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Tim McCarver to retire from Fox at the end of the 2013 season

Mar 27, 2013, 1:02 PM EDT

This is pretty major news in the world of baseball broadcasting:

I know many of you will respond with snark to this because McCarver has become a popular target of scorn in recent years. But it’s probably worth pausing for a minute and realizing (a) just how long McCarver has been the top national color guy in the game; and (b) just how thoroughly he changed the nature of that job during his time on the scene.

When he came onto the broadcasting scene in the late 70s and early 80s, the ex-jock in the booth was almost a comic relief role. They told anecdotes of their playing days and offered an analysis, of sorts, of what just happened on a given play. But so much of it was superficial and so much of it was subjective. A lot of “hoo-boys!” and “that was a nice pitch” kind of commentary. It was usually a friendly voice, but not a necessarily informative one.

McCarver changed that. Especially in his early days, he would break down strategies and pitch sequences in ways that most color guys weren’t really doing.  We take so much of it for granted now, but he really did work to explain what was happening in a game and why and how one thing would lead to the next in ways that TV viewers rarely got.

It’s inescapable that in recent years he’s lost a couple of ticks on his fastball. Part of it is age. Part of it is that the broadcast is so filled with graphics and things that there’s less room for McCarver to talk his way through a thought and reach an interesting conclusion. Some of it is merely relative: we as viewers have so much more information at our disposal that the points McCarver makes may seem somewhat pedestrian or in some cases unnecessary.  But that says more about where we are than were he is.

No, McCarver is not my favorite TV presence. But one need look around at other ex-players following in his footsteps to realize that McCarver is still, to this day, pretty darn good at what he does. For every Ron Darling or Keith Hernandez — ex-players who have taken things to the next level — there is a Rick Sutcliffe and a John Kruk, harkening back to those days when the ex-ballplayer was presumed to have insight and legitimacy in the role simply because he played, not because he was particularly insightful.

But McCarver wasn’t like that. He was the real deal: an intelligent guy who helped viewers understand what they were seeing better than they had before.  And no matter how annoying some of his excesses or his less-trenchant recent analysis can be at times — and no matter how easy a target he has become simply because of his ubiquity during the playoffs — we should all probably appreciate that when we take our shots we’re taking shots at one of the better ones.

And I have this feeling that we’ll appreciate that all the more come this time next year when Fox announces his replacement.

  1. jaysjunkie - Mar 27, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    I knew a lot of ball fans didn’t care for McCarver…didn’t expect this much hate, though. Wow.

    Personally, I’ve never minded him at all. I was actually just watching/listening to him call the ’93 Jays-Phillies World Series over the past few weeks as Sportsnet in Canada re-airs one of the games every week. They also re-aired the ’92 Jays-Braves World Series with him during Christmas week and I just don’t find him as annoying as most would appear to.

  2. sfm073 - Mar 27, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Is there a commentator anyone likes? No matter who replaces him 90% of people wi complain.

    • sometimesimisscandlestick - Mar 27, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      Vin. And this is coming from a Giants fan.

  3. moogro - Mar 27, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    Booming baritone boring Buck blows. That would have been a slightly more welcome retirement for me. Makes one crave Al Michaels or Vin Scully.

  4. schmedley69 - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Bring back Costas and Tony Kubek.

  5. adross47 - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    I can’t hear McCarver’s name without thinking of Family Guy.

  6. badintent - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:21 AM

    I’d like to see hm make a cameo appearance on NFL Networks and dump a themos of ice water on Deon like Deon did on him during the Braves WS locker room celebration.

  7. saintsfire - Mar 28, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    sigh, wish this was retroactive to 2012

    too bad buck, musbarker and costas aren’t getting the axe too.

  8. hojo20 - Mar 28, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    Nice post. He’s kind of like the voice you just grow used to. I remember TM doing the play by play for Pedro’s 17k game at NYY in 1999 on the local Yankee affiliate. He did a great job calling the game.

  9. serbingood - Mar 28, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    And the monotone droning on and on Buck will retire at the end of 2014? One can only hope.

  10. scubagolfjim - Mar 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Moron should have retired before he even started. Too biased in-game and never learned when to just STFU.

    Almost ALL, along with their pathetic directors and producers, need to learn that fans really do not have to have something being said every second of a broadcast. Take a few seconds every now and then, and learn to be NEUTRAL throughout the game.

    And remember, it’s a game! Most really don’t care about the outside drama bullsh1t producers think is pertinent to the game. It’s not. We don’t care if “he’s playing, but his mom is in the hospital” BS. Mention it once? Maybe. To continue to harp on it for the whole game, and then for literally weeks? Hell No.

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