Bernstein: Cubs Broadcast Will Be Better Without Santo

By Dan Bernstein–

Within a few days or so, we will know which former Cub will partner with Pat Hughes to call Cubs games on the radio.

And whether the choice is Dave Otto or Keith Moreland, the listener wins. There will finally be a real broadcast, complete with actual awareness, insight and information to replace the grunting, moaning, cheering confusion of Ron Santo’s tired, heart-on-sleeve act.

Amazingly, Hughes is worried about a fan backlash to the obvious improvement. “Please, please, give the new guy a chance,” he told the Sun Times. “They’ll make mistakes – we all do. But give them a chance.”

Mistakes? Seriously?

By the end of the season, the new guy will have made fewer miscues than Santo made in the typical game. Unless it’s seen as a “mistake” when the analyst knows how many outs there are or what inning it is. Mistakes were Santo’s whole bit.

But Hughes is saying what the team and flagship really are thinking, as bewildering as it may be that anyone could object to an immediately-superior product.

They created this problem by enabling the “Pat and Ron Show.” You had Pat (the kind, gentle, homespun play-by-play man with a soothing baritone voice, endless patience, and a non-threatening sense of humor), and Ron (the doddering uncle with who just wants the Cubs to win SOOOO bad). The show seemed to take place from a nursing home, with Pat sitting in a chair next to Ron’s adjustable bed, telling him what was going on in the game, and, I imagined, helping him open his mail and fold his clothes.

The decision-makers seem concerned that just calling the games, now, may not be enough for fans who listened for the overlaid seriocomedy. If they are right, it’s a shame.

A proud organization does not need to pander to those they think would tune out.

Win games, and people listen. The market is cornered. There is no alternative.

Good broadcasters know that the story is the game in front of them. The vivid description of the action, the multiple narrative arcs in the context of the season, and the endless opportunities to learn more about a fascinating sport make baseball on the radio special. To some, it borders on sacred.

You thought Hughes was good before? Just wait – he’s even better than you thought.

Not quite my cup of tea perhaps (a little too folksy for my taste), but he gets to leave that nursing home now and actually sit in the booth, employing his well-honed skills next to someone off of whom he can build substantive baseball conversation.

The evolution of the radio team is happening as we try to answer questions about Tom Ricketts and the new ownership.

Is this a new era of modernity, moving toward big-city MLB business, quantitative analysis, and an appeal to smart fans who just want to win? Or will they continue to sell joy, hope and familiarity; swimming in corny sentimentality in their crumbling, pastoral cathedral of Americana?

For the first time in many years, the radio call has a chance to be a step in the right direction.

(We should look carefully at the length of the new analyst’s deal. Neither guy seems to have the heft of a long-term hire, and Kerry Wood has a deal in place with Ricketts for when he retires. Despite denials, Wood and Ricketts did, indeed, discuss an on-air role of some kind as part of his personal-services contract that sits in Ricketts’s desk. Whether TV, radio, studio or a combination remains to be seen)

The “Pat and Ron Show” is over.

That means Cubs baseball on the radio is no longer for the soft, old and stupid, and that’s a very good thing.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Aw c’mon Bernsie.
    The guy lost in ’69, he lost his hair, he lost his memory, he lost his leg, he lost his mind, he lost election to the Baseball HOF, he lost his life.

    Let it go.

    • Denver Deadite

      Bernsie will never let it go. There is some ego involved here, that Santo was loved by so many when he wasn’t that good at his job (being an analyst). Too damn bad, Bernstein.

      Cubs radio will never be the same. And it certainly won’t be better.

    • Likquid Swordz

      100% Agree!

      Trashing a dead color analysts is just pointless and stupid. Ron is gone Dan, relax

      • Clark W. Griswold

        Thank you.

        Borestein, lets talk more hockey and Cutler shall we?

