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McCarver compares Yankees to Nazis and Communists. But that's not the real problem

Jul 19, 2010, 8:50 AM EDT

What McCarver said wasn't, as many are claiming, "outrageous." It was simply dumb.

It doesn’t happen very often, but Tim McCarver actually said something interesting during the Yankees-Rays game on Saturday. Too bad it wasn’t interesting in a good way. Here’s what he said, transcribed by Lisa Swan over at Subway Squawkers (Note: NY Stadium Insider had it first, with video):

You remember some of those despotic leaders in World War II, primarily
in Russia and Germany, where they used to take those pictures that they
had … taken of former generals who were no longer alive, they had shot
‘em. They would airbrush the pictures, and airbrushed the generals out
of the pictures. In a sense, that’s what the Yankees have done with Joe
Torre. They have airbrushed his legacy. I mean, there’s no sign of Joe
Torre at the stadium. And, that’s ridiculous. I don’t understand it.

Not surprisingly, this has created a great deal of ire across the Internets since Saturday. And I understand why.  What he said was really, really stupid. Only I don’t think the Nazi/Communist comparison — in and of itself — is what makes the comments stupid.

Obviously anyone should tread lightly when playing the Nazi/Soviet card because it’s not too often that you’re going to be making a fair comparison in terms of moral equivalence. I mean really, no matter who your subject is, odds are pretty good that he or she wasn’t responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people.

But McCarver is obviously not making a moral equivalence here. He’s simply saying that he thinks the Yankees are playing propaganda games like Hitler and Stalin did. As I explain below it’s a dumb point, but if you’re trying to make a propaganda analogy — especially when talking about airbrushing figures out of photos in an effort to alter history — Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia really are the go-to references. Heavy-handed, sure, but I don’t think McCarver is treading in taboo territory here.

But his comments were stupid. Why? Because as several people have pointed out, he’s simply wrong. There are pictures of Torre on championship banners on field level at the ballpark. There are photos of him in pictures of celebrations of championships in some of the luxury boxes and elsewhere.  As such, McCarver saying that Torre has been removed from Yankees history is just false.

And really, what would McCarver have the Yankees do regarding Torre’s legacy at this point? He’s an active manager working for a historic rival. When he left town, he wrote a book about the Yankees that pissed just about everyone off.  Would McCarver expect the Yankees to have a statue of Joe Torre up at the main gate? Should there be a giant banner with his likeness hanging next to the Hess ad on the scoreboard? Call me in 25 years if the Yankees haven’t honored Torre somehow, but I think it’s a little premature for the team to be building monuments to the man, especially given the recent bad blood.

Oh, and one final note. If McCarver is going to accuse the Yankees of not treating Torre’s legacy fairly, perhaps he should disclose to viewers who were not otherwise aware that he is Torre’s close friend and former teammate and may very well be letting his personal feelings color his perception of how the guy is being treated by the Yankees.

The upshot of all of this: I’m not going to burn McCarver at the stake for saying what he said, because his comments weren’t outrageous in the way a lot of people are saying.  They were just wrong in the fairly normal and conventional way in which we’ve come to expect Tim McCarver to be wrong about things over the years.

  1. maccars - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    I think every Mid-South history buff has a good Professor Foote story. Perhaps, we can all meet for brews and get a good laugh . . . .

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    Le me get this straight:
    1. Tim McCarver compares the Yankees to the Nazis and the Communists
    2. I write a post telling people that Tim McCarver compared the Yankees to the Nazis and the Communists.
    3. I am therefore “sucker punching” McCarver by “associat[ing] his good name to Nazis and Communists”?
    You’re a total loon. You realize that, don’t you? If your construct of reality were to actually make sense, people could say absolutely anything they want about anyone and the second someone questioned them about it the questioners would be the ones “poisoning the well” as you put it.
    Do you simply believe that people have no responsibility for the things they say, or are you merely trolling?

  3. Baseball First - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    It is comforting to know so many others turn down the sound when McCarver is in the booth. He is just unbearable, regardless of what two teams are on the field.

