The times, they really are a changin’ in Atlanta. First the team failed to win the NL East for the first time in 14 seasons. Now TBS has canned long-time play-by-play voice Don Sutton. From the AJC:
The company instead has offered Sutton a role as an analyst on Division Series playoff games that will air on TBS beginning next year. Sutton is “mulling that opportunity,” Pomeroy said.But such a role probably would involve calling no more than five playoff games — a far cry from the 100-plus Braves games Sutton has called annually for the past 18 seasons.
Sutton’s departure is just part of the shake-up at Turner Broadcasting. Earlier this year Turner sold regional cable channel Turner South to Fox Cable Networks. Since then Turner Sports’ five-man Braves broadcast rotation — Skip Caray, Chip Caray, Pete Van Wieren, Sutton and Joe Simpson — has been overstocked. The sale leaves 70 TBS Braves telecasts and 162 radio games to be covered by the Turner Sports announcing crew next season, triggering a decision to pare the group from five to four.Since as long as I can remember, most Braves games have been broadcast on TBS, a national network. That was a huge advantage for the Braves, because it often meant that, in markets where there was no other team, Americans would adopt the Braves as their own.
Turner Sports’ Braves telecasts will be further reduced in 2008, when TBS cuts back from 70 games nationally to 45 locally. At that time, an additional 25 local Braves telecasts will shift to Fox, and TBS will air non-Braves games nationally with a new Sunday afternoon MLB package.
Turner is targeting Iron Man Cal Ripken to broadcast their Sunday Game of the Week. Ripken is apparently still weighing his options, but looks to be interested in the job.