    • pulseczar

      He’s not really ripping on Santo in this entry though. Just the meatballs who won’t let go and be open minded about accepting a better broadcast team.

      • Bob Loblaw

        WOW! SPOT F-CKING ON!!!!

  • mike in davenport

    Man, if this is today’s topic, I’ll take a pass on the show. We’ll get the usual people who liked Ron calling to fight with Dan as well as the people parroting Dan’s own words right back to him. All for a topic with no possible resolution. This is a worse filler material topic than anything Murph did, and that was unlistenably awful.

    I get that Dan needs to make money for the station and does so by making deliberately inflammatory comments, but this is just going to add up to awful radio.

    I don’t consider myself a meatball fan by any means, but you know what? I have a job where, all day, I read, pick apart, analyze, write, and edit information. I don’t need a level of rhetorical introspect worthy of Aristotle in my baseball broadcasts. It’s sports – it’s not that serious.

    Pat understands, and Ron understood, that sports media isn’t really very important. I wish Dan would get over himself and understand the same thing.

    I love the show when it’s just hitting a few topics, making some silly comments, and having a good time. This kind of nonsense is the radio equivalent of internet trolling.

    • bronzo

      Right on Mike!!!

      he can take his sabre-metrics throw them out the window.

      Yes It’s sports …and supposed to be fun.

    • mike davis

      Hey Mike In Davenport. Bersie gives it to you straight. I can’t wait to hear a real
      BROADCAST. You are exactly what Bernsie describes you to be. A meatball moron who gets a kick out of lost, confused and bad. Santo was a damn good ball player and a HORRIBLE broadcaster. PERIOD!!

      • Clark W. Griswold


      • bigtime sucker

        get a post game mike davis, and quit talking about what your team should do and actually go out practice, lift weights and work on scoring inside you are a classic underachiver who thinks too highly of yourself and actually believes you will be in the NBA. YOu won’t because you suck!!! if you aren’t the power forward for UofI i appologize

    • Harry's Phlegm

      Right on Mike In Davenport! Bernstein takes some stuff way too seriously and his elitist outlook is tiresome. He thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room. I wasn’t a Santo guy but it’s a matter of preference and Bernstein always wants to tell YOU what YOU should like or prefer. It’s like telling somebody what kind of food they must like (and if you disagree then you’re stupid).

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        EXCELLENT point HP.

      • Sophist

        it’s his shtick. it’s a persona. if you get riled up at it, then it’s working. If everyone just didn’t bother with the show because they were sick of it, they would change.

    • Jay's Insulin Pump

      Mike, while I agree with you on the Santo points, I assume today’s show will be like any other. There will be topics you like, topics you don’t like, some meatball callers, and some good ones. The Dan and Terry collaboration that we have all grown to know and love over the years will be there, just like always.

      I tell myself this every single day when Dan announces a topic and proceeds to read, verbatim, the entirety of that day’s blog.

    • Jeff

      I didn’t like Santo as a broadcaster but I still agree with you. Dan getting angry with callers typically doesn’t make for good radio.

      • Dave1138

        That’s of course assuming most callers will be allowed to say their piece without constant interruption.

        I don’t consider myself a ‘meatball fan’ (nor do I consider any fan as such, no matter how stupid their comments make them look), but I never tuned in to the radio broadcast for any insightful analysis from Santo. I just found it entertaining, and that’s what sports are supposed to be…entertaining.

      • pulseczar

        I don’t mind Dan putting stupid callers in their place. Sometimes it does get old when you can almost sense the producers putting certain callers on a tee for DB to take a swing at or when they pick a topic they know will invite the stupidheads. They can’t control who calls though.

        I’ve said before- I like Dan teamed with Laurence or Jason. 99% of the time Terry just echoes whatever Dan says. Do a drinking game or just count how many times Dan will say something and Terry repeats the EXACT same sentence. He needs a co-host that will call him out and disagree with him.

