I grew up with Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren calling Braves games. They've been doing it since 1976, just a few years before I started paying attention to baseball. It's a cliche, but they have provided the soundtrack to my summers for nearly 30 years.
But that's not good enough for FOX, which recently bought Turner South, one of the Braves' primary broadcast outlets. Skip, Pete, Chip Caray, Don Sutton and Joe Simpson (baseball's best announcing team) have been cast aside for all but 70 TBS games this year, in favor of Bob Rathbun, the leader of the bland (an assist to Al Kosa for that one) and Jeff Torborg, who's a solid analyst but lacks any connection to the home team.
It's akin to replacing Jon Stewart with Ryan Seacrest on "The Daily Show."
FOX's logic (a true contradiction):
"There were many considerations — the view of the fan was obviously a major consideration," according to Jeff Genthner, vice president and general manager of FSN South, "but also the contractual relationships that various announcers have with various companies, the brand of Braves telecasts on TBS and the brand of Braves telecasts on Turner South and Fox."
Now there's a double scoop of B.S. for you. First, if the view of the fan was a consideration, then it's no contest. Skip, Pete and the rest are beloved, locally and nationally. Rathbun is an afterthought, at best. And what fan gives a crap about corporate branding? The only brand that matters is the Braves, and few announcers are more synonymous with a team than the longtime TBS crew.
"It just wasn't a 'We own it, we control it, this is what we're doing decision.' We really cooperatively thought this through with Turner [Broadcasting]. ... We have tremendous regard for Pete and Skip and the rest of the Turner broadcast team."
No you don't, you lying bean counter. I suspect the real reason for their removal is that Skip, in particular, is known to badmouth the boss every now and then, and FOX can't handle any deviation from the program. Besides, they lack "FOX attitude."
The message here is a familiar one: screw you, we own it, and we don't care. I'm no closet socialist, but big business needs to start thinking more about the customer and less about the the bottom line. If not, both will disappear.
That can't happen soon enough with FOX. While I'll still watch their Braves telecasts -- muted when possible -- I don't think a boycott is too much to ask. Think of it: no O'Reilly, no Hannity, no Cavuto, no "American Idol" ... sounds good to me.
Finally, a big middle finger extended to the Murdoch Broadcasting Co. for putting a damper on my summer. Hopefully, you'll be drowning in venom from angry Braves fans all season long. At the very least, Skip, Pete and the rest deserve the love.
To record your dismay with FOX's decision, visit the fan forum here.