PHOENIX — Eleven years ago Sunday, Bob Brenly hugged Bob Melvin, jumped out of the third-base dugout and lived the grandest party in Bank One Ballpark history after managing the Diamondbacks to their World Series title in 2001, the franchise high point.
Lest anyone wonder, Brenly is supremely content today with new his position as the team’s TV analyst.
Brenly was said to be among the short list of contenders for several managerial jobs in recent years, including those with the Brewers and Cubs, but he said Monday that those days are behind him.
“I’m a broadcaster. I’m here to broadcast games and hopefully do such a good job that they want to keep me in that booth for a long time,” said Brenly, who was formally introduced in a press conference broadcast live on FOX Sports Arizona.
Brenly, who became the fourth manager in major league history to win a World Series in his first season, signed a five-year contract to join former ESPN “Baseball Tonight” host Steve Berthiaume on the D-backs’ new broadcast team. Berthiaume, making his play-by-play debut, has a three-year contract with two options.
“It’s a lot of water under the bridge,” Brenly said. “Every year there are more retired players and more coaches in line for managers’ jobs. More minor league managers looking for managers’ jobs. I think I have found a niche that I am comfortable at. I feel I do it OK, and I’d like to continue to do it for a long time. It will be fun. There are plenty of other guys out there who are queued up for those jobs.
D-backs managing partner Ken Kendrick said of Brenly: “We feel he is the best in the game,”
Known for his competitiveness as a player, Brenly sees a kindred spirit in D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, who took the team to the NL West title in his first full season in 2011. The two were NL West rivals in 1988, when Brenly spent his final season with the Giants in the same year that Gibson joined the Dodgers as a free agent.
“I’m a big Kirk Gibson fan and always have been. I loved the way he played the game. We have a lot of mutual friends, and I’ve known him for a long time. I think he is doing a hell of a job here. I expect him to continue to do that. I’m going to be his biggest supporter,” Brenly said.
Brenly’s wife, Joan, and son, Michael, attended the Monday press conference, and Brenly said the prospect of returning to a spot the family considers home was too great to resist, even if it means tackling some home repairs that always seemed to get put off while he split the last eight years between Scottsdale and Chicago. Brenly was the Cubs’ TV analyst for eight years after being fired by the D-backs in 2004, and he also worked numerous postseason games for the national networks.
“This has always felt like home. We raised the kids here. They went to school here,” said Brenly, who has lived in the same Scottsdale home for 15 years.
“We were here when it all got started in 1997, and it wasn’t real pretty initially. We were also here when it got really fun. Just the total body of experiences that I had here in Arizona as a member of this organization was a tremendously strong lure.
“Above and beyond that … I’ve drug (Joan) around in and out of cities in the minor leagues and in the big leagues with very little concern as for what she wanted to do. At this stage in our lives, I think we are in union as to where we want to be. Everything said, this was the place to be.”
Said Joan Brenly: “The stars aligned.”
Brenly, 58, has drawn praise in the industry for his honest and even-handed evaluations of Cubs players and managerial decisions, often done with a dose of humor and always with an unimpeachable grasp of the game and its strategy.
After spending nine years as a major league player, Brenly was a coach with the Giants under Roger Craig and Dusty Baker in San Francisco before joining the D-backs in 2001. Brenly won the prestigious Willie Mac award in San Francisco in 1984, an honor given annually to the Giants player who best represents the spirit and leadership of the team.
He said his broadcasting style “depends on the game itself.”
“You let the game come to you. It’s not something you can go into and say, ‘Here’s how this game is going to play out because we said it in the open of the show.’ It doesn’t always work that way. I’m a firm believer that you watch what happens on the field. Maybe you try to anticipate at certain times of the game and alert fans to possible moves by managers, mistakes by umpires. But I don’t think you can force it,” Brenly said.
“I think there is a very relaxed rhythm to the game of baseball, and the harder you try to force it and make it interesting, the worse it is going to sound. Just be very relaxed, like you are sitting on someone’s couch at home. If the game happens to go south, that’s when you try to have a little bit of fun. A little humor never hurt anything. Every game takes on its own personality.”
Brenly also vowed not to be a second-guesser in the booth.
“What I like to do is give the fans options rather than wait until a play is over and say, ‘Well, he should have done this.’ I think that is the worst kind of broadcasting that you can imagine,” Brenly said.
“If you feel strongly enough about something, say it ahead of time. And rather than say, ‘This is what he should do,’ I say, ‘this is one option, this is another option. Let’s see what happens.’ I may have strong opinions on what should happen, but I think for the fan at home, the best thing I can do is give them all the options and let them manage from their easy chair at home.”