        In many ways, Terry is becoming Santo. Just there groaning and occasionally spouting inanity.

      • Harry's Phlegm

        Pulse that’s a great point I get the feeling sometimes Terry isn’t even that interested in sports anymore. Dan needs a better foil. Personally I love Jason or Matt Speigs because Jason is super-cool and Spiegs is whip-smart, knows his baseball and will stand up to the little bully. Oh and I like LH too.

      • bronzo

        Exactly Jeff ,that’s what I said below all he is doing is trying to pick a fight / argue with callers. He knows very well what kind of response he will get from his callers…and he will do his best to belitttle them.

      • am1000 most of the time

        “Dan getting angry with callers typically doesn’t make for good radio.”

        The show is unlistenable because that’s all they do is fight with callers and ruin it for the listeners. A 5 hour radio show is way too much, that time slot should be broken up into 2 shows. Give someone else a gig.

    • bigtime sucker

      here’s the real issue, this is the only cubs story worth talking about. yesterday he talked sox, today cubs and this is what he finds worth while, NOT A GOOD SIGN FOR CUBS FANS ME THINKS

  • pulseczar

    Cubs fans’ adherence to stupidity like this Santo issue and blinding loyalty to empty “traditions” like the crumbling dump known as Wrigley Field (Weeghman Park to you- caller of the show) are part of why I hate the Cubs so much.

    I realize not all Cubs fans are stupid and some do hold the team to a higher standard. It’s just weird how they became so popular for absolutely no reason in my lifetime (80s to now).

    Note that I left MLB fandom overall almost a decade ago. So take my opinion for whatever little it’s worth. The Sox’ WS piqued my fandom briefly but not enough to bring me back.

    Santo’s broadcasting catered to the lowest common denominator, full stop. It bordered on the insulting at times.

    Side note- wasn’t Santo kinda known as being a Cutleresque figure in his time? Largely unliked, etc. Which makes this odd devotion to him as a (formerly) living mascot perplexing.

    • Spoon

      “Cubs fans’ adherence to stupidity like this Santo issue and blinding loyalty to empty “traditions” like the crumbling dump known as Wrigley Field (Weeghman Park to you- caller of the show) are part of why I hate the Cubs so much.”

      This is true of every sports fandom in sports. We just got out of football season. With the dump that is Soldier Field and and the stupid traditions of Ditka and people eating sausage. Yet people eat that up.

    • Robbie Gould

      What’s your sux Stadium called???

  • bronzo

    This Dan’s attempt to pick a fight with all the ” loyal” Cub fans. As a Sox fan I could care less. who they get to replace him. I actually would occasionally turn the dial to 720 just to listen to Santo for the comedic aspect alone.

    Larry is right leave him alone fo God’s sake.

  • Gentleman RaRa

    I don’t think Bernstein is spitting on Ron Santo’s grave.
    But Ron was not a very good color commentator, and his death shouldn’t discount that fact. The Cubs can do SO much better now,

  • kensumka

    Wow, speaking ill of the dead, classy move, Dan. A man who died of a disease that took away everything but his love of baseball. I liked Ronnie’s passion for the game. He had his faults, which you’re all too happy to point out, but his love of the game and spirit, undaunted by the disease that took everything away from him, including his life, was something to admire. In an era where million-dollar babies whine about everything, Ron was old-school, a guy who never complained about significant loss, like his legs.

  • Likquid Swordz

    Everyone KNOWS Ron Santo was a horrible Cubs homer on the radio broadcasts.

    Yes he attracted legions of Cubs meatballs in the last 15 years. It is general knowledge that whoever is Santo’s replacement is going to be better, but beating a dead horse (excuse the pun) because the meatballs can’t let go is bad radio.

    Meatballs are like roaches, they survive the test of time, unfortunately

  • goldenttbagger

    The radio broadcast will now have two legs to stand on

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I thought that today’s topic would have been KANER!!!
    …or at least D.Rose and DaBoo.

