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As Cubs head into new era, Mick Gillispie would make a great addition to radio booth

As Cubs head into new era, Mick Gillispie would make a great addition to radio booth

Replacing Ron Santo is never going to be easy.  I think the Cubs tried with the folksy ex-Cub Keith Moreland but it wasn't quite the same.  Names I've heard fans throw around early on are a few more ex-Cubs: Kerry Wood, Mark Grace, and Doug Glanville.

But who says the next radio analyst has to be an ex-Cub?  Or even a ballplayer?

The Cubs are a team in transition.  They're a team that is trying to look forward, not backward.  Soon the team will be built in large part by players from their farm system.

Why not take a good look at an announcer who already is familiar with many of these Cubs to be?

I'm talking about the AA Tennessee Smokies announcer Mick Gillispie.  You may have heard him on MiLB.com or perhaps filling in for Bob Brenly in spring training.  When he's in AZ working with Len Kasper, he helps keep fans up to date on some of those players with those high numbers -- those lesser known prospects who aren't going to make the team that year, but who may contribute down the line.

Not many, if any, candidates are more in tune with the Cubs rebuilding process than Gillispie.  He's been right in the middle of it all. He's had the chance to announce games involving current big league players such as core players Starlin Castro, Welington Castillo, and Jeff Samardzija along with other current Cubs such as Junior Lake, Darwin Barney, Logan Watkins,  James Russell, Blake Parker, Chris Rusin, Brooks Raley, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, and others.

Last year he had the opportunity to be part of one of the better Smokies teams in recent years. The Smokies made a run at the Southern League title with a prospect-laden team led by Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

Of course, if he's hired, he'll miss (for now) guys like Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, and Jorge Soler, who are scheduled to arrive in Tennessee at some point next season but you can bet he's already done his homework. Gillispie fully understands what the Cubs are trying to do.  In fact, he talks about the prospects, the rebuilding process, and brodcasting in general here,

But it's not just about the prospects.

As you heard from the clip above, Gillispie announces with energy and knowledge of the game. He also does a terrific job keeping prospect hounds like myself up to date with the excellent smokiesonradio.com site and on Twitter. In an era where the internet and social media are rapidly becoming fans' main source of information, Gillispie is already ahead of the game in that field. No Cubs minor league team uses those mediums better than Gillispie and the Smokies.

It is such a logical choice to me. It'd be a move that would mirror the direction of this organization as a whole. And while it was fun looking back in the radio booth with Ron Santo and Keith Moreland the past few years, now seems the right time to start looking forward.

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  • Question: I do not know much about him, but one thing I hate from the Whitesox radio broadcast is that they are both color guys and not play by play. I know Pat is play by Play.......Can Mick do color???

  • In reply to Swmrdak79:

    He does the analyst spot in the spring with Len as play by play.

  • Glanville and Grace seem more like TV guys. Kerry would do well I think because he is relaxed with a little wit when interviewed, but I don't think he is interested for a couple reasons. First, he appears to be an exception to the ex-player refrain 'I want to spend more time with my family' as he actually wants to be more involved with his family. Going behind the Mike would entail lots of travel. Second, Wood seems to have developed a trust with front office boys as one sees him at the Milb playoffs draft etc. Gillespie is sounds like a natural.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed. I kind feel the same way about Wood. He's very popular and I'm sure he'd do a great job, but his kids are still very young and I believe he is genuine about wanting to be with them as well.

  • Great idea, John. You nailed this one. Gillispie is terrific. Only downside is not being able to hear him do the Smokies games.

  • In reply to BudMan:

    Thanks Bud man. We could probably dig around and see if we can find some of his work. I enjoyed his broadcasting with Tennessee though he would slide more into an analyst role with Pat Hughes. I think they'd pair up nicely. And who knows, maybe they groom Gillispie for play by play down the road.

  • Interesting idea, I really like it. For the first time this year I picked up the MiLBtv package and I watched a ton of Smokies games. Really enjoyed his work.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    Thanks Juicebox.

