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October 09, 2013

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I hadn't realized that there was such strong anti-McCarver feeling out there. For what it's worth, he was the best Mets' announcer during their glory years in the 1980s, sophisticated and intelligent, so much so that when he had a book in 1987, the year after the Mets beat the Bosox in the World Series, I persuaded my Newsweek boss to let me fly to Philadelphia, take Tim to lunch (at Le Bec Fin), and pick his mind about the year ahead. This was in February or March 1987. McCarver impressed me with his shrewd assessments. There was, for example, a rumor that the Mets were going to trade Mookie Wilson and Ron Darling to the Dodgers for Orel Hershiser. "No way are the Dodgers going to do that," McCarver said. "Hershiser is maybe one season away from a breakout year." And indeed, in 1988, Hershiser broke the scoreless innings record that Don Drysdale had set, and led the erstwhile Bums to a surprise World Series win over the A's. I also remember McCarver's saying, in the final inning of game 7 of the 2001 Series, that the Yankees should play their infield deep, not in, for Luis Gonzalez. He was right, the Yanks played it wrong, and Arizona copped the game and the Series.

I remember, too, when the Mets started turning their team around -- in '84 or '85 -- that McCarver hummed Duke Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" on the air. I always liked him for that.

True, I haven't kept up with the Tennessee-born former Cards' and Phillies' catcher in recent years, so I don't know what he said to piss off the hoi polloi, but, well, I suspect that sports fans are yet more critical and difficult to please than, say, critics writing for Poetry magazoon during the Wiman decade. -- DL

What an incredible lunch that must have been! Excellent. I should have clarified perhaps that the anti-McCarver sentiments are specifically aimed at his Fox postseason work, not his whole career in the booth.

Thinking on it further, I believe that his verbal gaffes merely give people fodder for some other reason of disliking him, and that his longevity simply led to too many people disliking him... with my theory being that everyone cheering for the losing team hates the announcers and the umps. After 24 World Series, most fans have heard him call games when their team was losing, and they were anxious and angry. McCarver, having ascended to a level most of us do not reach, is relaxed and cracking jokes when you're watching your team fail.

I think your theory has a lot going for it. If you're rooting for a team in a national series, you're going to hate the network announcers.

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Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
                   

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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This Way Out

THE RULE OF THUMB
by T.P.Winch

Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.

 

 


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