    I’m disappointed.

  • Tweets that mention Bernstein: Cubs Broadcast Will Be Better Without Santo « CBS Chicago --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rudy Lomberger, Matthew Huck, Scott Vandermoon, baseballbigt24, Jay Zawaski and others. Jay Zawaski said: RT @670TheScore: Bernstein: Cubs Broadcast Will Be Better Without Santo […]

  • pulseczar

    The blog is eating my comments for some unknown reason so I’ll try again.

    Deceased or not, it doesn’t exempt him from the truth. He was bad at his job. He wasn’t always lovable “Ronnie.” Many/most of his health issues were his own fault. DB’s opinions on Santo- while at times scathing and almost always downright mean, are usually spot-on.

    • pulseczar

      I had a longer comment but I’m done trying to piece it together to figure out what the blog monster doesn’t like. Lame.

      • dabears

        It’s probably Bernstein hitting the “Report Comment” link!

  • chana

    Mr. Bernstein – who died and made you King? What are you doing? You punching down a guy who died – Mr. Santo was a class act and did more for the Cubs organization than you ever had. He also had a pasion for fighting the disease that killed him, whether it was his fault or not (pluseczar). I think that you should keep you mouth shut and keep your comments to yourself. Let’s put you in the pressbox and see how far you can go without making an ass out of yourslef.

    • Jay's Insulin Pump

      I have MANY problems with this comment. Let’s take them one at a time.

      “Mr. Santo”? Please, just because he’s passed doesn’t mean we now need to pretend that there is some “higher power” level of respect needed. His name is Ron, and was fine with being addressed as such. In fact, if you called him Mr. Santo to his face, he would probably insist otherwise.

      “I think that you should keep you mouth shut and keep your comments to yourself.” You’re reading a blog, his blog. Which is comprised of the opinions of one Dan Bernstein. If this isn’t what you’re looking for, you’re in the wrong place.

      “Let’s put you in the pressbox” I don’t know if that’s what you want. As is so eloquently written on his bio page, Dan “is the city’s only three-category winner of the Achievement in Radio Award” which includes the category “best play-by-play”. Plus, you hate Dan. Why would you want him doing YOUR Cub games?

      So, come on guys. Put the gun down. Time to chill out.

  • Schmagurty

    Geez Bernstein,

    Are you also planning today to stop by the cemetery and spit on Santo’s grave while you’re at it?

    Pretty tasteless column.

  • Jay's Insulin Pump

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with the topic. I mean after all, it’s topical. Everyone who says Dan is picking a fight, or piling on, or “beating a dead horse” (classy, guys), just can’t look past the Santo comments and see that the article is about the rejuvenation of Cubs broadcasts. This marks a point in history, just as was marked on the day Santo sat down in front of the mic for the first time. Appreciate it for what it is, no matter who is sitting next to Pat.

    What I do have a problem with is, “Mistakes were Santo’s whole bit.” Santo didn’t need a bit, anyone who listened to him knows that. Dan let his personal feelings take over a little, something he should know not to do by now.

    I’m not trying to stick up for Dan, just trying to show the bigger picture.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      JIP, I think the classy and appropriate way to make those points would be to wait until WGN/Cubs announce who the new color-guy will be, and then Dan could focus on what that specific guy brings to the broadcast. Dan’s piece is that anyone but Santo is an improvement. Really? Joe Carter???

      • Dave1138

        I don’t know how many have watched pro wrestling at some point in their lives, but I recall one person saying “Controversy creates cash”. A truly accurate qoute if there ever was one!

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Excellent Dave…pithy and true.

        Bernsie has already generated more responses to today’s blog topic than the last two days (Hawks and Peavy) combined.

        ca-ching for CBS.

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        I get what you’re saying. And yeah it may seem that way, but “anyone” is not who is interviewing for this job. He knows that. Of the very few, I believe that it will be a step in the right direction. Dan knows the guys who are going for this job and how qualified they are, the Santo jabs just put an ugly mask on the whole thing.

