Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes missed Wednesday’s series finale against the Cincinnati Reds with an illness. That meant Judd Sirott, who usually fills in for Hughes during the fifth inning of games, would take over for the entire broadcast. It also meant that Keith Moreland, Hughes’ partner in the booth, would finally go an entire game without hearing mention of his predecessor, the late Ron Santo.

“It’s been tough,” said Moreland. “I get that [Santo] was beloved by so many, but the guy is dead. I’m trying to do a job, trying to paint a vivid picture of the ballgame for the audience, unlike Ronnie who usually finger-painted his way through a game. Does that merit over a dozen recollections about him every game?”

The Cubs’ poor play this season has not helped Moreland’s plight.

“Pat has a tough job of filling space and keeping the listeners interested when the Cubs are losing, which has been often. It just sucks that he has to keep going to the ‘I remember when Ron Santo … ‘-well so often.”

Moreland seemed far more relaxed during Wednesday’s broadcast than he had in previous games.

“He was less tense than usual,” said Sirott. “I also noticed his smiles seemed genuine during the game, unlike the ones he gives to Pat when Pat’s talking about how Ronnie’s hairpiece ended the Cold War or something. After he threatened to choke me during the pregame show if I mentioned Ron, he was happier than I’d seen him all season.”

Moreland said that he is not looking forward to Ron Santo Commemorative Diaper Giveaway Day that coincides with Moreland singing the Seventh Inning Stretch on July 18.

Tim Baffoe