  • Im leaning towards Doug Glanville (seems like he brings an intelligent, metrics friendly approach to the game) but Gillespie sounds like he has a bright future in the game. Always good to see an up-and-comer get a shot, rather than retreads.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Glanville is intelligent and I think he'd pair up nicely with Hughes. I wouldn't mind that either, but Cubs seemed to be kind of cool on him for the TV job and he's got kind of a cushy job right now. I'm not sure on the interest level from both sides. If there is mutual interest, then I have to think he'll be a top candidate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey John, what do you think about Dave Otto? I always cracked up listening to them and thought both are extremely, intelligently witty. Not to mention great baseball minds paired together.

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    If you're not going to get an ex ball player then why not just promote Judd Sirott to that spot? He's paid his dues too.

    Frankly, I'd rather has an ex-player (doesn't have to be an ex-Cub) with some openness to analytics or just have Pat due the games by himself a la Vin Scully. Pat is more than capable. He's a pro's pro.

  • John, I don't think Mick has ever done color and that's what the radio needs, more than television needs it. And it is best when coming from a person who has played the game. As far as your position of looking forward. Sort of "off with the old and on with the new" "this is a new era". That only works until the man broadcasts his first game then it starts becoming the old thing again. Maybe a different old thing and a newer old thing, but still an old thing. I prefer Doug Glanville or Kerry Wood.

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    I think that's a disadvantage for him. Personally, I don't care as much about the player stories, but I do understand that a lot of people do.

  • Loved listening to Moreland.

  • I'm not familiar with Gillespie, as I haven't been able to listen to the Tenn. Smokies. By the way John, do they stream their games so I can listen? What's the link?

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    They are on milb.com. There's a link there for milb.tv. I'm not sure if they still have games archived but that would be a place to start if you are a subscriber.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just for general info, don't think they archive the audio but you can listen to the games on Milb for free; only the TV requires a subscription. Virtually all the minor league teams have streamed audio, on there.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Yes, good point.

  • Whoever the Cubs pick should be both entertaining and an effective communicator. Moreland seemed like a good guy and he did a so-so job, but he wasn't effective getting his point across without struggling. He wasn't very entertaining either, which a color person today needs to be, especially for a last place team.

  • I'm up for a change. I grew up listening to Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau and after returning to radio range after 21 years away, I found Hughes and Santo unlistenable. Moreland brought baseball back into the broadcast, but didn't make me want to turn on the radio. Hughes' schtick is old and I wouldn't complain if Gillespie replaced him. Would love a pair to talk baseball more and trying to be cute less.

  • In reply to Bucky:

    I love Hughes. I think he's great but I think the booth could use an infusion of youth and energy -- just like the Cubs themselves. I think Hughes and Gillispie would pair up nicely.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I love Hughes, too, but he's felt off since Ronnie died. I can't tell if that's Moreland or if that partnership was just special and transcended the sum of the parts.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Maybe but I think Hughes carried Santo a lot of the time. The difference is Santo just entertained us, so there was balance. There was a give and take. I think there can be that kind of give and take again with Gillispie and Hughes, just in a different way.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's possible. And Santo was so bad at his actual job -- providing insight into the players and their actions -- that you really can't argue that a non-player like Gillespie won't work. It's one of those pairings that will either work spectacularly or terribly.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    So glad someone else said it first. Santo was awful. I was in NYC when Risutto used to do the Yankees, and of course I was subjected to Harry Carry also. Why, oh why, do guys who are so completely incompetent get such highly sought after jobs. Now I live in LA. I hate the Dodgers, but what a pleasure to listen to Vince Scully: Clearly the best ever. Steve Stone was good, Bob Brebly was good. Moreland was bad, no way around that. Kasper is good. If Gillispie is good (I've never heard him) get him on.

    Nice idea to help a real pro get the the real pro job.

  • Gillespie sounds like a good fit broadcaster for the Cubs. Let's give him a shot.

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    This is completely pie in the sky, but I'd like to see them revamp the entire concept of the broadcast, at least on the tv side. Something like the sportscenter or mlb-tv approach, with the feed switching frequently to a team in studio to give highlights and analysis on other games in progress, with advanced stats and graphics, takes the monotony out of watching baseball on TV. It's been done the old way for close to 70 years, it's time for some fresh thinking.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Hmmm....that might be interesting. Maybe you are ahead of the game there. One issue is Cubs play so many day games that there isn't a lot of action going on otherwise. If the Cubs were to get their own network, they could probably do some interesting shows on statistics, history, more stuff around MLB, etc.

