West. For all their inconsistencies, the Cubs are still only 1.5 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in a division where the other three teams could become trade-deadline sellers.

“I know that, but I also know that we have not had that run yet, which I believe we have (in us),” Maddon said. “I’m waiting on us to get well. I want our young guys to (use) the whole field, hitting-wise, and see where that can take us. Right now, our starters are pitching like we thought that they could.

“I’ve always wanted to win the division, obviously. We’ll just play that out. It’s too early for me to really be concerned about that yet. We’re pitching better. We’re catching the ball better. And now all of a sudden, they’re starting to use the whole field. So let’s see where this takes us right now.”

Sink or swim, the Cubs are going into the nation’s capital, less than six months after their White House visit. The big idea will be survival more than dynasty in what could still be a playoff preview.

“We’re looking forward to play them,” Montgomery said. “We know where they’re at. We know we could see them down the line.”