Do the Atlanta Braves Have a TV Analyst Problem?
By all accounts the Atlanta Braves have had a surprisingly good 2018 baseball season leading the National League East for months and still contending for a pennant and/or playoff berth.
After an offseason featuring a General Manager getting banned for baseball for life and several other front office types getting fired for breaking multiple rules---the 2018 success was desperately needed.
However of late---the Braves have a somewhat minor "Off Field" issue they may increasingly be forced to deal with.
Longtime Braves TV Analyst Joe Simpson has in the span of two weeks, managed to draw headlines in the baseball world for essentially sticking his foot in his mouth.
The first issue came a little over a week ago when he sharply criticized the Los Angeles Dodgers---who were in Atlanta for a weekend series with the Braves---for being "Unprofessional" by wearing t-shirts and shorts during pre-game batting practice.
What Simpson failed to notice is most of the Dodgers were wearing T-Shirts showing their support for former Braves and St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jason Motte's "K-Cancer" charity. Proceeds from the t-shirts go to cancer research and a children's hospital.
The next day, Simpson went to the Dodgers locker room and apologized to the target of his criticism--Dodgers 2B Chase Utley and to the team.
And then there was Tuesday afternoon in Game 1 of a Braves Doubleheader vs. The Washington Nationals in Washington D.C....
Early in the game---Simpson made a comment which drew the ire of, well, most of the Baseball world when he starting riffing questions about Nationals 19-year old phenom Juan Soto while Soto was at bat.
Simpson wondered aloud whether or not Soto actually was 19, mentioning among other things his "Man Growth"....
Which is all well and good but has raised a bigger picture question for the Braves--and to some extent some other teams.
The 66-year old Simpson is a legacy broadcaster who has been with the team for decades. He played the game, but back in a different era in the late 70's. And more than one person has raised the question about him being "Out of Touch" with today's game.
It's not a question for me...or you to answer, the team has to deal with it. Having met and spoken with Simpson in years gone by---he's a very nice and sincere man who is what you'd easily call a "Baseball Lifer"...but the "Out of Touch" question is a legitimate one.
It's a difficult question to answer.
Part of baseball's appeal to many is the history and in the case of broadcasters---nostalgia of growing up with a certain voice to identify your team with. But the game needs a newer generation, younger people who can help take things to the next level.
Which is the dilemma the Braves may very well be facing.
For those in the Atlanta area--there appears to be a training ground of former players being developed and given airtime on the regional network--Fox Sports South. Jeff Francoeur, Tom Glavine, Paul Byrd and others have all appeared at various times on the broadcasts with Simpson and play-by-play guy Chip Caray and all do a solid job.
But how do you cross that line, how do you make a change?
It's not a simple question with a simple answer--I don't envy the team if they are contemplating going there. But it's a question that appears may need to be addressed sooner rather than later....