  • I'm one of the ones who enjoyed listening to Moreland. I like Gillispie but as a color man, I prefer a baseball person (player, manager, coach, etc). There are some insights that only someone who has been there can bring to the table. So I prefer a baseball guy but if it's a non-baseball guy, I'd be fine with Gillispie, although he would be sorely missed on Smokies' broadcasts.

  • Given WGN's history with the Cubs, the Cubs organization must hope for someone that is informative and entertaining with a winning personality. During all those years of bad baseball post Ernie Banks, it was the radio and TV announcers that helped keep the turnstiles spinning.

    Now that attendance is declining once again, I can't help but think that the lack of chemistry between Pat and Keith and the bland, vanilla broadcasts of Len and J.D. are contributing to it. If WGN wants to shake things up, I think J.D.'s personality is better suited to radio where he would mesh better with Pat, and then give Len someone like Barry Rozner or David Kaplan, who would speak their mind and say what the fans are thinking, like Harry used to do.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    I like this idea.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    I dunno though, Kap is a little old school for where they are headed. After watching the vid, Gillispie seems like a good choice.

  • I definitely like the idea of Gillispie. Another name to throw around might be Andy Masur, he currently is the Padres(?) radio guy I believe, but he used to be at WGN and did a few games in place of Pat.

  • I definitely prefer a baseball vet as opposed to an announcer, and certainly Glanville would be outstanding. He is articulate and knows the game and has a good sense of humor. Now if he could just say Geeezzz! when the Cubs screw up.
    Anyhow he would be greatly entertaining.
    I have nothing against Gillespie, he would be fine if we needed an announcer, but we need a color guy with experience, Cub experience preferably.

  • One question on Gillespie. Is he related to the former Milwaukee Braves announcer Earl Gillespie? Earl was great in the late '50s and '60s and is the brother of HOF basketball and baseball coach Gordie Gillespie.

  • Doubt it. His name is Gillispie.

  • One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that the radio contract is a bit in limbo right now. Whoever signs on to do this thing is taking on a little bit of risk, as the Cubs could change partners in the near future. (Not saying it's likely, but it's possible.) So whoever does take the job could be a transition person, at least for now. Hopefully it'll work out with someone who carries enough weight that he could hop onto another station if the Cubs choose to move on from WGN Radio.

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    Living in TN, close to the Smokies, I listen to Gillispie a lot. He is a throwback broadcaster, but with a great handle on all the new tools to engage fans. His videos, engagement on social media, etc. will make him an asset to whatever MLB team he ends up announcing for. If the Cubs is where he aspires to be, I wish him luck. But Mike Shannon is retiring too... :)

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    Y'know ... it really wouldn't be that far "out of the box" to hire Gillispie. In fact, Gillispie has a ton more experience that Thom Brennaman had when he was hired by WGN. Brennaman's only true broadcasting experience (aside from being the son of a long-time MLB announcer) was, as I recall, weekend sports anchor at a Cincy TV station.

  • That would be the smart choice. Let's hope someone in the organization, RICKETTS, reads Cubs Den.

  • Mark DeRosa just announced his retirement - is he an option you guys would consider...?

    He always struck me as being well spoken, interesting and informative when interviewed...

  • I've followed Cubs minor league games on the internet since the late 90s and have listened to most Cubs MiLB broadcasters since that time. There have been none better than Mick Gillispie.

    He paints a vivid picture of what's going on in the game and lets no detail go unreported. There's a great sense of fairness in how he calls the game but he gets excited when the Smokies or Cubs do something well, as he should. His passion is what sets him apart from all others, and this is what the Cubs need right now.

    His spring training games with Len are a must-listen and he does a wonderful job with guests and you can tell the Chicago media likes him a lot. At a time when the Cubs need all the positives they can get, hiring Gillispie would be a home run.

  • Cubs Den, you nailed this one about Mick. We have been wondering here in Tennessee when he will get a call up. Does the team make the pick?
    He paints the picture like Jack Brickhouse and not many do that anymore. Been a Cubs Fan my entire life growing up in Joliet and honestly think he would be a huge star if they go with him. I'm so tired if the losing and hope the Cubs spend some money to get better this off season.

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