Press Coverage: Tim McCarver, Gus Johnson, Rethinking Blackouts and UConn's Levels of Loss

Yeah, yeah, I said last week Phils in five. Cue the laugh track now, Yankees fans. But here's the thing about the Phillies punch-me-in-the-face-because-it-will-make-the-stomach-punch-from-Brad-Lidge-hurt-less ending of Sunday night's game – it was awesome. Even Joe Buck got excited when Pedro Feliz took a two-out pitch over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game. And all the drama in the ninth inning of a tie game in the World Series happened with two outs after Carlos Ruiz nearly caught a Johnny Damon foul tip. From a storyline standpoint, Brad Lidge imploding after being inches away from being a potential hero is the story of the Phillies 2009 season. It's poetic, in a way. (Not poetic justice, mind you. Just poetic.) ↵

↵And let's be fair, Buck has been very good calling this World Series. You know the mark of a good announcer is when the fan bases of each city complain equally that you're rooting for the other team. And that's how Buck has played the Series. Sure, it would be nice for him to get a little more excited about a few plays, but he's a national broadcaster – his job is basically to stay out of the way and hand it over to the analyst for insight. ↵

↵

↵And that's where FOX loses everyone. Tim McCarver should no longer be doing big games. He seems like a nice man, and there is something about his folksy nature that's oddly reassuring. That is, until you actually look up what he's saying. Take Sunday night, for example, when McCarver tried to illustrate how well CC Sabathia was performing against the left-handed heart of the Phillies lineup. ↵

↵
↵⇥"The ineffectiveness of the Phillies hitters against lefthanded pitching continues. They have been dominated by the Yankee lefthanders. Utley, Howard and Ibanez. " ↵
↵

↵Fair enough, Tim, on Howard and Ibanez. One could make the case that the two sluggers have been equally as bad with lefties as righties in the Series. But Utley? Sure he had an awkward check-swing pop out the batter before the comment, but Utley is 4-15 in the World Series with three home runs and a double, all off Sabathia, who was pitching at the time! Sure, the last home run came later in the game, well after McCarver's comments, but even still, Utley had two home runs and an RBI-double that was almost a home run in the Series, all against the specific left-hander you were using as an example. Far from dominated. ↵

↵

↵And that's just one example of McCarver talking to talk. I'm convinced he's not listening to his own commentary, even while he's doing the commentating. Are people at FOX pleased with his work in the playoffs? Are they afraid to say something in his ear when he makes erroneous statements? Buck had no issue correcting himself when he mentioned Pearl Jam was playing at the Spectrum Sunday night – even though he made a mistake in his correction about the number of nights they were in town. Clearly someone put that info in Buck's ear. Is McCarver immune? Or is he ignoring them? ↵

↵

↵UConn Football and Different Levels of Loss ↵
↵If you didn't catch the ending of the Rutgers v. UConn game on Saturday – and most of you probably didn't see it live – it was, in a word, insane. The Huskies were down all game and fought back to take the lead with just under 40 seconds to go in their first home game since the murder of teammate Jasper Howard. It was an emotional scene to say the least. ↵

↵

↵Rutgers got the ball, now trailing, with just over half a minute remaining after having the game locked up just minutes earlier. In the hands of defeat for the Scarlet Knights, this happened: ↵

↵

↵  ↵

↵
↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵

↵Gut-wrenching. The University of Connecticut community did not deserve an ending like this on that day. The only solace, perhaps, in the moment was the fact that Tim Brown, the receiver who scored winning touchdown in what was likely his best game as a collegiate player – was best friends with Howard, growing up on the same street in Miami. ↵

↵

↵I had a chance to chat with Chris Carlin, who called the game for Rutgers (and whose voice is dubbed over the video above), about the ending, his call and the day at UConn: ↵

↵

↵DL: In your years in broadcasting, have you ever seen an ending like that, with a fourth-down run for one team to take the lead, and on the next play, a touchdown like Rutgers had to win the game, all within the last 40 seconds of play? ↵

↵

↵Carlin: In games that I've actually had a chance to do, no -- that was absolutely the unbelievable ending I've ever been a part of. ↵

↵

↵DL: How much of your call is just sheer excitement at what you're watching -- team notwithstanding -- and how much of your call was, "holy cow this is happening to our team?" In other words, if you're doing a national game, do you get that excited, or did a little bit of Homer fly out during the call? ↵

↵

↵Carlin: I think the excitement would've been there if it were a national broadcast, but it would've been a different kind of excitement -- a little more subdued excitement, if that makes any sense. I called Tim Brown "Timmy" during the play -- wouldn't have done that if it were a national broadcast. As the Rutgers announcer, I've become attached to the program over the years, and especially the fans. When you see these guys week in and week out, you can't help it. Plus, I'm a Jersey guy, and I have always had a big sense of pride in the State University. New Jersey gets knocked around a lot, but Rutgers football has given us something to be proud of. ↵

