Gil Pound: Pound for 'Caray'-ing on

Jan. 31—The most shocking move relating to the Atlanta Braves this offseason (so far) has nothing to do with the players on the field.

(Spare me, Dansby lovers, he was always going to leave for more money than the Braves were willing to pay him.)

Last week, David O'Brien of sports media website The Athletic reported that Chip Caray is leaving the Braves television broadcast booth for the same position with the St. Louis Cardinals. Regional sports network Bally Sports Midwest confirmed the news Monday afternoon.

Why is the move so jarring? It's because there has been a Caray calling play-by-play for the Braves going all the way back to 1976. First it was Skip, who ranks as one of my favorite broadcasters of all-time, then his son Chip joined the Atlanta ball club in 2005, coming over from the Chicago Cubs.

I'll admit that I've been a Chip critic in the past. He wasn't on the level his father was, but very few in the business are. Being as superstitious as I am, I also didn't love it when he'd say, "A double play here would be great," while the Braves were in the field. In my experience, trying to speak things into existence like that seldom works, and I can't recall an instance where his wish came true.

It also drove me nuts when he would get overly excited about fly balls that wound up shy of the warning track. If you've watched any Atlanta baseball in the last 15-plus years, you know what I'm talking about.

I think the turning point for me was when they partnered Chip with Jeff Francouer and moved longtime Braves broadcaster Joe Simpson to radio. The chemistry between Chip and Joe wasn't great, so a change was needed. Once that got figured out, I had come to terms with the fact that Chip was going to be in the broadcast booth the rest of his life and most of the rest of mine.

But I have been wrong before, and will be wrong again.

The news hit me like a brick wall last Monday, I think due to the timing. Here we sit about two months before Opening Day without a television play-by-play guy. Whoever is tabbed as the replacement will be in our homes and cars about 150 days/nights throughout the season, and hopefully more (playoffs). The organization has to get this right.

Luckily there are options readily available. That is if the parties are interested. You've got Ben Ingram handling primary radio play-by-play duties and a severely underutilized Jim Powell. Move one of them to TV and put the other on radio. No strong preference, but I do lean slightly towards putting Powell on the television broadcast. I'd much rather the team go with either of those options than bring in an outsider.

Atlanta Braves Opening Day countdown: 58 days.