  4. Jimsjam33 - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Okay , just a few words from the loon .
    It seems to be a jounalistic principal lately to never let the truth get in the way of writing a good story . McCarver never mentioned Naz’s communism , or Stalin . You did ! He mentioned Germany and Russia . Innocent enough in my opinion . You come along , with your stated bias and dislike for the man , and totally change his premise about Joe torre . You , Mr. Calcaterra twisted the truth , spinned it your way , and then spewed it to make it look like McCarver is a bad guy . nah . This loon see’s it for what it is . Fantasy land , unicorns , and fairies …. La la la jpurnalism …blah blah
    Funny , but in principal , I usually don’t reply to loons or lunatics because the argument is a rationalism by the other guy . I’ll make an exception in your case .

  5. Craig Calcaterra - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    So you’re saying that “despotic leaders in World War II, primarily in Russia and Germany” doesn’t refer to Nazis and Stalin?
    OK, fine. I’m done arguing with you. Please go find some medication.

  6. dsmith4444 - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    And this is journalistic unintegrity at its best. Did you convery to everyone that you are friends with the yankee ownership and that you once went to school with a Seitnbrenner kid. You should be ashamed. I know that I am just ofr giving you this attention.

  7. jimbo1949 - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    The really ridiculous comments were concerning the injury to AJ Burnett. Claiming that AJ cut his hand on a pie pan while delivering Swisher’s walk off pie on Friday were the rantings of an out of touch “old school ballplayer” who’s only claim to fame was being Carlton’s catcher. Where’s Deion when you need him.

  8. ken covert - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    Craig ..A lil over the top on this one…must have been a slow news day to pick apart McCarver..don’t hate the player…McCarvers’ longevity shows something is right…maybe one day when he is truly
    washed up he could do a sports column..something on the internet ..kind of one like this!!!

  9. YankeesfanLen - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    I’ve kind of missed this lately. The well-after-noon risers are back at the Blue Network. Hoo-Ray Hoo-Ray Hoo-Ray!

  10. DMonMcD - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:12 PM

    Man, I never thought the day would come: as a Red Sox fan I could not agree with you more! He is just awful and whenever there is a game on Fox I just turn it down and listen to the radio! He was out of line this time and pretty much every time he steps to the mike! We had a petition to try to get rid of him, maybe if us Sox and Yanks fans came together we could get rid of this moron once and for all!

  11. Pisano - Jul 19, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    Boy , he has a bad habit of putting his foot in his mouth . I remember him as a good catcher , but now all he catches hi his own foot . Tim, just call the game and keep your opinions to yourself.

  12. John07022 - Jul 20, 2010 at 7:09 AM

    I thought I was the ONLY one who HAS to turn the sound down to watch a Fox Baseball game. This guy is SUPER annoying. PLEASE tell me he is gone. I have had to miss several World Series games because of his irritating voice.

  13. bushleaguebubba - Jul 20, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    McCarver must have something on someone at the network to continue in his post for nationally televised games. He’s been there way past his prime.

  14. Johnnyb10 - Jul 20, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Put him together with Buck & I want to jump off my roof. Has anyone else noticed that when there’s a player who had a father also play MLB, McCarver calls him by the older players name. He called Nick, Steve Swisher the other day. I’ve heard him call Brett, Bob Boone. And when it came to the the three generations of the Bell’s – his head just spun like Linda Blair.

  15. ferfer174 - Jul 20, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    Tim McCarver was, is, and always be a Met! He HATES the Yankees. Just incase any of you were unaware of that! The only thing worse than listening to McCarver broadcast a Yankee game….is listening to Joe Buck or Joe Morgan (*who also hates the Yankees)
    Juuust because you played the game a million years ago…should not be a reason to be put on air as an expert! OMG…he is SO ANNOYING!!!
    The nazi remark is just a symptom of a larger problem!
    RE: DMonMcD…Hate to admit it…but you are RIGHT!!!

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