I sometimes think I don't give Len Kasper enough credit for being good at his job simply because he just can't reach the heights of Hughes in describing a baseball game. It's kind of like how it took people a long time to realize that Scottie Pippen was pretty damn good too when compared so closely to one of the best ever.
Listening to Hughes on the radio is a fantastic experience. He sets the proper tone without all the false-excitement that is so prevalent in the younger generation of play-by-play clones that are out there, but without falling off into tedium when things aren't going well (which is far too often). When things are exciting, he manages to keep an even keel to describe the situation and rises to a crescendo as the play unfolds.
Check out this audio from 2001 from a game against the Rockies (h/t GBTS at ACB). This was the game where Joe Girardi should have had a fairly simple (and exciting) game-winning single, but Ricky Gutierrez fell down coming around 3rd and then all hell REALLY broke loose:
I was at this game, and I was going nuts. How Hughes coherently translated the pandemonium on the field into words on the radio with Santo screaming in his ear beside him is sheer brilliance.
Today, WGN Radio announced that Pat Hughes will remain the voice of the Cubs through 2015 and at least 20 years on the job. Again, like the Wood signing, this doesn't do anything that will ultimately change the outcome of the 2011 season or any of the ones following, but it makes them all a little easier to endure.
I would have been happier if it had been through 2025, but it's a start.
Pat in one of his trademark sweaters, getting ready
to describe the uniforms of the players on the field