With the Dodgers headed to the next round of the playoffs— and the Yankees and Mets bruised–it’s hard not to imagine what NYC would feel like if the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn.
Frank Sinatra memorialized the Dodgers’ move with the melancholy ode “There Used to Be a Ballpark.” It doesn't take a poetry MFA to figure out that it's about the death of childhood, too. Really depressing stuff. Forcing a baseball-related song onto his humble vanity album, baseball announcer Tim McCarver included a version of it on Tim McCarver Sings Selections from the Great American Songbook (a brief listen to free samples will satisfy curiosity).
McCarver, a former All-Star catcher and somehow an Emmy-award winning TV analyst, will announce his last World Series this month. This isn't like the Bums leaving Brooklyn or Mariano Rivera calling it quits. McCarver's exit will receive sarcastic applause. Mercifully, the worst of the ridiculing and chastisement will end.
Finish the sentence however you will: The thing about Tim McCarver’s announcing is, is that his announcing is...
The face of Tim McCarver adorns a mock-Mount Rushmore on the niche blog Awful Announcing. He’s been mocked on “Family Guy,” reviled on Twitter, and muted by millions. Some have filed petitions on Change.org to ask Fox to remove him, as though his employment assaults human decency.
How could someone so bad at a job be elevated to its highest level and remain there for decades?
McCarver’s follies range from would-be Yogiisms (“Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher in baseball. He is always pitching when the other team doesn’t score any runs.”) to the flatly erroneous (“It’s a five-letter word. S-t-r-i-k-e.”). Other memorable moments have been more inexplicable, like confusing Barry Bonds with Barry Manilow.
It’s easy to dislike Tim McCarver’s job performance. Yet try articulating why you hate Tim McCarver to someone who doesn’t like sports, and you’ll sound like a cantankerous ass. Where does such venomous anger come from?
McCarver enjoyed a long playing career, mostly remembered for being the trusted catcher of Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton. He won the World Series twice, including the socially tumultuous championship season chronicled in David Halberstam’s narrative October 1964.
Turning to the microphone upon retirement from the game, McCarver played a key role in the modernization of sports announcing. His early work was considered groundbreaking analysis rather than mere commentary.
That he misses the mark for today’s listeners is probably his fault—at 71, McCarver is years younger than many announcers who keep up with the sport and do not incite rage in the listener—but we cannot blame McCarver for Fox’s decision to keep him on the job. Longevity implies tradition, something a television company hopes to create when producing sports shows.
McCarver will likely be heard from again, but never in the All-Star Game or World Series. For better or worse, October television won’t be the same without him.