As a ballplayer, Chris Duncan peaked early. After a cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 2005, he hit 22 homers in 90 games during the team's 2006 championship season. (He also made a certain local alternative newsweekly giddy with the PhotoShop possibilities after he posed for a photo pretending to hump the World Series trophy.) He followed this with a solid 2007, but then injuries derailed his career, and he was out of baseball after 2010. For the 2011 season, 101 ESPN (WXOS 101.1 FM) invited Duncan to be one of its baseball analysts, and this relatively inconsequential gig — ten- to fifteen-minute guest appearances a few times a week on the station's various shows — revealed a gem. Duncan is a natural behind the mic, and at the beginning of this year, after a brief stint on the station's evening program, ESPN 101 installed him as a cohost of its top-rated flagship show, the drive-time Fast Lane with Randy Karraker and D'Marco Farr. Of course, Duncan brings the brotastic locker-room humor that we expect from our ex-jock broadcasters ("crushing man sodas" for drinking beer is one of his catch phrases), but he leavens this with a streak of self-deprecation, and his laughing recollections of how overmatched he was by a certain pitcher's nasty stuff can be as revealing as any statistical analysis. Unlike so many former athletes, however (we're looking at you, Joe Morgan), Duncan doesn't turn up his nose at statistics, and he doesn't give athletes, even former teammates, the benefit of the doubt. We'll raise a man soda to that.
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