By Mick Gillispie / Smokies Radio Network
Tuesday was the start of a busy week for Len and me on Cubs.com. The game against the Giants marked the first of four straight games for us, and Tuesday was certainly a fun day. The Cubs and Giants played a day game in Scottsdale which is about eight miles or so from Mesa. Scottsdale Stadium is probably one of the nicest spring training ballparks. It is located right in old town Scottsdale and has a great feel to it. It is a very modern park, and I know fans love watching baseball there as much as we love calling games there.
My morning started in Mesa where I went to the Cubs morning media session at 8 a.m. I went through the Cubs clubhouse talking to different players and coaches to get prepared for the game. Following that, I went to Scottsdale to set up the equipment. While I was getting everything set upstairs, I looked out the window and saw my partner Len Kasper visiting with Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons, who now works for the MLB Network and MLB.com.
I went downstairs to wait on Cubs manager Dale Sveum’s pregame press gathering, and while I was waiting I bumped into another Hall of Famer: Giants great Willie McCovey.
I said hello to Willie before Dale made his comments to the media. I also spoke with Peter Gammons, and we had him as our featured guest on the United Airlines Leadoff Man Show.
Peter is a very knowledgeable baseball man. He has lots of stories, loves to talk baseball, and he gave some great insights into Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein from having covered him in Boston.
Great guests will be a theme for us this week on Cubs.com. Tuesday featured Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, today we’ll have Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, and tomorrow Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago will hop on air with us. Hopefully Friday we can get Bruce Levine of ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com.
With Paul Sullivan, it was great because he came in during the second inning and he and Len began their conversation. At times Paul was interviewing Len, and then Len would interview Paul! Both guys are of course very baseball-savvy and know the Cubs better than most.
While they were talking, Paul made reference to bloggers and random Cubs fans on Twitter. It turns out, someone made the blog they were talking about during the game, had it registered, and began tweeting before the broadcast was over! Cubs fans are no doubt loyal to their team, but they also have a terrific sense of humor, and it gave all of us laughs upstairs.
During the game I noticed Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts next door and he came on the air with us as well. Tom is a great guy that I really respect. I know he’s the owner of the ballclub but that’s not why I like him. He’s just a good guy that cares about the fans and really wants to win and bring a championship to Wrigley Field. He’s treated me with respect ever since we got to know each other a few years ago, and I’m thankful he’s given me this opportunity. It was great having him on air, and right out of the chute we had an all-star lineup of guests and the game wasn’t yet into the middle innings.
This got better because we had people coming in and out of the booth all game long. Giants voice Jon Miller dropped by and hung out with us between innings and it was good to see him again. On top of all of this, it was a great game between the Giants and Cubs, with Chicago winning 5-4. Former Smoky Alberto Cabrera got the save, and starter Chris Volstad looked sharp on the mound. Overall it was really a banner day full of great baseball, good friends, and a sellout crowd as well.
For me personally I stuck around the ballpark for a few more hours so I could do my radio show in Tuscaloosa. It was a long day, since I got there early and left late, but that’s why we do this job. The rest of the week will be easier travel-wise because the next three games are in Mesa.
One of the best parts of this job is getting to work and spend time with Len. I really learn a lot by working around such a great professional, a guy that’s been doing this for years. Sometimes you learn a lot just by observing him work, but he’s also good at answering questions and I know this experience will make me a better broadcaster.
That’s a wrap on a fun day in the desert. Today we’ll have the Brewers come to town, with first pitch at 4:05 p.m. ET / 3:05 p.m. CT as we’ll have the call on Cubs.com.