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.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.