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Enough of you, TBS
Cubs fans can't take anymore of D'back-lovin' Dick Stockton
By Stacy St. Clair | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/5/2007 12:27 AM

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By the end of the second inning, Naperville resident Kris Hastings had reached her limit.

The Cubs had fallen behind and she believed the TBS broadcasting crew was giddy about the Arizona Diamondbacks' lead. She could no longer tolerate what she perceived as play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton's favoritism toward the Phoenix-based team.

She hit the mute button on her TV remote and turned on WGN Radio, where the true-blue voices of Pat Hughes and Ron Santo offered instant comfort. The radio broadcast was a second or two ahead of her television, but she didn't care.

"I just couldn't take it anymore," she said. "I felt like the TBS crew wanted the Diamondbacks to win."

Such accusations are commonplace when teams enter the postseason and national broadcasters replace those employed by the Major League clubs. In 2005, for example, White Sox fans accused ESPN of favoring the Red Sox during the division series.

Cubs Nation, however, was so outraged by perceived slights on the TBS broadcast Wednesday that fans spent the day complaining about it on talk radio. They blasted the cable station for mispronouncing several players' names, calling the team "lovable losers" and harping on the dust-up between pitcher Carlos Zambrano and former catcher Michael Barrett.

"You could tell they really didn't know anything about our team," Bartlett resident Deb Hagerty said. "I thought they did a really poor job."

Hagerty turned on the radio Wednesday night, but it was so far ahead of the television broadcast that she knew Zambrano had struck out someone before he even threw the ball on her screen.

"It was just too hard to watch it that way," she said.

WGN Radio responded to the fan outcry by delaying its broadcast of Game 2 Thursday by several seconds to come closer to the signal broadcast by TBS. While the delay improved the proximity of the radio and TV broadcasts, it's impossible to match the audio for all viewers because of the various cable, satellite and television systems in use.

WGN program director Bob Shomper said he had toyed with the idea on Wednesday but felt a sense of urgency to get it done after listening to callers complain about Stockton and TBS analyst Ron Darling.

"It wasn't on my list of things to do (Thursday), but I spent the entire day working on it," he said. "We could tell right away it was going to be something people wanted."

The station will broadcast the game in real time during this weekend's home games so as not to penalize the fans who like to listen to the game at Wrigley Field. Should there be a Game 5 in Phoenix next week, WGN will again delay the broadcast.

Though the move pacifies some, media critic Steve Rhodes -- a Cubs fan himself -- believes complaints about TBS' coverage are unfounded. Mispronouncing a relief pitcher's name and reliving a dugout brawl should not be viewed as personal affronts to the North Side, he said.

"Those are Cubs fans being a bunch of whiny babies," he said. "Being a Cubs fan is about facing the ugly realities of the world. If you don't like that, then turn on your radio and listen to Ron Santo babble about things that have nothing to do with the game."

And that's exactly what Hastings did Thursday night. In the comfort of her living room, the radio offered her something the TBS crew didn't: sympathy.

"It's nice to hear Ron Santo's voice, especially when things are going bad," she said. "He hurts just like all Cubs fans do."