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McCarver Will Leave Millions of Opinions Behind

By Jed Weisberger ~ March 29th, 2013. Filed under: FOX.

FOX baseball analyst Tim McCarver announced earlier this week this season would be his last.  He’s 72 and he obviously feels like taking a step back.

After a 21-year career in Major League Baseball (1959-1980 with St. Louis and Philadelphia twice, along with Boston and Montreal) – plus 33 years in the booth beginning in 1980 – one can’t blame him.

McCarver, when he played with both the Cardinals and Phillies for the first time, no doubt honed his analytical skills as a catcher, having caught no-hitters by Rick Wise and Bill Stoneman. This was further assured during his second (1975-80) stint with the Phillies, during which he served as Steve Carlton’s personal catcher. Since Carlton had cut off relations with the media in 1973, it was often left to McCarver to comment on the pitcher’s effort and feelings about his starts in postgame interviews.

Winner of three Emmy Awards, he actually began broadcasting as the Co-Host of an HBO program known as Race For The Pennant. His first game coverage was with the Phillies revered duo of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn, and was a backup voice on NBC’s Game of the Week.

A native of Memphis, he went on to work at ABC, CBS and presently with FOX with Joe Buck. Locally, he called Phillies games from 1980-82, Mets from 1983-1998, Yankees from 1990-2001 and San Francisco in 2002.

He has been in the booth for 13 World Series and, either as a gamed broadcaster or reporter, every League Championship Series since 1984.

“I enjoy discussing the nuances of the game when I’m broadcasting,’’ McCarver said in a past interview. “It’s always been my style.’’

McCarver’s broadcasts are not always perfect, and he will admit to that. He has, at times, mispronounced names and misinterpreted rules. He has gone over the line here and there as well, an example is how in 2010 he said the Yankees treated former manager Joe Torre “how Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia treated its generals.’’

For that last mention, a forced apology resulted.

There’s little doubt McCarver’s style has irritated some fans. One thing Red Sox and Yankees fans often agree on is both groups feel McCarver openly roots for their teams to lose. It’s hardly that way, but some will swear McCarver “detests’’ my team.

It’s the price of being a national network sports broadcaster.

The biggest criticism McCarver hasd always faced is his habit of overanalyzing. There are times, on the air, when this does become annoying, especially when two or three key moments occur that might make the original issue moot.

This likely has been exacerbated the past few years in his sharing a broadcast booth with Joe Buck, whose father, Jack, was a beloved broadcaster, setting a standard his son will never reach in the baseball booth for certain. Inane comments, mixed with overanalyzing do not translate into a good broadcast.

He has also had a few run-ins with players, notably Deion Sanders, whom he criticized for playing both football and baseball on the same day, and Manny Ramirez, whom he called out for “sloppy, lazy play.’’

Sanders reacted by throwing a bucket of water on McCarver in the Atlanta clubhouse, Ramirez, as was his style, just ignored him.

McCarver, who was last year’s Baseball hall of Fame Ford Frick Award winner, leaves a stamp on the game.  His best days may have been with Al Michaels and Jim Palmer on ABC from 1985-89 and 1994-95 via ABC on the ill-conceived Baseball Network.

He’ll retire after this year, certainly leaving millions of opinions behind.

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Jed Weisberger


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