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I’m still digesting the reality that Bob Brenly will not be in the booth for the Cubs next year. It’s easy to feel like, on the one hand, it isn’t really a big deal – Bob doesn’t play in the games, he doesn’t pick the players, he doesn’t set the lineups.

But, still.

This is the guy who, together with Len Kasper, at least on the television side, has been one of the primary vehicles by which we’ve taken in Cubs games. He’s been a huge part of what it is to “watch a Cubs game” for the last eight years. I enjoyed his candor, his insight, his humor, and his ability to make terrible baseball watchable.

The only solace I’ll take in Bob’s departure is that, eight years ago, I was almost disconsolate that Steve Stone was leaving. At the time, I thought it impossible that anyone could adequately replace Stone as the Cubs’ color man, let alone surpass him.

Today, I think it is impossible that anyone could adequately replace Brenly. Let’s hope lightning strikes twice.

As for the rest of the Cubs world, they’re still digesting the departure, too. Among the relevant items …

  • Brenly, himself, offered some more thoughts on his time with the Cubs, per the Tribune: “It was great fun. It was the experience of a lifetime in my professional career, as much ridiculous fun as is humanly possible. The people I worked with, the crew and everyone were all great. I was grateful for the chance and the joy of working at Wrigley Field. And I was extremely fortunate to work with Len Kasper, who undoubtedly is one of the best play-by-play men in the game.”
  • Brenly’s now-former partner Len Kasper said he was “bummed” by the news (again, per the Tribune): “Lots of great moments to cover, a ton of laughs on and off the air as well. Today is certainly a reminder of how fleeting life is. I wish just the bad stuff were fleeting, but the good stuff is too. Wherever he goes, his next partner hit the jackpot …. I don’t doubt there will be a huge group of incredibly talented people who will apply for the job, which I think is the best job in baseball. Whoever gets it will be welcomed with open arms and we will carry on. But Bob’s stamp on our booth and our broadcasts is a permanent one.”
  • Bruce Levine follows the theme, and sounds a little bummed about the loss of Brenly.
  • Paul Sullivan listed a number of possible replacements, as did Bruce Levine. Sullivan names Mark Grace, Rick Sutcliffe, Todd Hollandsworth, Kerry Wood, Steve Lyons, Steve Stone, Eric Karros, Sarge Matthews and Darrin Jackson. Levine lists Hollandsworth, Stone, Wood, Sutcliffe, Keith Moreland, and Dave Campbell. I’m surprised that neither mentioned Mitch Williams, Dan Plesac or Doug Glanville, because I’d think they’d each get some consideration. Early thoughts: Grace and Wood seem like non-starters, Stone seems unlikely to come back, and guys like Moreland, Hollandsworth and Glanville might be a touch green.
  • Brenly was the highest paid local color man in the game (according to multiple reports, Brenly was making $900K per year), so it’s not as though the budget isn’t there to bring in a top name. That, however, isn’t absolutely necessary, of course. Just someone good. Please, someone good.
  • Speaking of which, there are likely to be growing pains, even if the choice is a seasoned vet. Maybe 2013 is going to be rebuilding on all levels.

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