So Long From Wrigley Field

We’ll miss you, Stoney:

CHICAGO — Longtime Chicago Cubs analyst Steve Stone announced Thursday he was leaving WGN-TV, less than one month after coming under fire for on-air comments he made criticizing the team.

“I regret I won’t be calling another Cubs game on WGN-TV for the greatest fans in baseball, the fans of the Chicago Cubs,” Stone, a Cubs broadcaster for 20 years, said on WGN-AM radio.

Stone did not say why he was leaving the booth. Telephone messages left for him and a Cubs spokeswoman were not immediately returned Thursday night.

I remember when Steve Stone began his career as a broadcaster. He was rough, nervous, and his nasal voice grated on my nerves.

As time went by and he grew more comfortable with his role, which was made easier, no doubt, by Harry Caray’s easy-going style, Steve became one of the most informative announcers in baseball. This year, in particular, I noticed that Stoney would consistently predict a manager’s moves two or three batters ahead. Steve Stone was the thinking man’s baseball analyst.

His comments about the Cubs’ collapse at the end of the season were right on the money. With the talent at Dusty Baker’s command, this team should have clinched the wild-card playoff spot by six games instead of finishing behind the Astros and the Giants. When players started whining about Stoney’s remarks, Baker should have called a meeting and told them to shut up and win some ball games. Instead, Dusty called for a meeting with Stoney and the team’s management.

If I were Steve Stone, I probably would have quit, too. It’s clear the Cubs’ upper management wants a cheerleader in the booth instead of a real analyst. And that kind of delusional thinking is why the Cubs haven’t been World Series champions since World War I.

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