Fox Sports has decreed that they must give us Joe Buck and Tim McCarver as announcers for national baseball telecasts, which include every game of the World Series. And it seems that during every game, one or the other, or both, say something intended to be smart and clever, only it comes out either tired and lame, stupid, head-scratching, or some combination of the three.
Here's last night's:
McCarver was clearly trying to show everyone how baseball-smart he is by claiming that David Murphy's well-placed infield single was "equally" important to Mike Napoli's two-run double.
No, Tim, no. FanGraphs is right, obviously, and it should be obvious to even the most casual fan of the game. Napoli's double won the game for the Rangers; Murphy's hit helped set that up, but Napoli's was the play of the game.
The real question is why Fox continues to foist McCarver on a national audience. There are many capable and competent announcers who know more about modern baseball than McCarver, who turned 70 last week. Joe Posnanski summed it up eloquently on Monday. After praising McCarver's work when it first began on WWOR-TV as a Mets color commentator in the 1980s, Posnanski wrote:
Trouble is, McCarver has been doing this a long time. And one of the sad truths is that sports color commentary tends to have an expiration date (and, I'll admit, sportswriting often does too). There comes a time when everyone has heard the stories, when the insights have become cliches, when the game just changes on you. And if we're being realistic -- and I'm not saying this is true for McCarver because I don't know -- there usually comes a time when longtime color commentators stop doing the prep work, stop working the clubhouses, stop keeping up with the latest news. They rely on their experience, their history. That's just human nature. I thought it was telling when Terry Francona, who was so refreshing in part because he was so up to date, made the point that Kinsler is one of the best young players in the game. Two days later, McCarver said: "I had never thought of him that way."
Posnanski caused a bit of a stir on Twitter Monday night as well when he tweeted:
The answers were overwhelmingly "Vin Scully" -- either Vin and some other color commentator, but most often just Vin by himself. Last summer, there was an online petition to get Fox to bring Scully on for the World Series; Buck even said he'd "step aside". Scully, though, has cut his travel schedule way back for Dodgers games, and Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts writes:
In any case, I have to say again, as much as I would love Scully to do the World Series, I have seen no indication that he has any real desire to do one with the Dodgers not involved. Tony Jackson backed me up on this with a tweet: "Vinnie's last WS was 1997 (on radio). He stopped doing them because he wanted to stop doing them."
With so many baseball fans simply not fond (and I'm being charitable) of Buck and McCarver, there's another way that Fox could improve the broadcast. In the early days of the World Series, national networks used one announcer from each team (along with a national announcer).
Why couldn't they do this now? There are many capable local announcers; having one from each team would give the national audience insight from someone who follows the teams all year, instead of national announcers who, before the World Series, might have seen the players once or twice, if at all.
It's worth thinking about, Fox. The shelf life of McCarver is about done, and so many fans seem to dislike Buck that he might be a turn-off. Before next year's postseason, Fox ought to consider this idea.