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Braves Ban Announcers From Flight

June 27, 2000

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Braves banned four TBS announcers from the team’s chartered flights after the cable channel revealed the catcher’s box was changed at Turner Field, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.

Skip Caray, Joe Simpson, Don Sutton and Pete Van Wieren usually fly with the team on road trips. Now, they will have to use commercial flights, beginning with Tuesday’s game at Montreal.

The ban was imposed even though TBS and the Braves are both subsidiaries of Time Warner Inc.

During the first inning of Saturday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, TBS aired video showing the catcher’s box was 4 to 5 inches smaller than it was the previous night. The footage was shown after a rare balk call against Atlanta catcher Fernando Lunar for lining up with his right foot outside the box.

The balk figured in the Brewers’ first run and led to the ejection of Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Opposing teams have long claimed that Atlanta pitchers are given the benefit of an extra-wide strike zone, particularly on the outside corners. Catchers who set up wide of the plate can increase the chances of an outside pitch being called a strike.

Simpson and team president Stan Kasten declined comment on the spat, the newspaper said. The other three announcers could not be reached.

Major league baseball said it is looking into the matter.

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