(MCT) — Jim Deshaies is learning quickly about the lofty expectations that accompany being the Cubs’ TV analyst.
The former major league pitcher wasn’t in town more than a few minutes when the first fan he encountered gave him some advice.
“This is the cool thing about Chicago — everybody’s into the Cubs,” said Deshaies, who was introduced to the media Wednesday at Wrigley Field after signing a four-year agreement to replace Bob Brenly in the booth for WGN-TV, CSN and WCIU-Ch. 26.
“(On Tuesday), I’m checking into the rental car (agency) and this lady is helping me out and I slide my license and I say, ‘Jim Deshaies’ and the other cashier, his eyes pop up: ‘I just heard you on the radio. You know you have to be critical here.’”
And then there was Cubs executive Crane Kenney, who during Wednesday’s news conference called Deshaies “the guy who will call the next World Series team for the Cubs.”
At 52, that remains to be seen for Deshaies. But he fully understands the scrutiny and expectations that come along with such a high-profile job in a city that hasn’t seen a World Series title on the North Side in more than a century.
“There are great baseball fans everywhere,” Deshaies said. “Houston has great baseball fans. (But) there is a bigger core of die-hard, passionate Cubs fans here. You have to be aware of that but you have to do your own thing and assume that’s going to work.”
Deshaies spent the last 16 seasons in the Astros’ TV booth before jumping at the chance to join the Cubs.
“It was tough to leave (Houston),” said Deshaies, who pitched for the Astros for seven of his 10-plus seasons in the big leagues. “You don’t leave that situation easily. You leave it when you have the best opportunity that there is in the game for guys who do what I do. You get one rodeo — you live once, (so) have some fun and enjoy the journey. When this came up ... it’s a little better rodeo.”
Kenney said the search for the replacement for Brenly, who left to join the Diamondbacks broadcast team, focused on a candidate who can carry on the tradition of knowledgeable and colorful announcers.
“We’re really privileged every year to welcome 3 million fans into our ballpark to see the game in person. But because of Superstation WGN we also welcome 70 million households to our broadcast every year,” Kenney said. “The two people calling those games are really our ambassadors.
“They’ve been treated over the years to some great, insightful, intelligent, colorful, humorous analysts,” Kenney added. “That tradition was something we really looked to carry forward for our fans.”