Ryan Dempster ‘interested in exploring’ Cubs network show

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Ryan Dempster stole the show at Studio Paris early last year when he dished out some hilarious burns against current Cubs players. | Madeline Kenney/Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — Heads up, Yadi.

Former Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster’s talk-show stage might be getting bigger and brighter after the team finally announced its plans Wednesday for its new Marquee Sports Network.

Dempster, who riled Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina when he and third baseman Kris Bryant roasted St. Louis as ‘‘boring’’ during his ‘‘talk show’’ last month at the Cubs Convention, said he’d welcome the chance to take his hosting talents to the new Chicago-based network.

‘‘I’m still in kind of the fruition stage of getting this all kind of going,’’ said Dempster, who has renewed his contract as an occasional host on MLB Network shows and also hosts an occasional traveling show called ‘‘Off the Mound.’’

‘‘I’d love the idea of it all. I would love to do it in Chicago, living there and having four kids. It’d be nice to be close to home and stuff like that. If somebody’s interested in having me do it, I’d be interested in exploring those opportunities, for sure.’’

Dempster, who spent 8½ seasons of a 16-year big-league career pitching for the Cubs, has remained an active, charismatic part of the organization and local scene, both as a special assistant in the front office and a regular on TV and Cubs Convention productions.

The idea of Dempster hosting a regular show on a Cubs network has been the subject of speculation almost as long as the possibility of such a network has been discussed publicly in recent years.

Whether it’s being considered by Marquee or the Cubs in the early stages of launch plans is unclear. Dempster said he hasn’t been approached.

He’s not even sure how often he could provide content for the network. Pulling off a nightly show almost certainly would be too ambitious for a rollout, he said.

‘‘I’m still trying to kind of learn my craft,’’ he said. ‘‘But I think it’s something that could be done once a week or at least once a month to start. And it’s a lot of fun.’’


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His ‘‘Off the Mound’’ show has been booked for a two-day music festival headlined by Incubus and Cubs fan Eddie Vedder next month in Arizona, in which he’ll interview several former big-league players. He has another show scheduled in July, with proceeds benefiting Special Olympics.

The interviews with players and other celebrities seem to be popular — at least outside of St. Louis.

‘‘I know that there was some stuff said by Yadi,’’ Dempster said. ‘‘But listen: Anybody who’s ever talked to me about St. Louis and the Cardinals knows that I’ve always said I thought they’re one of the best franchises in baseball. They play the game the right way. The St. Louis Cardinals fans are amazing fans, and that’s never changed. When you’re in a comedy setting, a late-night talk-show setting, in a room full of about 3,000 Cubs fans, you’re allowed to have a little bit of fun.’’

Dempster even claimed to think St. Louis isn’t actually boring.

‘‘There’s tons of really fun things to do in St. Louis,’’ he said.

At which point he was asked to name one.

‘‘The Arch,’’ he said. ‘‘A Cardinal game. Mike Shannon’s — go to his restaurant.’’

Shannon’s downtown restaurant near the ballpark is closed now.

‘‘OK,’’ Dempster said.

So there are two fun things to do in St. Louis?

‘‘No, don’t stir up the hornet’s nest,’’ he said.

Dempster said he doesn’t feel the need to reach out to Molina, but if he does get that regular show?

‘‘Yadi can come on anytime,’’ Dempster said.

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