Joe Girardi comes full circle as Cubs analyst on Marquee Sports Network

The Cubs have always been a part of Joe Girardi’s life.

Growing up in Peoria, he watched and listened to Cubs games with his dad. The Cubs drafted him in the fifth round in 1986, and he made his major league debut with them on Opening Day 1989. After playing for the Rockies and Yankees, he returned to the Cubs in 2000 and made the All-Star team.

And when he finished playing and entered the broadcast in 2003, the first game he called was a Cubs-Braves playoff game on ESPN Radio with former Bulls broadcaster Jim Durham.

“I was really nervous,” Girardi said this week. “I asked the producers what to do, and they told me to be yourself. And I said, I’ve never done this before, so I don’t know what I am.

Girardi got it, battling a migraine to put on a great performance. This led to opportunities with the Yankees’ YES Network, Fox and MLB Network, interspersed with 14 years as a manager.

And continuing the pattern of his life, Girardi will return to the Cubs on Friday, when he joins Jon Sciambi and Jim Deshaies on Marquee Sports Network for the three-game series with the Brewers.

“[Cubs president] Crane Kenney called me and asked if I’d be interested in playing a few matches,” Girardi said. “I said absolutely. I like to manage, but I also like to broadcast. It’s like closing the loop. There are so many fond memories of Cub games, whether I was a little boy or a player. I wrote an essay in third grade saying my dream was to play for the Cubs.

Girardi was available because the Phillies fired him after going 22-29 in his third year as manager. They have since gone 43-23 under interim manager Rob Thomson and are in the thick of the playoff race. So the move clearly worked for them.

And it didn’t go so badly for Girardi, who spoke while driving with his daughter, Lena, on their way to a workout together. Such family time is hard to come by for working managers, and Girardi is passionate about his other career.

“You can enjoy the game that you love so much, and you don’t have to worry about wins and losses,” said Girardi, who will also call the Cubs’ Sept. 19-21 series in Miami, where he and his family lives. “You’re basically having a conversation with someone else who loves the game as much as you do.”

Girardi brings elements of his managerial career into the stand. He prepares broadcasts as if he were about to manage a match. He still watches games every day using MLB.TV – “This app is getting really big because you can fast forward 30 seconds,” he said – and he’ll be watching a few weeks of games to get to know the teams he calls. But he realizes he can’t talk about everything.

“I’m just saying [the story] through my eyes,” Girardi said. “Because I can’t tell through a pitcher’s eyes because I didn’t see the game that way. I saw him as a receiver, I saw him as a manager, I saw him as a bit of an offensive player who had to do the little things. I don’t know what it’s like to be a power hitter, but I know I love having these guys on my team.

Girardi hasn’t worked with Sciambi or Deshaies, but he’s looking forward to interacting in the threesome booth.

“I think a three-way stand can be a lot of fun,” Girardi said, “because now you have a great announcer in ‘Boog’ and you have a pitcher and a receiver talking about strategy and how you see things. I think it can be interesting.”

Girardi doesn’t know what awaits him after the season. Managerial positions are sure to open up, and despite his end with the Phillies, teams are interested in him. He spent 10 years with the Yankees, winning the World Series in 2009 and making the playoffs six times.

“I’m going to take it a year at a time,” he said. “I know I love broadcasting, and I always said it would be something I would come back to finish my career. I don’t know if I’m done managing. But to end my career, [broadcasting is] which I would like to do because you can do it for a long time and I love it.

Remote Patrol

  • MLB has announced its broadcast plans for the playoffs. ESPN will offer the Wildcard Series, TBS has the American League Divisional and Championship Series, and Fox and FS1 have those series for the National League. Fox will broadcast the World Series for the 25e time.
  • Jason Benetti will be joined by Steve Stone and Guardians analyst Rick Manning for the White Sox-Guardians game at 11:05 a.m. Sunday on Peacock.
  • Peacock will once again exclusively broadcast a Notre Dame football game this season. It will be against UNLV at 1:30 p.m. on October 22.

Lance B. Holton