Catching Up With Cubs Broadcaster Jim Deshaies: Part 2 of 2

Catching Up With Cubs Broadcaster Jim Deshaies: Part 2 of 2

In part one of our interview with third-year Chicago Cubs color man Jim Deshaies, we talked about the current Cubs team and his thoughts on the roster, the team’s holes to fill and Joe Maddon’s first year. Today JD talks about his first full major league season on the 1986 Astros, his thoughts on today’s game from the perspective of a former player, changing allegiances from one team to another as a broadcaster and taking an HGTV approach to battling off-season boredom.

For more from JD between games, follow him on Twitter at @JimDeshaies.

 

You had the Astros rookie record for wins in 1986 on a pretty stacked rotation. You also had the same number of wins and a lower ERA than Nolan Ryan. What did you take away from that season?

That was a good group of a lot of veteran guys,  and between platoon players and switch hitters, we were able to compete every night. We were a good offensive team. Glenn Davis was second in MVP voting that year (eked out by Mike Schmidt), and Mike Scott won the Cy Young.

It was magical for us because expectations weren’t that high. Coming into the season, most people had us picked to finish fifth in six-team division, and we ended up winning the NL West.

My takeaway was, “Hey, this is easy.” It’s my first full year in the big leagues and we go to the postseason where we got beaten in an unbelievable series with the Mets. We had game six, which went 16 innings and Mike Scott ready to go in game seven. He pretty much owned the Mets, so I am sure had we gone to game seven, we would have gone to the World Series.

I remember thinking after that game, “That really stunk that we lost, but we’ll be back.” We never did, and I never made it to the postseason again.

So my takeaways are two things: enjoy it while you’re there because you never know if it’s going to happen again, and this game can be difficult to predict sometimes.

 

Are there any parts of the game today, especially when it comes to pitching, which frustrate you as a former player?

We always have these debates, like with Junior Lake and the bat toss and that dust-up, but that kind of stuff has been going on forever. I’m not a big fan of some of the behaviors of the modern player, but that’s just the nature of the game.

I’m glad they’re addressing the pace of the game. Not even as much as a former player, but as a broadcaster and a fan of the game, I think a 3:20 nine-inning game is a little much. Speeding the game up is a good idea, and it seems to be working.

Beyond that, not much.

 

As a broadcaster with the Astros for many years and as a former player with that team, what is the transition like to switch allegiances? What attracted you to the Cubs job?

As a broadcaster with the team you cover, it’s a lot more fun when they’re winning. I still pay attention to the Astros and hope they do well, so I haven’t completely divorced myself from them. That’s where I played the most during my career and spent a lot of time as a broadcaster, so I’m still interested in what’s going on down there.

As a broadcaster, I come in with the idea that the team I am covering I want to see do well. I want them to win, but I don’t live and die, like a player would, with every single game. You have to bring a little bit of that objectivity to it. It’s fun to just dig into the story line.

The parts that attracted me to Chicago were the ballpark, the city and the story. Coming here, as a visiting player and broadcaster, Chicago was always my favorite city, and I loved doing games at Wrigley.

The job was attractive because my thinking was, if the Cubs ever get it right and win, it would be a lot of fun to watch the city come alive.

blackhawks 2013 stanley cup celebrationIn my first year in town, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, so I got to witness that whole party. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “If the Cubs ever won, this place would go nuts.”

It’s getting close, so that is going to be a lot of fun.

 

In-booth chemistry is a huge thing for a broadcast team, and you and Len seem to have that. Did you have a feeling that would be the case before you took the job? Have you changed your approach in any way to work with Len?

I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought when I was talking with the Cubs. I knew Len a little bit because he had been in the league a while, and I always enjoyed talking with him. I just figured we would sort it out. I didn’t know if it would come quickly or if it would take a little while.

Our chemistry has gotten better each year. I think it was fine to start.

This was a chance to come to Chicago, and I knew Len had a really good reputation as a broadcaster, so I wasn’t really worried about it, and I think it’s been seamless.

 

How’s the pillow-gami coming along?

It’s amazing what you will do in the offseason! I was just sitting there one day kind of throwing the bed together, and I thought, “Well, I’ll just put this one here and that one there.”

That’s when it hit me, and I said, “If I can’t play golf in the wintertime in Chicago, we need the baseball season to get started pretty fast here, before I lose my mind.”

 

The evidence:

 

 

HGTV has enough unnecessary shows, so please, when you hit your knees tonight, say a little prayer that Jim doesn’t lose his mind.

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