The long-running conversation about the new play by play voice of the St. Louis Cardinals has dramatically shifted to a conversation about the new play by play voice of the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves and Bally Sports South suddenly have an opening in the booth following the reported departure of Chip Caray to the Cardinals and Bally Sports Midwest.
There isn’t much time to find a replacement before the start of Spring Training, and MLB.com’s Mark Bowman threw out some names that could be possible replacements: ESPN’s Tom Hart, who previously worked as a Braves reporter on Fox Sports South, radio play by play voice Ben Ingram, and Rich Waltz, who has previously done play by play for the Marlins and Angels and has a national profile through his work with CBS Sports.
Tom Hart and Ben Ingram are among those who could replace Chip Caray. Former Marlins broadcaster Rich Waltz has ties to some Bally Sports South execs. But Bally’s financial woes could influence the decision
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) January 24, 2023
All three names mentioned by Bowman make sense on different levels.
Hart feels like the aspirational hire, or the stretch goal. He’s the broadcaster that the Braves would love to hire, the slam dunk choice that checks just about every box. But Hart has a growing national profile through his work with ESPN and SEC Network, and pulling him away from even some of that work (plenty of broadcasters split local and national work in a variety of sports, so it’s not a case of one or the other) might be difficult, especially with a condensed timeframe.
Ingram feels like the easiest hire. He already calls Braves games on the radio. But would he want the move to TV? It’s not a guarantee – we saw that with the Cardinals job, when broadcasters Ricky Horton and John Rooney each said they preferred to continue working on the radio side.
Waltz feels like the safe choice who might end up being a stopgap, much as he was in Anaheim during the 2021 season. He joined the team’s broadcasts on Bally Sports West in the middle of the season to replace Daron Sutton, and wasn’t asked back for 2022. It does seem possible that he could head to Atlanta for the 2023 season, with the team aiming on next offseason with a larger hiring window to find a long-term replacement.
By necessity, I don’t think this search will be as drawn out as the Cardinals’ search was. Because of that, I’m inclined to think a shorter-term hire in the mold of Waltz will be the move. But hey, I didn’t even consider that Caray would take the Cardinals job, so maybe I’ll get surprised again.