Three isn’t a crowd on Marquee Sports Network with Sciambi, Deshaies & Girardi

Joe Girardi is expected to be in the Cubs’ TV booth for about 50 games, most of them with Jon Sciambi and Jim Deshaies.

SHARE Three isn’t a crowd on Marquee Sports Network with Sciambi, Deshaies & Girardi
Jon Sciambi (from left), Joe Girardi and Jim Deshaies called the Cubs’ opening series last weekend and will work more together this season.

Jon Sciambi (from left), Joe Girardi and Jim Deshaies called the Cubs’ opening series last weekend and will work more together this season.

Marquee Sports Network

Three-person booths can be difficult for broadcasters of any sport. But the new pitch timer might make baseball the least conducive for such booths.

That didn’t dissuade Marquee Sports Network from adding Joe Girardi to the Cubs’ booth of Jon Sciambi and Jim Deshaies for the opening series last weekend. It proved to be a winning combination. Sciambi is adept at leading a booth, and Deshaies and Girardi provided an interesting pitcher-catcher dynamic.

Girardi appeared on six Cubs broadcasts last season, including three with Sciambi and Deshaies, after the Phillies fired him as manager June 3. Girardi, a Cubs draft pick in 1986 who had two stints with the team (1989-92, 2000-02), has called games for ESPN Radio, the Yankees’ YES Network, Fox and MLB Network in his post-playing career, which includes 14 seasons as a manager.

That’s a lot of experience to share with viewers, and the trick in a three-person booth is not to, shall we say, overshare. Sciambi has to call the action, and Deshaies has insight to share, too. With the dilly-dallying between pitches significantly reduced, ensuring everyone is heard can be a challenge.

Girardi probably talked more than Deshaies, but it didn’t feel obtrusive because Girardi was so sharp. For example, when catcher Yan Gomes was having trouble hanging on to Marcus Stroman’s pitches, Girardi suggested it was because Gomes was trying to frame them for the umpire.

Perhaps Girardi thought he was talking too much because he often asked Deshaies for his thoughts on a topic. Generally, the play-by-play guy will bring an analyst into a conversation, but Girardi was the one taking the lead. It made for great exchanges.

Girardi still prepares for games as though he’s competing in them. He mentioned how he uses MLB.TV to scout teams, and his effort came through on the broadcast. It can’t be easy to drop in and call a game, but Girardi sure made it seem so.

This isn’t to take anything away from Deshaies, who’s astute and certainly more entertaining. But the trio’s work has me looking forward to their next games together. Girardi is expected to be in the booth for about 50 games, most of them with Sciambi and Deshaies. For these guys, three isn’t a crowd.

The big hurt

Fox Sports did not bring back White Sox Hall of Famer Frank Thomas for its studio shows, replacing him with Yankees Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. Thomas had been with the network for almost 10 years. The New York Post had reported that Thomas’ spot was in jeopardy after Fox announced Jeter’s hiring on Super Bowl Sunday. Thomas declined to comment.

Thomas seems to have fallen victim to Yankees favoritism. Who really thinks Jeter will offer anything of substance? He was milquetoast during his playing days and has admitted that was by design. Even in ESPN’s “The Captain,” a seven-hour documentary about him, Jeter maintained his flavorless front.

He’ll join former Yankees teammate Alex Rodriguez and Red Sox Hall of Famer David Ortiz on Fox. Thomas never seemed to click with those two. They took up most of the oxygen in the room and would yuk it up between themselves. But Thomas has come a long way as an analyst.

He’ll continue to appear on NBC Sports Chicago’s White Sox studio shows. He’s better there, so maybe this is for the best. But on the surface, dumping the affable Thomas for the banal Jeter reeks of bias.

Floyd the harbinger?

Cubs fans weren’t the only ones critical of manager David Ross after the team’s 7-6 loss to the Reds on Monday. Cliff Floyd, Marquee’s new lead studio analyst, began the postgame show questioning Ross’ decision to have Patrick Wisdom bunt with men on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning, trailing by one run.

Wisdom had been hit by a pitch on his left wrist in his previous at-bat, which Ross said played into his decision. But in the ninth, Wisdom swung away and lined a single to right field. Floyd wondered why Wisdom could swing in the ninth but not the seventh.

It was a good look for Marquee, whose mere existence still bothers fans clinging to the WGN days. With the Cubs expected to compete this season, the network’s commentators will be expected to raise their game and provide critical analysis. Floyd, a longtime analyst at MLB Network, appears prepared to do just that.

Remote patrol

  • The Cubs’ game against the Rangers at 1:20 p.m. Friday will air exclusively on Apple TV+. Fans can sign up for a free seven-day trial to watch. Rich Waltz, analyst Dontrelle Willis and reporter Heidi Watney will call the action. The game Saturday will air on Marquee and FS1, where Kenny Albert and Eric Karros have the call.
  • The Fire’s game against Minnesota at 7:30 p.m. Saturday will be available for free on Apple TV+. Kevin Egan and Kyndra de St. Aubin will call it.
  • The Blackhawks’ game against the Wild at 8 p.m. Monday will air on ESPN.

The Latest
After beginning the season with a three-game road trip — splitting games in Dallas before handing the Liberty their first loss of the season on Thursday — the Sky (2-1) host the Sun (4-0) for their home opener on Saturday.
An osprey and shark tale, toad tadpoles at Montrose and a cicada art contest are among the notes from around Chicago outdoors and beyond.
Demidov, a playmaking Russian forward who could complement Connor Bedard, and Levshunov, a versatile Belarusian defenseman who exudes confidence with the puck, are almost certainly the two options the Hawks will choose between.
In conversation she always keeps the focus on just one of her grandchildren.
Whether they’re lobbying Congress on climate change or fighting poverty, they learned how to use their voices for positive change, the author of “Reclaiming Our Democracy” writes.