        You might be right about waiting to see who it is, but this article did exactly what it was intended to do – stir up discussion. Why are we pretending that this isn’t what we should expect from Bernstein?

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        100% right JIP…Bernsie wants website hits and you might not achieve that by going the most classy way.

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        You make some very good points too, Larry. I probably cr@pped myself earlier by sarcastically calling certain people “classy” while overlooking Dan’s similar shortcomings. The fact is, not one person took the high road. Readers and writers included.

  • Clark W. Griswold

    Jay’s Insulin Pump – you should look into getting some Dan Bernstein branded knee pads

    • Jay's Insulin Pump

      Congrats on being the 1 millionth person to come up with that joke.

      You’re the Brown’s Chicken Ass Hole of the Day!

      • Clark W. Griswold

        …And about as original as your blog name. It’s a shame your lock jaw doesn’t re-direct itself to your fingers – we’d all be thankful

      • StupidPeopleFTW

        Pot meet Kettle

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        I don’t want to get into a whole thing with you here, but you’re making fun of my name? YOUR NAME IS CLARK W. GRISWOLD! You literally stole that from a movie.

        All I was trying to do is point out that you’re being an ass hole. This can’t be the first time you’re hearing it. Seriously, this is a comment on a sports blog. Chill out.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Now if you two can’t get along in the back seat and play nice, so help me I am going to turn this van around and we will NOT be going to Chucky Cheese.

  • Judy

    Dan you are a mean, ugly person. Ron Santo was loved by millions – doubt if anyone will even know you are gone when your time comes.

  • Greg Broughman

    I think the perfect replacement for the Santo fans would be Ronnie Woo. Cub’s Fantasy Camp woo! Old Style woo-woo!

    • Chicken and Beer

      Even better, if you want a Cubs meatball to ramble on in a fog, there’s a long-time Chicago media icon that is currently at liberty…

      Mike Murphy!!!!!

      • Dave1138

        I too miss Mike Murphy’s show bloop

      • bloop

        i miss murph’s show. bloop!

      • Timmymac

        I miss Murph, too

      • AL

        Mike Murphy had an interesting show. Rare for WSCR.

  • G-Mo82

    i’m sure there will be plenty of Bulls talk.

    my brother told me about the ” down time” of sports radio and we are in it. spring training is coming but after a day or two of that we will want the real thing to start.

    bulls are a topic….football is over….and hockey, well, not too much hockey talk ( GO HAWKS )

    everyone reads bernsie’s with a crooked eye, either side of the spectrum.

    so he pointed out santo’s mistakes, ending up with the point of a better broadcast.

    i guess i don’t care either way.
    cubs suck

    • Sophist

      yeah — tha’ts why they jumped the gun so quickly on the “2011” Baseball prospectus standings. I’m surprised they didn’t turn that into 3 hours of the show.

  • boogity boogity

    Jay Insulation Pump is one of the parrots……..isn’t he smart though?

    Dan has taken the postiion that he can’t imageine a Sox broadcast without Hawk Harrelson. He has grown up with the dead air, complaining about the umps and Hawk’s mistakes….and he likes the broadcast. That info right there makes his whole blog today hypocritical….and that is not even including the fact a Ron Santo doppelganger sits next to him every day

    • Peter (in Rogers Park)

      Burn City

    • Peter (in Rogers Park)

      Parrots are actually pretty smart (I watched Nova last night!!!). Intelligence and sycophantism are not mutually exclusive traits, however.

  • Spoon

    It’s funny that Dan can be so smart, yet play so dumb.

    • bronzo

      Spoon…you are correct sir….

      And look at the response he got…

    • Spoon

      Yup, it’s all he was after, and we all play good little blog soldiers and respond.

