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Jeff Francoeur to become the Braves main TV analyst

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that there are big changes coming to Braves broadcasts. Joe Simpson is going to be (mostly) out as the TV analyst and will be shifted to radio. In the TV booth next to Chip Caray for most games: Jeff Francoeur.

Francoeur has gotten a decent amount of time on Braves broadcasts in the past couple of years, with Tom Glavine getting some reps as well. From what I’ve heard of him he’s fine. Not transcendently insightful, but a pleasant enough second voice who can handle the job. Really, though, this should be seen as a rebuke of Joe Simpson, who has been in the Braves TV booth for over 25 years and who was recently inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame.

Simpson has made some unwelcome headlines in the past few years for some comments that raised eyebrows. This past season he implied that Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was lying about his age. He also, strangely, criticized Chase Utley for taking batting practice in a t-shirt, calling it unprofessional. Beyond that, there is a general sense that Simpson is increasingly out of touch with today’s game, seeing it through the eyes of an old timer, even if he’s not particularly old. For what it’s worth, he was much the same way in the early 90s when he was younger than I am now, but that’s probably another conversation.

Either way, Simpson doesn’t seem too happy about it. From the AJC:

Simpson said he was “surprised” by the extent of the change.

“I had proposed cutting back, but my proposal was a lot different than theirs,” Simpson said. “I was suggesting maybe cutting back to like 120 TV games, hoping to fill in the rest with some radio. But they’ve cut me back to 20 or 30 TV games with the rest being radio, so that came as a surprise.”

The move was reportedly a joint one, decided on by Fox Sports South in conjunction with the Braves.

So get used to a lot more Francoeur. Who, if his historical form holds, will start the season off with three or four months of the best analysis you’ve ever seen, after which he will be generally average for the next decade yet people will still think of him as a star. Can’t wait.

 

 

MLB calls umpire union statement about Manny Machado discipline “inappropriate”

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Earlier today the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association made multiple posts on social media registering its displeasure at what it feels was the league’s weak discipline of Manny Machado following his run-in with umpire Bill Welke. It was an unusual statement, as it’s not common for umpires, individual or via their union to comment on such matters.

This evening, in an official statement, the league called it inappropriate:

“Manny Machado was suspended by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, who considered all the facts and circumstances of Machado’s conduct, including precedent, in determining the appropriate level of discipline.  Mr. Machado is appealing his suspension and we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association, just as it would not be appropriate for the Players Association to comment on disciplinary decisions made with respect to umpires.  We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”

That final bit, about workplace violence, is something that I didn’t really consider when I read the umps’ statements, but it’s a damn good point. In an age where people are literally shooting up workplaces, umpires making reference to that kind of thing in response to a player throwing a bat is pretty rich indeed. And in pretty poor taste.