Hanging with the cool: Len Kasper

Hanging with the cool: Len Kasper

 

This is hopefully the start of a new series. Every month or so, I'm gonna exchange some e-mails with people associated directly or non-directly with the Cubs. And what a way to start. Len Kasper has been the voice of the Cubs since 2005. And his mixture of sabre metrics, rock n' roll, and passion for the game of baseball make him one of the best listens going. I reached out to talk about his new partner, the new regime, and a whole smorgasboard of topics. Len reached back. Here's what followed.

 

Felzz: As a person who loves sabermetrics, baseball, rock n' roll, you must have jumped out of your shorts when Theo was hired. What a perfect match. Frankly, I think your broadcasts have gotten stronger since he came on board. How has your job changed since Theo-Jed-Pi Epsilom has taken over....?

Len Kasper: Interesting question.  I don't know if the broadcasts have changed much.  I mean, they will change this year just because I have a new partner but I guess the biggest thing last year was that it felt like the beginning of something, not the end.  And 2010 and 2011 definitely had that feel of a window closing with a bunch of veterans who were nearing the end of their time in Chicago.  So, on that front, I guess the ability to more specifically look ahead and kind of know what's coming made our jobs a little easier.

On the first part of your question, it has been really fun to get to know Theo and Jed and Jason McLeod.  All young, incredibly bright guys.  I would add Shiraz Rehman and Scott Harris and a host of others to that mix.  They're all younger than I am which is bizarre for me to think about, but I have learned a ton from all of them about the game, scouting, analyzing performance.  And they've all been incredibly generous with their time.  And yes, most are music fans and since we come from the same era, there is a lot in common on that front!

Felzz: Well if the first couple of broadcasts are any indication, the new partnership is going to work out just fine. I'm looking forward to seeing how Jim looks at pitching things differently as a former pitcher where Bob saw things from the other side of the battery.

One thing that's obvious is Jim's love of advance stats. I thought "Geek Sundays" was a rousing success last year. Will that be advanced this year? More like a sabermetrics 202? Or will it be a continuation of what worked last year?

Also, are you going to put Jim Deshais through the away-ballpark-food gauntlet like you did with Bob? The "You know Jim, Bob's record for Rocky Mountain Oysters was nine...." kind of thing?

LK: JD does like to talk about advanced metrics, so you can bet we will be having more of those types of discussions this season.  As I always say, it's important to keep in mind that baseball is best digested as a narrative when it comes to broadcasting, so we never want to stray too far away from the game, but the numbers do matter, so where they fit, we will discuss.

On the Sunday question, we aren't going to continue Stats Sunday per se, but we hope to simply do more of those things on every broadcast as I mentioned above.  We will add a run expectancy chart that we will drop in occasionally as well.  We are planning to do a Sunday theme again but I am not at liberty to discuss.  It is a secret that is being held captive at Fort Knox as we speak.  It is so secretive, I don't even know if such a plan actually exists.

And yes, we will make sure JD finishes the season either 1) 40 pounds heavier or 2) at the point where he has to run marathons to work off all the new food we will throw at him.  I agree he has to try some Rocky Mountain Oysters.  Kind of a right of passage in our booth I think.

Felzz: Here here, JD's going to be Terry Forster size or bust I say.

Speaking of narrative, Is it as easy as calling the games and drawing conclusions from what you see? Or are there special stories that you have earmarked to look at and discuss during the season? I personally want to see what James Rowson does with a spring training under his belt...What are some of yours? And how do you keep the focus on the team when so many good stories will take place in Daytona, Kane County, and (hopefully) Des Moines. (Brett Jackson's gonna make the Rizzo leap, Brett Jackson's gonna make the Rizzo leap. Brett jackson's gonna make the Rizzo leap.... If I say it enough len, it's gonna come true.) ?

Len Kasper: I honestly never have any pre-planned season story lines that I specifically plan to follow.  I just go into every game and try to 1) cover that game and 2) that day's story-lines.  Of course, bigger trends and story lines emerge as you move along and I do think there's been more of an emphasis on the Cubs' minor league prospects over the past year or so, but I don't believe anything will fundamentally change this season just because some of the focus is on development.

Felzz: Alright Len, Bullet round time.....Fill in the blanks.

Starlin Castro will have a slash line of ___/___/___ and hit __ home runs in 2013.

LK: Starlin Castro will have a slashline of 301/340/450 and hit 18 home runs in 2013

Flz:  The last album I downloaded/bought and absolutely loved was __________.

LK: Apex Manor's The Year of Magical Drinking.

Flz:  The sabermetric that draws the weirdest looks when I say it out loud in public is__________.

LK: BABIP

Flz: Cub fans are going to be pleasantly surprised by ___________ this year.

LK: How quickly they decide they love my new partner.

