Sports media: Kasper leaves novice nerves for White Sox-Cubs games far behind
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When Len Kasper began as the Cubs’ TV voice in 2005, White Sox-Cubs games were filled with bad blood, drama and tension.
And, to an extent, he felt it in the broadcast booth when he called his first Crosstown Showdown series.
‘‘What I recall about it was feeling a little extra pressure because I’m trying to establish myself as the Cubs’ voice and as a newcomer to the city,’’ Kasper said. ‘‘Those games, I just remember being kind of stressed out. You want to get it right. It felt like those were the series where people were kind of comparing [Cubs and Sox] broadcasts.
‘‘I remember having a lot of fun and just feeling like there was a lot of intensity with those games. But I think the main thing for me was still trying to get my feet on the ground in terms of my work as the Cubs’ broadcaster.’’
Thirteen years later, Kasper’s feet are firmly on the ground, and he’ll be in the booth with Jim Deshaies on NBC Sports Chicago on Friday at Wrigley Field. The Sox’ broadcast for Game 1 will be on WGN-Ch. 9. First pitch is 1:20 p.m.
An interesting element of a Cubs-Sox series is fans’ ability to check on the opposing team’s broadcast. Cubs fans who enjoyed Steve Stone’s commentary during his 20 years with the team can get an earful this weekend.
Kasper said he realizes he might have some Sox fans in the audience, but he won’t change the broadcast too much.
‘‘Because they’re in our city and I’m a huge baseball fan, I follow them a little bit more closely than other teams around the league,’’ Kasper said. ‘‘But, for the most part, I’m focused on the Cubs, and the White Sox are just one of the 29 other teams.
‘‘I try not to overdo it, but I think maybe human nature is such that you might treat it slightly differently. And while Cub fans are our main audience, I always want to make sure that our broadcast is fair and that we’re not taking cheap shots at anybody because I personally don’t feel that’s the right way to do it.’’
Don’t expect any gimmicks, either. Such a unique series might lend itself to a crossover broadcast, allowing the teams’ TV crews to interact during the action. But Kasper rather would let the broadcast speak for itself.
‘‘When I started, there was a push occasionally to do something a little different, just because there were competing networks,’’ Kasper said. ‘‘I know the idea was to try to get as many eyeballs on our broadcast as possible. My philosophy has kind of changed over the years.
‘‘A lot of this stuff we do because people want to do it, and that’s fine. But I feel like we put our best foot forward every day, no matter what. So let’s do what we do, and if we want to add some bells and whistles in terms of extra cameras or an extra person to do a report in-game, I’m all for that. But the idea of kind of overdoing the production just for these games to me is not necessary because I feel very proud of the work we do for all of the games.’’