Sports commentators, perhaps more than the players who actually play the games, are often berated to no end by the informed sports fan set. For the casual fan, the commentator is a voice that explains what’s happening, their word can be taken as gospel. This is why it’s not uncommon for Jeannie or Ted from the mailroom to butt-in on some hardcore water cooler sports talk and exclaim things like “boy, how about all those RBI player X has picked up lately”. You and I may shrug this off as ignorance, but it’s not Jeannie or Ted’s fault that Tim McCarver probably rambled on about how many runners Mark Trumbo has sent home, all the while ignoring the obvious flaws with in his game.
For me, there are a handful of commentators who, over the course of my life, I’ve come to accept as the perfect background noise accompaniment to a live sporting event. Tim McCarver is not among this group. I couldn’t care less how misinformed or biased some of the ramblings from the likes of Jon Miller, Joe Morgan, Marv Albert, and Jim Hughson may be. The mere presence of their voice is something I take comfort in. If I stopped to really pay attention to what they said then I’d probably guffaw at how wrong and/or homerific it may be.
This all leads us to the unsurprising announcement that FOX Sports’ Tim McCarver will pack it in following the 2013 baseball season. For many young sports fans and the web savvy population, McCarver is but an aging colour man whom we laugh at opportunistic screenshots of. Hell, McCarver, during Game One of the 2011 World Series, actually uttered “It’s a five-letter word, S-T-R-I-K-E”. Good Gawd, man.
I recall the “S-T-R-I-K-E” incident rather vividly, as it was after a long night of McCarver mockery on Twitter in which I had engaged in that a friend many years my senior reached out via email. Her concern was that all these whippersnappers were taking advantage of a simple slip-up from a man pushing 70 years of age. My friend asked me if I had ever listened to McCarver call any New York Mets or Philadelphia Phillies games, when he was a younger man. I had not. I never bothered to seek out such recordings, but I was informed that he was once a very great announcer who didn’t deserve the level of ridicule that my generation levied upon him.
I’ve probably laughed at McCarver since that day, in fact, I know I have. Still, he’s enjoyed a very long and successful career. McCarver, now 71-years old, has worked 23 World Series in a row, and 28 Major League Baseball postseasons. With this coming season to be his last, McCarver says “it’s time to cut back”. I’m sure many baseball fans will revel in that. For others, though, it will signify some sort of changing of the guard. I’m of the thinking that it’s best to let them have it.
In the meantime, buckle up for one more season of bewilderment and goofy screenshots courtesy one of baseball’s elder statesmen.