Flz: If there wasn't such things as waistlines, cholesterol levels, parking spaces, or wait times, I would eat at _____________ everyday.

LK: Any breakfast diner that serves egg skillets.

Flz:  The best baseball writer writing today is ______________.

LK: Joe Sheehan

Flz:  The only team I think can beat the Blackhawks 4 games out of 7 is the __________

LK: Ducks (or Bruins).

Flz: When Pearl Jam takes the stage this summer at Wrigley, I hope they open with ___________.

LK: All The Way (Eddie's Cubs song)

Flz:  Aug. 1st Matt Garza will be ____________

LK: Still reading his name in trade reports.

Flz:  The Ultimate Len Kasper All Star Jam band would feature

LK: Clem Burke on drums, Len Kasper on bass, and Tommy Keene on guitar.

Felzz: Thank you Len, we now have two minutes for your closing thoughts….

Len Kasper: As bad as a 101-loss season seems, last year wasn't as painful as most people think it should have felt.  That's because I really feel like we were on the ground floor of something that will grow into a powerhouse and that the Cubs came by their struggles with a bigger purpose in mind--establishing a foundation of fundamentally-sound baseball from top to bottom.  We are still a couple years away from seeing it pay off, but I am thoroughly enjoying watching the plan come together.

 

 

Filed under: Interviews, Uncategorized

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  • Holy cow! I've really liked Len Kasper from the day he got to Chicago, and he seems to get better every year. That he would so diligently participate in this exercise speaks yet more good things about the man.

    And Felzz, good interview, I enjoyed it. Nice Terry Forster reference. Although, speaking for myself, I might have gone with Paul Reuschel.

  • In reply to JerryMartin28:

    Great interview. I think Kasper is a really good play by play guy. Calls the game well and adds enough to the give and take with the color man that things move along.

    I might have gone with an Eric Gregg reference... heh.

  • Great stuff, Felz. Really enjoyed reading this.

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    Man, all he ever sent me was a restraining order. :(

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    How many doe that make for you now Mike?......Ha ha.

    I keed. I keed.

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    In reply to felzz:

    Baker's dozen. But Nicole Kidman was a total misunderstanding.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    You and Tom Cruise, your in good company.

  • Thanks Jerry.

    I briefly thought Carlos Villanueva or even J'marcus Webb. But decided to keep it Baseball...

  • Great read! Thanks.

  • Man, Len has really grown on me during the past few seasons. He just went up a few notches in my book for doing this interview AND being really cool with his answer.

  • Feld, great idea with this series. Thoroughly enjoyed this. Cubs Den has become far and away the best place for things Cubs. And another reason why I can't wait for the season to start.

    I too have come to really enjoy Len Kasper. Knowledgable, witty and even hip to boot. And Len agreeing to do this shows both how cool he is and how esteemed this site has become.

    I'm in the minority on this but I was not a fan of Brenly. Sure he has forgotten more about the game than I'll ever know, but he was dry and boring and not a Cub, but a D-Back so he's now where he belongs.

  • First off, thank you nondorf. Just trying to add some dimension to what John and Tom have done here. I think this will be a cool series. Already have some ideas for who the next guests are.

    Disagree with you on Brenly. He was a Cub for several years before being an announcer. He has ties, maybe stronger ties with the Giants and the D-Backs. But him and len were a good team and got stronger. But change is a good thing. And you can't help but notice the excitement in len's words when he talks about working with JD...

    Less than two weeks till opening day....

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    Wow. That was really cool.

  • Great job Felzz! Fun interview

  • Cool. Glad you liked it. Might need your contacts to keep this series rolling at some point... Haha.

  • This is a great idea, Felzz. Up close and personal contact with a guy like Kasper is not only fun, but informative as heck. Aren't we fortunate to have him as opposed to Harrelson?

  • Cool. Glad you like it.

    I could have exchanged e-mails with him for awhile. But didn't want to over do it.

    Hawk can be a bit much at times. But his passion for the game is pretty strong too. But, yeah, I'm definitely happy with the announcer we have with the Cubs.

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    Awesome interview Felzzy! Great job!

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    Nice job, Felzz. And thank you Len.

  • Well done, Adam. How did you ever get Len to join a dunderhead like you for an interview?

  • In reply to SamFels:

    I know a guy who knows a guy......

  • I quit working at shoprite and now I make $35h - $80h...how? I'm working online! My work didn't exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn't be happier. Heres what I do, Bam21.cℴm

  • In reply to VeronicaFansen28:

    Yeah, I thought I saw you online the other night, VeronicaFansen28 Nice work, btw, with the butternut squash. I didn't think it was gonna make it all the way in.

    Can't wait to see who Felzz comes up with next month.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    The butternut squash was definitely more towards the $80/hr end of things (no pun intended)...

    I am too.

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    Nice interview! I have the same Ibanez bass (in black)!

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