Joe's MLB on TV Report - Braves

Number twenty-one in a series: we’re legal!

Broadcast: Atlanta Braves on SportSouth, St. Louis at Braves, 7/28/08; Announcers: Jon Sciambi (play-by-play), Joe Simpson (analyst)

Remember when just about every Atlanta Braves game was televised on TBS? Although I’m not a Braves fan, as a baseball fan I liked the fact that the games were available on the Atlanta “superstation.”

Those were the days. In October 2007 TBS split up. The over-the-air WTBS became known as Peachtree TV and is now only available in Atlanta, while TBS became strictly a national cable network. Braves games are no longer on TBS. Some games are on Peachtree TV in Atlanta, while most are on FSN South or SportSouth.

The reason I bring all of this up (other than to fill space) is because for many years when you thought of the Braves on TV, you automatically thought of Skip Caray, son of the legendary Harry Caray, and a Braves broadcaster since 1976. But these days you won’t catch Skip Caray (or his son Chip, also a Braves announcer) on a Braves telecast unless it’s on over-the-air Peachtree TV.

Thus, for this dreadful game in which the Cardinals rolled to an easy 12-3 victory, we were stuck with Jon Sciambi, who is yet another of the younger generation of play-by-play performers who feel the need to talk almost non-stop and to be funny. (And based on his referring to the 1983 World Series in which, he said, "the Orioles beat my Phillies,” he’s apparently a Philadelphia-area native. I’m not sure how I feel about this.)

Early on he read a promo for a Braves’ ticket offer which not only included tickets at a reduced price but also a free $25 gas card, and added that he finally got to use the commercial line “But wait -- there's more!” Of course, he had the same ticket offer to promote two or three more times and used the line each time.

It got especially bad in the bottom of the 4th inning, by which point the Cards were already up 8-0. It was time for the answer to the nightly trivia question. The question asked who was the only St. Louis right fielder since 1960 to hit 30 or more homers in a season. Partner-in-crime Joe Simpson guessed correctly that the answer was Jack Clark, and began singing a song called “How Do You Like Me Now,” which a Google search tells me is a song by Toby Keith. Sciambi protested, because Clark apparently only played one game in right field in the year in question.

This isn’t to say that the broadcast was a total disaster. There was an interesting discussion of the trade deadline and whether the Braves would be buyers or sellers, seeing as how they were slipping in the NL East standings and had to put pitcher Tim Hudson on the disabled list, probably for some time based on MRI results showing elbow damage. And one of the hot topics of the season, the shattering maple bats and their safety, came up when a broken bat hit plate umpire Adrian Johnson right in the front of his mask.

But it was hit-and-miss all night. In the 9th Julian Tavarez came on for Atlanta, and Sciambi commented that Tavarez had changed his pitching motion again. (Simpson: “It is Monday…”) A few minutes later Sciambi corrected himself, saying Tavarez was just pitching out of the stretch instead of a full windup.

The SportSouth graphics looked nice, but they misidentified the Braves’ Greg Norton as a pinch-hitter in the 8th when Norton had actually come into the game to play left field in the 7th as part of a double-switch. Grade: C-minus. -- Joe Guckin

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