Reaction to the news of Tim McCarver’s announcement Wednesday that this will be his final season as an analyst with Fox Sports’ MLB game of the week package turned predictably into something that looked more an Internet racquetball tournament.
“McCarver, a great voice for baseball, will be missed,” was the headline on an MLB.com story by Marty Noble.
“Should we miss Tim McCarver?” started one non-nonsensical point-counterpoint debate on SBNation.com.
USAToday.com started posting Twitter responses in hopes of generating more hits about which side of the baseline you fall into when it comes to judging the career of the three-time Emmy Award winner who spent more than two decades doing national games for ABC, CBS and, since 1996, at Fox and has covered more televised World Series games than any broadcaster ever.
Time magazine’s writer on sports, culture and entertainment wondered if McCarver’s accolades or his public perception would ultimately define his legacy.
The best response we took heart came from broadcast partner Joe Buck, who said he not only learned more about the game from McCarver than he did from his own Hall of Fame broadcasting father Jack Buck, but he learned how best to deal with the backlash of criticism as one who could not only dish it out as part of his job but also take it as well (regardless of whether it came from a Deion Sanders water bucket).
After Fox executive Eric Shanks said on a conference call that his admiration for McCarver came from “the DNA of Tim that is his toughness as a man and as a broadcaster and player,” Buck added:
“Eric was dead-right . . . to describe Tim as tough. What makes him great is he doesn’t let criticism bother him. He takes it and he moves on. He doesn’t mind the online stuff, which isn’t easy to do in this world. But he takes it, and moves on. If a player or manager doesn’t like something he said, he taught me more about handling all that stuff more than anyone. No one is even close. He’s a man’s man and he doesn’t bow to criticism in this day in age. He’s everything you’d want in a teammate – if ever there was something said about me (critically), you gotta hold him back.
“I’ve learned more from that attitude around players, managers, bloggers, online people, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.”
Former Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros, who has been working on Fox’s regional coverage since 2007 as well as on the Dodgers’ KCAL-Channel 9 studio show, should be a front-runner to replace McCarver starting in 2014 — unless a position opens on the Dodgers’ local telecasts starting with the new team-owned channel. That could happen if Vin Scully decided to retire after this year.
TBS’ Ron Darling and John Smoltz have also been mentioned as potential Fox hires as well in various media speculation.