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Volume 25 No. 175
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People & Personalities: Braves' Booth Change Shakes Up Status Quo

Former MLBer Jeff Francoeur will replace Joe Simpson as the lead analyst on Braves games broadcast on FS South and FS Southeast in '19, and THE ATHLETIC's David O'Brien wrote after "years of status quo in the Braves' broadcast booths, the changes ... were significant." Francoeur said of Simpson, "The first time we talked it was a little bittersweet because I knew he was frustrated and wanted to do more. But after talking to him for a while (it was OK). For him it works great with the radio, you know? And he's excited about that" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/29). NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote Francoeur seems to be a "pleasant enough second voice who can handle the job." However, the move "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" (NBCSPORTS.com, 11/29).

NO EXTENDED ABSENCE: Celtics TV play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman said that he "doesn't expect to miss more than four or five games per year" as part of his new contract that allows him more time off during the season. In Boston, Chad Finn notes Gorman's "slight alteration in schedule shouldn't be taken as a sign of weariness with the gig." Gorman, who has called Celtics games since '81, said that NBC Sports Boston management "approached him recently, even with a year left on his contract, about an extension." Gorman: "In the process, they asked me if I would entertain the idea of taking off some of the harder road trips, which has appealed to me for years" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/30).

UP FOR DEBATE: In Chicago, Jeff Agrest writes with the Big Ten under Fox' purview since last season, the net's Gus Johnson has "become more a part of our lives," but it is "debatable whether that's for the better." There was a time when viewers "couldn't get enough of Johnson." Agrest: "Now you're wondering why he's yelling at you." Johnson has "become a caricature of himself." His voice will "crescendo, then drop off a cliff, only to rise again, sometimes with a shrill for effect, intentional or not" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/30).

POWERFUL ADVOCATE: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes FS Midwest Cardinals play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin this week "made an impassioned nearly 10-minute speech before a committee of St. Louis alderman considering a tax incentive plan that would benefit" a proposed MLS stadium near Union Station. McLaughlin said that the invitation to speak was "extended by key figures in the effort to bring a team to town." He added that FS Midwest and the Cardinals "approved his appearance at the meeting" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/30).