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Broadcaster Bob Brenly came close to staying with Cubs before joining D-backs

President baseball operations Theo Epsteparticipates Cubs’ spring-training bunting tournamnet. | GordWittenmyer~Sun-Times

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein participates in the Cubs’ spring-training bunting tournamnet. | Gordon Wittenmyer~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 18, 2013 7:12AM



MESA, Ariz. — Bob Brenly said he’s having a good time with the
Arizona Diamondbacks, even wearing a D-backs cap while watching son Michael take batting practice Saturday with the Cubs.

But the popular former Cubs broadcaster never wanted to leave Chicago and, in fact, came so close to a five-year extension with
WGN-TV last fall that he and his family went out to dinner to celebrate the agreement.

‘‘We ran up a pretty good tab at Joe’s Stone Crab because we thought we had a deal done,’’ Brenly said. ‘‘But because of the length of the current TV contract, nobody was willing to guarantee the rest of the deal.’’

Industry sources give the same account: Because the Cubs are
expected to opt out of their TV deal with WGN after the 2014
season, the network sought protection against getting stuck with guaranteed contracts and no broadcast rights — though it’s hard to imagine a new rights-holder not bringing back Brenly and broadcast partner Len Kasper.

‘‘I’d like to think that after eight years, we probably would have been able to stick around a few more,’’ Brenly said. ‘‘But there was no guarantee that could happen. We tried to go a number of different ways to see if we couldn’t firm some things up for the final three years of the contract, but it just didn’t come together.’’

Even then, Brenly probably still would be in Chicago if not for former Cub Mark Grace’s DUI arrest that eventually cost him his job on the D-backs’ broadcast team.

‘‘The Diamondbacks were in a situation where they were in dire straits in their broadcast booth,’’ said Brenly, who began talking with D-backs president Derrick Hall and eventually agreed to a five-year contract to do games for the same organization he managed to a World Series title in 2001. ‘‘They were willing and able to guarantee into the future a lot further than the Cubs were able to.’’

Brenly raved about the quality and sense of humor of his replacement in the Cubs’ booth, Jim Deshaies.

‘‘I think the world of him, and
obviously Len is as good as it gets as far as play-by-play guys go,’’ Brenly said. ‘‘So if anybody does miss me, it’s not going to last long.’’

NOTE: Manager Dale Sveum said left-hander Travis Wood will start the Cubs’ Cactus League opener Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels, with right-hander Jeff Samardzija going in the Cubs’ home opener Sunday against the San Francisco Giants.



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