In recent months we've had a pretty close eye on the Arizona Diamondbacks television booth due to the unusual circumstances surrounding broadcasters Daron Sutton and Mark Grace.
To recap quickly, at different points during the 2012 season both men disappeared from FSN Arizona broadcasts to deal with personal and professional issues. Sutton's absence was more mysterious at first because the team was vague when discussing his "indefinite suspension," but we later learned there were philosophical differences with the organization that went beyond his personal matter. Grace's situation was more cut and dry as he took an extended leave of absence in August after his second DUI arrest in 15 months.
Ultimately, the differences with Sutton were deemed irreparable, and with Grace's contract also running out, the team decided to overhaul their booth completely on Oct. 4. That announcement came as a surprise to few. In fact, at the time of Grace and Sutton's dismissal speculation about who would replace the duo was already well underway.
It appears the Diamondbacks' search was, too, because the team has already announced their replacements. And it turns out they landed two pretty big names to fill the roles.
Former manager Bob Brenly — who led the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship in 2001 — will handle the color commentating duties after leaving the same position with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. Of course, that's where Brenly formed a very entertaining and popular eight-year partnership with Len Kasper that many baseball fans are disappointed to see end. Brenly also spent three years in the booth with Arizona before going down to the dugout in 2001 and has called national broadcasts for Fox and TBS, so he's obviously polished and sound at his job.
His new play-by-play partner will be ESPN personality Steve Berthiaume, who hosted shows such as "Baseball Tonight" and also provided play-by-play during ESPN's extended College World Series coverage. Berthiaume's hiring had been rumored, but wasn't the near certainty that Brenly's was. It'll be interesting to see how he transitions from the studio to the full-time television voice in Arizona.
"We are ecstatic to be bringing in such a dynamic broadcast duo like Bob and Steve," team president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "Not only are we able to reach back to our roots with someone who has played such a significant role in our franchise's history, but we truly feel that Bob is the best analyst in the game today. With Steve, we believe that his ability to connect with our fans and his tremendous work on the national stage over the last several years makes him the perfect addition to the booth."
Difficult to argue with any of Derrick Hall's logic there. If Berthiaume's transition goes smoothly, Arizona should be set up with a good pairing for years to come.
While the new hires bring a tumultuous and at times bizarre situation in Arizona to a conclusion, they also leave openings at ESPN and in the Cubs broadcast booth. We've already heard names such current postgame analyst Todd Hollandsworth and MLB Network's Dan Plesac — who handled postgame duties with the Cubs in the past — linked to the latter job. It appears Mark Grace, who at one time would have been a logical candidate, will not be considered and recently retired Cub Kerry Wood is not interested.
Whoever the hire is will walk into a good situation with Len Kasper already comfortable and excelling in his role. But hopefully the selection can carry a tune a little bit, too, because whoever it is will definitely be asked to perform the seventh-inning stretch gimmick at Wrigley Field several times a year.