Tim McCarver has called 23 World Series dating back to the 1980s. The last time anyone broadcast a World Series without him, it was 1999 when NBC still had a weird deal where they got the World Series every other year. The thought of replacing Tim McCarver is an interesting one, mostly because there doesn't seem to be a real heir apparent in the balance.
It's not as if Fox has been grooming anyone over the past few years. They haven't really needed to. Since Fox stopped covering both League Championship Series, Fox has never needed a No. 2 broadcast team. That used to be Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons. Lyons is essentially blacklisted from appearing on national television, and hasn't since 2006.
Fox will no doubt take great care in their choice for top analyst to work with Joe Buck, as they have the broadcast rights to the World Series through 2021. They also will have more baseball, with a cable studio show coming, and some Division Series games. McCarver was from a broadcast, three-channels world, where he could just helicopter in every Saturday and in the playoffs and not say much else. Whomever Fox chooses will need to be on Fox and Fox Sports 1 more in a week than McCarver is in a month.
With that said, I've thought up some potential candidates. Only one is based on any genuine speculation from another source, the others are either logical choices, something to "shake things up", hypothetical wishing and flat out jokes. See if you can determine which is which!
John Smoltz and/or Ron Darling. Darling -- who also works 100+ games a year for SNY -- and Smoltz -- who contributes to MLB Network -- are probably the most prominent analysts in terms of big games worked other than McCarver in recent memory. They've been TBS' two lead analysts for the League Championship Series since 2010, with Darling serving in that capacity since 2008. Richard Deitsch threw out both of their names in his column on McCarver's retirement yesterday.
While one would think, since TBS isn't going anywhere, they might not be keen to move, business is shrinking at the network in terms of actual baseball coverage. They'll cut back from 26 Sunday afternoon games to 13 at the end of the season, and only two of the four Division Series starting in 2014. It might seem like the more likely jump for Smoltz to make, rather than Darling who already has enough local commitments.
Smoltz would be an interesting choice. He's decent enough, problems with sabermetrics aside, and continues to get plum baseball assignments (MLB Network had him work some of the World Baseball Classic). Darling is more charismatic, in my opinion, but more effective on a local level when it almost feels as if he's playing The Leonard Maltin Game with Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez. But I doubt many would complain about either or both being promoted.
Eric Karros. This is the closest Fox can really come to "hiring from within". No one has made more appearances on Fox's MLB telecasts other than McCarver aside from Karros, who was hired in 2007. He's also always on the studio crew for the network's LCS and World Series coverage, and has some national recognition, given that you hear his voice whenever you play MLB: The Show. I'll be honest, I've very rarely heard Karros' voice when it wasn't pre-recorded lines on a video game. But he would certainly be the easiest choice.
Tom Verducci. Here's one that might shake things up. While the SI writer has performed in the typical "on field reporter" role for MLB Network and TBS, both MLB Net and Fox used him last year as a color analyst, and he was... pretty good at it. Baseball seems like the most logical sport to go with a non-ex jock for a big analyst gig, just because you want someone who could fill a ton of time. Verducci seems capable of that, and it would certainly be a bold step by Fox. Tony Kornheiser didn't work on Monday Night Football, but Verducci is far from his outspoken personality. Plus, Verducci is a tried and true baseball man.
Doug Glanville. Glanville, who I don't think is on television nearly enough, has quietly become one of baseball's known "thinkers". Similar to Darling in having an Ivy League education, Glanville is funny and cerebral. Why not throw someone with Joe Buck who might have a chance of understanding half of Buck's jokes? In addition to being a solid analyst, Glanville has done some really great op-eds for The New York Times. Would that translate into great television in primetime during the World Series? You could certainly do worse.
Ken Griffey, Jr. Total wishful thinking on my part. He doesn't do broadcasting and has remained fairly quiet since he left the sport in 2010, but it's as close to a perfect hire that Fox could do on name recognition alone. Easily the most popular player of the 90's before Derek Jeter showed up, is there anyone who doesn't love Junior Griffey? The answer is only inhuman monsters.
Griffey is a terrific balance of someone who has played the modern game, and also has never been tied to steroids. Every broadcast could just be Joe Buck asking Griffey if he'll play pepper with him and I'll tune in. Probably never gonna' happen, but a man can dream, eh?
Joe Morgan. Kidding. I promise. At least... I hope so.