Inside The Ivy: You just wrapped up your first season in the Cubs’ TV booth. Was it everything you expected?
Bob Brenly: Ultimately by the end of the season, I was very satisfied. Coming into the situation, due to what happened last year and how everything transpired to get Len Kasper and I to where we were, it was a little touchy early on. I think Len and I were both trying to be careful not to step on any toes. As the season went on and we got more comfortable -- and the fans, Dusty Baker and his players got more comfortable with us -- as those relationships continued to get better, I thought our broadcasts continued to get better.
Inside The Ivy: Did it take some getting used to--getting back into the frame of everyday broadcasting?
Bob Brenly: Other than just the grind of day-to-day stuff, no. I actually prefer the day-ty-day grind, though, because you get a better feel for the team. When you’re doing nationally televised stuff, even within a seven-game playoff series certain patterns begin to develop. You start to learn more about a team over that span. Over the course of 162 games, covering the same team every day, that’s one of the most interesting parts of the game to me. You get to see certain guys, Matt Murton for instance, develop into their own. There are also some players who don’t do what you thought they would. To watch the peaks and valleys of a season is very exciting.
Inside The Ivy: Sitting in the bleachers doing a broadcast is always something people pay closer attention to. How did the broadcast go from your perspective?
Bob Brenly: It got a little wet at the end. [laughing] I have to be honest about something. When we first went out there, there were some people who were regulars in that seating area who were upset to have to give up their seats. We certainly didn’t mean to offend or inconvenience anyone. As we speak, I’m talking to John McDonough (Vice President of Marketing and Broadcasting) about trying to rectify that. As far as the telecast, it was awesome. Hearing some of the chants the bleacher fans drop on the opposing left fielder and the positive energy out there, it was great to be a part of that.
Inside The Ivy: What was the best moment you had in the booth all year?
Bob Brenly: There were a lot of good individual ones. Watching Greg Maddux get his 3,000th strikeout was a big one. Watching Derrek Lee on a daily basis was also a lot of fun. I saw players with good streaks during the season, but with Derrek there were only a few isolated spells where he didn’t swing the bat great all year long. He came into his own this year. The closest thing to D-Lee that I remember was in ’93 when Barry Bonds had a monstrous season, just as he did about every year with the Giants. Even when I was broadcasting with the Cubs in 1990, Andre Dawson had a stellar season. The Hawk’s season was very similar to Derrek’s this year in that he never cooled off. The second game in Houston on this last road trip to end the year was also very excited. The Cubs played with a lot of emotion over the last three days even though we weren’t going anywhere.
Inside The Ivy: What was the most agonizing moment in the booth from a Cubs perspective?
Bob Brenly: Well, we had a two-hour rain delay before one of the games started, then a couple during the game. We were on WGN and had to fill the time during the rain delays. It’s just hard to fill that much time on the spur of the moment. You grab Oneri Fleita, or whoever you can find -- Mike Kiley, Paul Sullivan, et cetera -- and it’s kind of a “seat of the pants” variety show when you go into a long delay. It can be a little nerve-racking. As for an individual game, it was the road trip where we ended up losing two of three in Colorado. Losing to the Rockies, especially on getaway day, was pretty much the beginning of the end to me.
Inside The Ivy: Now the all-important question: are you interested in managing again one day?
Bob Brenly: Possibly. At this point, it would have to be an ideal situation. I’ve seen so many friends in this game -- Buddy Bell comes to mind –- that were so anxious to get back into the game that they walked right into an un-winnable situation. I do not want to put myself in a position like that. As much as I love the game, the situation would have to be absolutely perfect and there are very few perfect situations out there right there. I’m content with what I’m doing now, but if an opportunity presented itself, it’s always a possibility. For now, I’m looking forward to three more years here in the Cubs’ booth. I enjoy it here.
Inside The Ivy: What area does the Cubs need the most improvement on in the off-season, in your opinion?
Bob Brenly: Even if you have a staff full of Cy Young candidates, I think every team in baseball can never have enough good pitching. Every team will be looking at pitching I think. For me personally, having watched every game, the Cubs have to improve their defense. There were way too many extended innings and giving a team four to six outs an inning for me to count. At the major league level, if you put that kind of pressure on a pitcher, it not only runs their pitch counts up, it makes them vulnerable. Not backing up bases and covering bases were just a few things lacking. It often creates too much to overcome and puts too much pressure on the offense.
Inside The Ivy: How is your son, Michael, doing? He was drafted by the organization last June.
Bob Brenly: He signed a letter of intent to go to UNLV and is very excited to play Division 1-A baseball with an opportunity to start as a freshman there. If he does well in fall practice and swings the bat well, he has a chance to start. We’re very excited about that.
Inside The Ivy: We understand you’re going to be doing some more post-season work for FOX again this year. Tell us a little about your role with them.
Bob Brenly: It’s going to be pretty similar to what I’ve done in the past. I’ll be doing the NLCS again this year with Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons. Thom is the traffic cop who’ll create opportunities for Pyscho (Lyons) and I. Thom is good at putting it on a tee for us. It’ll be much the same as in the past. We look at it as an equal three-man booth. Steve has been very gracious about welcoming me in. A lot of broadcasters would look at it as a threat, but Psycho has a great attitude and I think we work well together.
Inside The Ivy: You’ve said before that the National League has no clear-cut favorite this season. Now that we're getting down to brass tacks, who do you see emerging and making it into the World Series?
Bob Brenly: It’s hard not to look at St. Louis with the year they’ve had. They got off to a great start and have all the right guys. Their starting pitching struggled through September, so there has to be a little bit of concern if you’re Tony LaRussa. On the other hand, with Clemens, Pettitte, Oswalt and Lidge, if Houston can score a run or two each game, they’ll be very dangerous. It’s all about pitching and defense at this point in the season and they’re playing as well as anybody. It’s just a question of whether Biggio can get on, Taveras can bunt him over and Berkman can drive him in.
Inside The Ivy: And in the American League?
Bob Brenly: Well, all of the teams have warts. The Red Sox bullpen is questionable at best. I think you can never completely shut down Manny Ramirez or David Ortiz, but if you can sort of control them, I think the Red Sox are vulnerable. Randy Johnson has been good lately for the Yankees, but you have a $208 million payroll propped up by Aaron Small, so there’s a lot of question with the pitching staff there. By far, they have the best club going in offensively. This is why they make the big bucks and it’s usually the time of year where they start turning it on. I haven’t seen the Angels much, but I’m a big Mike Scioscia fan. To answer the question, it’s wide open. If the White Sox get good pitching as they did in the beginning of the year, and find a way to score a run much like the Astros, they can be very dangerous. It’s wide open.