Marquee

This weekend’s Cubs Convention served as a de facto launching event for the franchise’s Marquee Sports Network. It did not start well when team chairman Tom Ricketts was booed by fans just for mentioning the paid cable network that is yet to be available on many cable providers. However, while the release on specifics on Saturday, including the on-air talent roster and network programming, cooler heads may yet prevail.

First, the network officially confirmed that play-by-play announcer Len Kasper and color analyst Jim Deshaies will continue in those roles. Kasper has been the Cubs’ play-by-play voice since 2005 while “JD” has been there since 2013.

They’ll be joined on broadcasts by studio host Cole Wright & field reporter Taylor McGregor. Wright was most recently seen as part of NFL Network’s GameDay Highlights package while McGregor was previously the field reporter for the Colorado Rockies and also works on ESPN’s college football coverage.

The network also announced that a phalanx of former Cubs players and media personalities will join Kasper and JD in the booth during the season, including Ryan Dempster, Mark DeRosa, Lou Piniella, Dan Plesac, Doug Glanville, Jason Hammel, Carlos Peña, Rick Sutcliffe, and Chris Myers. Most of them will appear as analysts though some will fill in as studio hosts as well. It’s noted that Chris Myers’ role includes play-by-play, so he may pick up spot duty from time to time.

(it’s also important to note that many of these part-time analysts will remain with their primary networks, which include ESPN, Fox, and MLB Network)

One fan in the audience asked why there was only one female member of the Marquee team and received an assurance from Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney that this would change in the future. It was also noted that Kelly Crull, who covered the team for NBC Sports Chicago and was a fan favorite, was not on the list.

Along with on-air talent, there were also announcements about network programming. Since Marquee is a 24-hour network, they’ve got a lot of space to fill in-between Cubs games, and now we know a little more about how that space will be filled. Plans include the obvious (pre- and post-game coverage, inside access, “Cub-umentaries”) as well as unique features such as classic Cubs broadcasts, minor league broadcasts, and even college sports and professional soccer broadcasts.

Finally, Kenney provided a brief update of who is carrying Marquee as of right now. The white whale remains Comcast, which serves an estimated 1.5-million homes in Chicagoland, and has yet to agree to a deal with the network. He did note that the network has 22 providers as of right now, including RCN, which serves many Chicago households. Kenney also said that fans should expect “all” streaming services to have Marquee in time for the season to begin.

Saturday was a step in the right direction for Marquee after a disastrous start on Friday night. However, if they can’t come to terms with Comcast before April, all the goodwill in the world won’t save the Cubs and their new network from a whole lot of bad vibes.

[Marquee]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Curbed, Neighborhoods.com, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.