Since 1997, the television voices of the Houston Astros, Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies, have been about as good as you can possibly get in baseball, or any sport, for that matter. Brown's dry delivery made the perfect set-up man for Deshaies's wit and insight. They pair was a match made in broadcast heaven. But, like all things with the Astros over the last couple of years, the only constant is change on the field and in the broadcast booth.
Longtime radio play-by-play announcer Milo Hamilton has retired and neither of the radio team of Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond were invited to return by Astros owner Jim Crane. Now, Deshaies is leaving for a job with the former division rival Chicago Cubs. Brown is under contract until February, but no word yet on if he will stay in Houston.
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Deshaies pitched for the Astros from 1985 until 1991 and was as much a fan favorite then as he was in the booth. Now he'll have the chance to entertain fans at Wrigley Field.
According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, the decision was not based on Astros management and the team reportedly made him what is believed to be a competitive offer. But Deshaies opted for Chicago at least in part because he has a daughter attending the University of Illinois, but most likely because the Cubs offered more money.
"This isn't a disgruntled guy leaving because of all the changes," he said. "This is an opportunity that came along. The Astros made me an offer that I would consider fair in this market, but it's a different market. They made a strong commitment in terms of years."
The Astros will immediately begin the search for a replacement, but a deal with Brown has to now be a priority. He is considered one of the best in the business and with everyone else gone, a little continuity couldn't hurt. But finding an on-air partner to match the chemistry he had with Deshaies will certainly be a challenge.