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Columnist
Brenly gets deal to stay with Cubs
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist

Len Kasper, left, and Bob Brenly

 

Steve Stone

 

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Published: 9/14/2008 12:04 AM

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Steve Stone's move to the White Sox' TV booth was hardly shocking - but long overdue.

And on the day the Sox announced Stone's six-year contract, the man who replaced Stone on the North Side got a new deal of his own.

Bob Brenly, whose contract was set to expire in a few weeks, has agreed to a four-year extension worth in the neighborhood of $3.5 million, the same as the deal that brought him here when Brenly and Len Kasper replaced Stone and Chip Caray after the ugly 2004 season.

There have been whispers over the past few weeks that the Cubs might entertain the notion of bringing back Stone if Brenly didn't sign a new deal or found a managing job.

But sign he did, and Chicago baseball is now guaranteed the two best color analysts in all of baseball for a long time.

"I can think of a lot worse things to do for living,'' Brenly laughed Saturday, as he awaited word on where and when the Cubs would play next. "I'm lucky to have Len. He makes my job so easy. He's a pro. Me? I just try not to swear on the air.''

Kasper insists it's Brenly who makes the broadcast work.

"He's the whole package. He's brilliant baseball-wise, he's got a great sense of humor, and he's no maintenance on the air and behind the scenes. He's everything you'd want in a broadcast partner,'' said Kasper, who has a year left on his deal. "I hope Bob stays a long time, for selfish reasons, but I also know he'd be a great manager.''

Brenly, who won a World Series with Arizona in 2001, says that's not as likely as it was a couple of years ago.

"That itch isn't quite as bad as it used to be, and with passing time and not having an agent and being out of that loop, I don't know,'' Brenly said. "I'd never say never, but it would have be the right team and the right situation.''

Brenly and Kasper have become a huge hit on the North Side, though it didn't happen overnight.

"There's a big adjustment there for us, and especially for the fans, and Stoney was so popular and so good,'' Brenly said. "But I think with each passing year, the comfort level grew.

"It certainly doesn't hurt for the team to win, either. You can be exactly the same broadcaster and when the team is losing, it doesn't sound too good. Fortunately for everyone involved, the last couple years have been much better.''

A Stone's throw

As good as he sounded with Ed Farmer on radio, the Sox had no choice but to elevate Steve Stone to the TV booth, where Hawk Harrelson had completely given up - understandably - on trying to make that broadcast work.

Stone will add years to Harrelson's career and remind him of how good he once was on the South Side.

"The few games we did last year,'' Stone said, "I thought our chemistry was exceptional.''

It was, but you won't hear Stone joining in when Harrelson makes a home run call, as does Darrin Jackson.

"Not gonna happen,'' Stone said Saturday. "Hawk will have to put it on the board by himself.''

Big break I

While Hurricane Ike ravaged the Gulf Coast and turned millions of lives upside down, the reality is, the monster storm also was a monster break for the Cubs.

Physically and mentally exhausted, some time away was just what the club needed, and it may be the kind of emotional holiday that changes the fortunes of many struggling Cubs, like Derrek Lee, Kosuke Fukudome, Jim Edmonds, Kerry Wood and many others.

The Cubs have been gripping the bats so tight and squeezing the ball so hard that the pressure - not to mention fan expectations - has been getting to them.

I've often thought the 10-day break the Blackhawks got from micromanaging maniac Mike Keenan, during the strike in April 1992, contributed as much to their Stanley Cup Finals run as any other factor. It was like an in-season vacation.

And in 1984, a Saturday rainout in St. Louis, when the Cubs were feeling the heat, gave them the time they needed to breathe, and they promptly won their next three to clinch the division.

No one roots for what happened to Houston, but it happened, and it's possible you may see the Cubs return more relaxed and rested than they've been in months.

Big Break II

The Astros had won six in a row and 14 out of 15, and the last thing they wanted to do was stop playing, so it's also to the Cubs' benefit that the games were halted.

Now, you've got a Houston club focused on anything but baseball, worried about their homes and families and little things like when they can find gas for the car and have power restored.

On top of that, playing in Milwaukee - if that's where they play - will be no less a Cubs home game than at Wrigley Field, removing yet another advantage from Houston and placing it firmly in the Cubs' lap.

Fighting Irish

One game does not a redemption make, but Charlie Weis sure didn't look Saturday like the fool he'd been made out to be before the victory over the Wolverines.

Michigan is admittedly a mess in a down year, and Mother Nature helped considerably, but whether it was the shadow of Touchdown Jesus or the monsoon that hit South Bend, the Irish played like they cared, they showed up, and the crowd cheered like it was at a Notre Dame football game for the first time in a long time.

Just thinking

Panthers 26, Bears 22.

And finally -

NBC's Conan O'Brien: "They were having trouble picking jurors in O.J. Simpson's armed robbery trial. The judge says they want a jury of O.J.'s peers, but it's hard to find anyone else who got away with double murder.''

brozner@dailyherald.com