      I HATE baseball season in Chicago. It turns this whole city in the biggest group of immature back biting 12 yr olds. It’s the most miserable sports season. If both teams were blown up tomorrow, I wouldnt lose a wink of sleep, and I love baseball.

    • AnneS

      My concerns for the Cubs hardly start with the broadcast booth.

      • Dave1138

        Agreed. I’m more concerned with the team playing on the field more than the people broadcasting them.

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        Exactly. I’m in the middle of planning a somewhat impromptu trip down to Arizona for spring training and while I’m excited to enjoy some warm weather I’m so down on the Cubs it probably wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t catch a game.

  • David Brown

    Long after Mr. Bernstein is gone, the memory of Ron Santo will still be fresh.
    And he can’t be gone too soon

    • Larry Horse's neck collar

      Stay classy, Dave.

      Some of the comments defending Santo are funny. Just because he’s dead and you liked him didn’t make him any good.

      • Spoon

        Actually, if Dave liked him, it does in fact mean he was good to Dave. Good is an incredibly subjective word when describing someone who’s goal is to entertain you for 3 hours. Joe Buck is good, and if I had to listen to him for 3 hours every day, I’d stab myself in the face with a dull and rusty spoon.

        While I agree that Santo wasn’t a tome of knowledge, well spoken, fair and balanced or anything else. I enjoyed every minute of his broadcast.


    In my own opinion, the Cubs and their flagship radio station should be looking towards Secaucus, NJ and MLB Network to find a successor for the late Ron Santo in the team’s radio booth. If the Cubs & WGN Radio really want a capable successor to Santo, the guy who they should be looking at is Dan Plesac. He was really good when he analyzed Cub games on Comcast SportsNet and would be a better fit than Dave Otto & Keith Moreland, the believed finalists for the analyst job alongside Pat Hughes. Plesac would give the Cub radio booth a degree of energy it has sorely lacked.

    Meanwhile, what a big win for the Bulls last night in Salt Lake City vs. a pretty good Jazz team at what they now call Energy Solutions Arena. It wasn’t just Derrick Rose’s 29 point effort in the Bulls’ 91-86 win that was huge, but he & Ronnie Brewer made a pair of defensive stands that sealed the deal at the end and gave the Bulls a chance to come home with a winning road trip if they beat Chris Paul and the Hornets in New Orleans Saturday night.

  • Peter (in Rogers Park)

    I think Milt Rosenberg should become the Cubs new color man and WGN should then hire Dan Bernstein to host Extension 720. The Cubs broadcast would stay bizarre, Dan would get to try out his most recently acquired big word on an audience that might understand it, and some of the less flawed, less self-important types could take over at the score. Everybody wins.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      LOL! Genius suggestion.

  • Peter (in Rogers Park)

    Maybe after he’s finally finished with Santo, Favre, and Cutler’s personality Dan will write a piece that scathingly takes to task an actual dead horse.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Secretariat ain’t lookin’ like any ESPN top-50 athlete these days…….

      I’m just sayin’.

      • Peter (in Rogers Park)

        And he has a statue. And I’m SO over statues.

    • coffee break

      Hopefully he will not bash America’s hero race horse, Barbaro. My personal hero horse.

  • RR

    “That means Cubs baseball on the radio is no longer for the soft, old and stupid, and that’s a very good thing.” Blow me Bernstein. I’m young, educated and enjoyed the Pat and Ron show. Otto and Moreland filled in several times for Ronnie over the years. I would take Ron over either one. I spend a lot of time driving for work during the summers. Since I don’t live in Chicago, I have XM to catch all the games. Unfortunately, when the Cubs are away the home team has the radio broadcast. I’ve heard every other broadcasting duo in the NL and I’d take Pat and Ron over any of them. Do you even listen to Cubs baseball on the radio Bernstein? I’d rather some goofing around and keeping it interesting since it can be rather boring. You’re a dbag and your show would be better without you

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