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Cubs’ last hurrah on WGN-TV could be a tearjerker

What’s predicted to be the past Cubs game on WGN-Television is scheduled for Sept. 27, a Friday night time game in St. Louis commencing the closing collection of the 2019 period.

A different tradition arrives to an conclude, and a new era will commence.

But in contrast to HBO and “Game of Thrones,” WGN and the Cubs are not hyping their closing period with each other immediately after 72 many years. In point the news launch asserting the Cubs’ 2019 Television plan didn’t even mention it would be past just one on what some Chicagoans nevertheless refer to as “Channel 9,” even if they’re actually looking at Channel 192 on their regional cable outlet.

It makes feeling to downplay the news. Facts of the Cubs community have nevertheless to be introduced, so it likely is not kosher for WGN to start off reminiscing about the conclude of their decadeslong connection just nevertheless.

Fortunately WGN has 45 games on the plan, including the period opener March 28 in Texas, so there is a good deal of time to present the outdated clips we know so nicely.

Face it: We’ve been hearing about the proposed Cubs Channel for so very long it has lessened the effect of the swan track. But it is nevertheless unhappy to see the Cubs leaving WGN, a spouse as a result of thick and (largely) skinny. It’s just an additional indicator that nothing lasts permanently. Remember that the Cubs and WGN Radio split immediately after the 2014 period, ending a connection that dated to 1925.

If you’re a little one boomer Cubs fan, their games could be the only detail still left on regional Television that was on when you begun looking at. Fifty many years ago, Bozo, Ray Rayner and Jack Brickhouse had been the voices you listened to a lot more than your instructor.

In my to start with calendar year as Cubs beat writer in 1997, WGN televised 144 games. That ’97 group begun -14 and wound up getting rid of 94 games, but at minimum you could enjoy them on absolutely free Television — or on the superstation if you experienced moved from Chicago.

The following January, the Cubs owners — Tribune Co. — made the decision to decrease the WGN plan to 92 games, placing 62 games on CLTV, the company’s regional cable news channel.

The shift was done to accommodate primary-time WB Network displays, such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which introduced in a lot more earnings.

“I’m a lot more eye-catching than Buffy,” Cubs announcer Harry Caray reported, right before lamenting “no just one will listen to me anymore” on the cable channel.

Several supporters had been outraged. One letter printed in the Tribune sports activities part stated: “Only the amazingly stupid Cubs/Tribune/WGN administration could make such a colossal miscalculation.”

Caray never manufactured the changeover. He died 3 months later on, and grandson Chip Caray took the mic through the ’98 period, just one of the craziest in Cubs background. Sammy Sosa’s duel with Mark McGwire for the single-period property-operate record and rookie Kerry Wood’s strikeout fests manufactured the Cubs should-see Television.

With the Cubs in rivalry in late July and a lot more than just one-3rd of the remaining games scheduled to air on CLTV, Tribune Co. bowed to force and introduced it would shift selected Cubs games back again to WGN “depending on the pennant race.”

Admirers progressively grew accustomed to looking at a lot more games on cable, and in 2003 the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks started their very own sports activities channel, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which is now NBC Athletics Chicago. As former Bulls govt Steve Schanwald spelled out at the time, the shift was manufactured to “cut out the intermediary,” or mainly give a lot more earnings for the groups.

Admirers naturally will tune in where ever the listings say the game is airing, assuming they can locate which channel that is on any supplied day. The Cubs experienced the fifth-best rankings among the regional sports activities networks past calendar year, in accordance to Nielsen details furnished to Forbes, trailing the Cardinals, Red Sox, Indians and Brewers. The White Sox completed past among the the 29 groups. (The Blue Jays are not section of the Nielsen rankings for the reason that they’re situated in Canada.)

And there actually is very little change in between a game telecast on WGN, ABC-7 or NBC Athletics Chicago. The broadcasters, Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies, give the similar descriptions. The seventh-inning extend stays a staple of all 3 telecasts. And the veteran producer of Cubs telecasts, Marc Brady, employs the ballpark and neighborhood as section of the visible presentation, whether it is a fan chugging a beer immediately after catching a foul ball in his or her cup or a glimpse of a sailboat on Lake Michigan. Arne Harris, the late WGN director of Cubs telecasts, begun that tradition in the 1980s and credited Caray for generating “Chicago scenes” section of the broadcast.

“The Cubs get rid of a doubleheader, but look at all the folks strolling out of park,” Harris once reported. “They are not unhappy. Baseball was important, but looking at Harry sing and obtaining a excellent time is what was actually important.”

Probably the Cubs nevertheless would’ve been the Cubs with out WGN. The many years of getting rid of divided them from other franchises, and honestly, they actually weren’t all that lovable some seasons.

But WGN assisted broaden their charm, specifically in 1984, and manufactured them into a nationwide group. Here’s hoping their closing period ends with a cliffhanger.

psullivan@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @PWSullivan

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