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What I Watched Last Night

Tuned into the Cubs game last night in the bottom of the 7th inning to find that REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin was in the booth with Len & Bob. Whoa! Are you telling me I missed Kevin Cronin singing the national anthem?

Or, as Cronin would do it, sing-ging the na-shun-a-ela an-a-them-a . . .

You have to understand that it's the considered opinion of a few of us that REO's "You Get What You Play For" is the greatest live album of all time, no matter what sins the band went on to commit.

Of course, while the whole band is on fire on "Get What You Play For" and Cronin's vocal phrasing is out-of-hand wild madness, what really makes that album move is the scorching guitar playing of the now-estranged Gary Richrath. So much so that a couple of us Beachwood regulars began a "What Would Richrath Do?" movement a few years ago. Almost always, the answer is "Rock!"

So while Len Kasper threw "questions" to Cronin in the WGN booth last night like, "A lot of your song titles could apply to the Cubs - 'Roll With the Changes,' 'Riding' the Storm Out' . . . " (to which Cronin admirably replied, "When you've written so many songs, you can find enough to apply to anything . . . "), I got Tim Willette on the phone and we came up with the questions we would ask Cronin if we were Len & Bob.

1. So, talk to Richrath lately?
2. He really rocked.
3. What's Richrath up to?
4. Do you think Richrath would put on the bunt here?
5. So, remember when you played with Richrath?
6. If it was Richrath versus the Pirates, who would win?
7. Even mini-Richrath?
8. Does Richrath know you're here?
9. When you threw out the first pitch, were you thinking of Richrath?
10. Are you going over to Richrath's after this?

*

Kasper: You got to roll with the changes.
Cronin: Sure. You got-ta.

*

Cronin: Love to see that aggressive baserunning by the Cubs! Man, that's exciting! That's good baseball.

Shortly after a Cubs player was picked off first base.

*

The Trib's Teddy Greenstein assessed Len & Bob on Tuesday.

"They're a pleasant listen. But they could be better," Greenstein wrote (second item). "Brenly strikes me as overly reluctant to offer opinions, and Kasper doesn't do enough to draw them out."

That's about right, I think. Kasper, in fact, is probably the smoothest play-by-play guy the team has had - infinitely better than the cloying Chip Caray. But, as Greenstein notes, Brenly's problem is that he holds back. We know he knows more than he's telling us, but his instincts are to protect the players and manager.

That's why it was so refreshing at the end of Dusty Baker's reign to see Brenly start to unload.

Brenly interviewed for the Cubs managing job and clearly had a different philosophy than Jim Hendry; Brenly wanted to rebuild the organization from the ground-up and grow from within, rather than buying a bunch of journeymen every year hoping to get lucky with patchwork lineups.

That's the Brenly it would be nice to hear from in the booth. Again, as Greenstein points out, Steve Stone's candor is what made him such a success. He is missed. But Brenly can get there if he really wants to. If he's just waiting for his next manager's job, though, we're out of luck.

*

TV Note: Fans of our regular TV writer Scott Buckner should know he's still with us, just not watching the tube every frickin' night like he was for awhile there. Look forward to more of his crack TV criticism. And if you'd like to contribute to What I Watched Last Night or elsewhere on our TV page, drop us a line.

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See what else we've been watching in the What I Watched Last Night collection.



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Posted on May 9, 2007


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