↵

↵DL: Immediately after the touchdown, you and (color analyst) Ray Lucas made sure to comment that you "feel sick for the UConn fans" for what they've gone through the last few weeks dealing with the murder of one of their teammates and classmates. The roller coaster of emotions in the stadium in a five-minute span must have been incredible. ↵

↵

↵Carlin: As the last few minutes of the game unfolded, you just had the sense that some things were meant to be. The UConn football program, the university, for that matter the state of Connecticut, has handled the situation so incredibly well. There's so much to admire in the way they've weathered a terrible tragedy. If they had won the game, you couldn't have helped but to feel good for them, but as the game-winning TD happened, as exciting as it was, you still think about the people on the other side of it. They're great fans, good people, and didn't deserve to lose the game on that day. ↵

↵

↵DL: Jasper Howard was a teammate of the UConn players – part of their football family – but Timmy Brown, who had maybe the game of his life, grew up on the same street as Jazz. You did a good job of reminding listeners throughout the game. Of all guys to score that touchdown on a day like that, it seemed kind of fitting, no? ↵

↵

↵Carlin: Frankly, Timmy was the only player who could've scored that touchdown for it to be right. He was so close to Jazz -- Brendan Prunty wrote a great story in the Star Ledger about how he and Jazz grew up on NW 62nd Street in Miami, and Jazz wore "6" and Timmy wore "2" so they wouldn't forget where they came from. As he crossed the goal line, he put 6 fingers in the air. Timmy told Jazz's family that he'd dedicate not only Saturday but every game he plays to Jazz's memory. Timmy's such a great kid; he deserved the moment. ↵

↵

↵DL: Going back to the play, and the situation on the field ... isn't that what makes college football great? Even a game between two middle-of-the-pack teams in a middle-of-the-pack conference can give something you, as a broadcaster, and we as listeners, will never forget. ↵

↵

↵Carlin: In many ways, college football is a lot more compelling than the games played on Sunday. I love it, and moments like Saturday's are why I love doing what I get the privilege to do every week in the fall. ↵

↵

↵This Play-by-Play Call ... Not So Good ↵
↵People always seem to be talking about Gus Johnson's call and expect today to be no different. When Chris Johnson rushed for a 52-yard touchdown in Tennessee's 30-13 win over Jacksonville, Gus Johnson used a pretty questionable analogy. ↵

↵
↵⇥"First down and ten. Johnson ... gets his shoulders square! Watch out! He's got gettin' away from the cops speed. Touchdown. " ↵
↵

↵Now, what does CBS do here? ESPN suspended one of their announcers for making a taco joke about a guy who isn't even Mexican. Let's not wait for Whitlock to chime in on this one (unless he has already) to say that people might look at the situation differently because both Chris and Gus Johnson are black. Had, say, Ian Eagle – or another second-level CBS announcer – used that analogy to describe Johnson's swiftness, he may not have been in the booth for the rest of the second half. Is this just what we've come to expect from Gus Johnson? Is he allowed to say whatever he wants as long as it's excitable? Or was this nothing more than just a playful line and we've become so concerned now with political correctness that we make a big deal about everything? Nah, this one is pretty bad. ↵

↵

↵  ↵

↵

↵Are Blackouts Rewarding Fans? ↵
↵Watching the FOX pregame show (while the wife is shopping for maternity clothes, mind you – brilliant idea with football on in the 'dad' play area and SpongeBob on in the 'kid' play area) I heard Jimmy Johnson's quick-hit analysis on the Rams vs. Lions game. He replied something to the effect of (paraphrasing): "It's a good thing this game is only on in two-percent of the country." ↵

↵

↵The comment was obviously met with cackles from the rest of the studio crew, but it got me to thinking: isn't the concept of a blackout counterintuitive? If you can't sell out your stadium, it means that the city is apathetic about the local football team. Why, then, would you black out that game and give the local football fans a better game to watch? Shouldn't fans in blackout towns be forced to watch their game, especially if they have the worst team in football? Rewarding the fans with better competition will just create more apathy for the local team to the point where nobody will care, win or lose. ↵

↵

↵Isn't the blackout like an out-of-school suspension? 'You're in trouble, so get out of here and think about what you've done. And don't have any fun – remember, you're suspended.' ↵

↵

↵No, that doesn't seem fair at all. I think the blackout rules should be that if a city doesn't sell out their games (let's say two weeks in a row) the rest of their TV is blacked out, and they can only watch that game. No other football. No cooking shows. No Sunday afternoon televangelists. Nothing but that game. That'll learn 'em to show up to the stadium. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.