Sad news to pass along this morning, as the Braves have announced that longtime broadcaster Pete Van Wieren has passed away following a long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
Nicknamed “The Professor,” Van Wieren called Braves games on television and radio for 33 seasons from 1976-2008. He became well-known nationally as a part of the TBS booth alongside the likes of Skip Caray, Ernie Johnson Sr., Don Sutton, and Joe Simpson. During his time with Turner Sports, he also broadcasted NBA, NHL, and Big Ten Conference football games.
Van Wieren was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2004 along with Caray. After his retirement in 2008, he released a book entitled “Of Mikes and Men: A Lifetime of Braves Baseball,” which was co-written with Jack Wilkinson. The picture to the right is from a pre-game ceremony for Hank Aaron at the Braves home opener this past April.
Our thoughts are with Van Wieren’s family, friends, and colleagues.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.
They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.
As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.
Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.
The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.
Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.
The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.
In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: