June 19, 2010

The Mind Of McCarver

There was a time when Tim McCarver was the best baseball analyst in the world. He was doing Mets games in the late 80s and he was absolutely brilliant. You tuned in happily, and with the certainty that you would be a smarter fan when the game was over.

Some younger fans no doubt think the previous paragraph is some kind of joke, since McCarver is little more than a punch line at this point, growing weirder and more incoherent as the years go by.

In the sixth inning, David Ortiz took a strike on a semi-eephus pitch from Vicente Padilla and as Fox showed a replay:
Joe Buck: Ortiz trying not to smile after this lollipop dropped in for strike one.

Tim McCarver: Reminded me of that song, "Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli-lolli-pop..." That was ... the late '50s.

Buck: Here's a 2-1 pitch, grounded foul outside of first.

McCarver: Don't ask me the group who sang it*, but ...

[long pause]

Buck: Two balls and two strikes ...
* McCarver had the time period right. The song was recorded in 1958 by the Chordettes and hit #2 on the US charts. McCarver made his major league debut the following year.

Back in the second inning, Bill Hall lined a hit into the left field corner and Victor Martinez stopped at second. McCarver praised the Dodgers left fielder:
Garret Anderson has more experience playing the Monster and the Wall -- any wall at Fenway Park -- than any outfielder for the Red Sox or the Dodgers. And Garret played that ball perfectly ...
Anderson played for the Angels for 15 years -- though his B-Ref page looks like he changed teams from CAL to ANA to LAA during that time -- so he is no stranger to the Wall (or the Monster, for that matter). In his career, which includes the 2009 Atlantas and 2010 Dodgers, Anderson has now played 54 regular season games in Fenway's left field.

Anderson's teammate (and former Blue Jay) Reed Johnson has played 15 games in left at Fenway, Jeremy Hermida has played 22 games, and Jacoby Ellsbury (though not currently on the roster) has played 39 games in front of the Wall. [I watched the game on mute and when I first read the quote, "any wall" was not in it, so I focused only on left field.]

McCarver's statement is true if you go solely by who was in the game when he said it. Anderson does have more experience playing the Wall than Bill Hall, Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald, Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier. In fact, he has more games out there than all five of them combined.

But it is beyond strange that McCarver -- on this weekend of all weekends -- would not mention Los Angeles' designated hitter, a guy who has played 38 games in left this season, and is not out there for this series simply because the games are being played by American League rules. Manny Ramirez -- who was perhaps flying too far under the radar this weekend for McCarver to notice -- played 432 games in Fenway's left field over more than seven seasons.


johngoldfine said...

Forgetting or ignoring Manny is sort of a stealth variation of MUMS, eh?

johngoldfine said...

Love him or hate him, it's hard to believe that anyone could ever forget or ignore Manny, so maybe that's the best sign of McCarver's mental deterioration.

That, and remembering 'Lollipop.'

laura k said...

I guess McCarver is the new Rizzuto.

I hadn't seen McCarver in years - I'm at work for Fox games, and I listen to WEEI on MLB Audio - then saw him on an ad recently. I was pleased to see they've let his hair go gray instead of the bright-red it was for many years. It was so ridiculously fake looking - the colour equivalent of a comb-over. Which always makes me ask, Who do they think they're fooling?

Amy said...

Well, I guess I could give McCarver some slack on that. After all, Manny was not playing left field during this series so technically he was not an outfielder on the Dodgers for this series.

But yeah, still, sort of ridiculous for a guy who is supposed to be a professional sportscaster.

I am still more pissed off about the fact that they (not sure which announcer it was) described Manny's HR yesterday as "the most satisfying" of his career. Somehow I have to believe Manny is not that small a person and also that at least one of the MANY HRs he hit for the Sox in the post-season was much more satisfying. This one didn't even make a difference in the outcome of the game.

allan said...

It was McCarver. Something like:

"We'll never know the answer to this, but you have to ask yourself the question: was that the most satisfying home run he ever hit? Maybe..."

Amy said...

OK, NOW I have reason to think McCarver is incompetent!

allan said...

And tonight, you get the dulcet tones of Jon Miller. Yay!!!

Looking at his Wiki page: "During a rain delay at Baltimore, Miller performed a 30 minute impression of Vin Scully talking about the "zen of Baseball," a tape that still travels around the Internet. During one makeup game at Memorial Stadium, Miller struck up a conversation on the air with a fan in the stands wearing a portable radio to liven up a slow game."

When I get to work, I'll have to poke around for that Scully recording. I always mean to go back and listen to O'Brien doing Sterling, but I never have. L says it is always only a phrase or two, not a whole AB or anything.

There are a few sites that have collected some of McCarver's best lines, but they have not been updated in many years. If I could stomach listening to him, I'd try to make a list of his tortured comparisons: "You know that Sinatra song X Y, well, Pedroia is trying to Y some X".

Amy said...

Oh, no, Jon Miller. Sounds like a good reason to be out this evening! I am not sure what it is about his voice that penetrates the usual fog I can generate to keep out the announcers. And I do not know what it is about what he says that makes me so crazy. It's like fingernails scraping on the blackboard (for those of us who still remember chalk and blackboards).

Patrick said...

Did Manny do this after the home run?

Kathryn said...

I remember that "most satisfying" question. I looked at my son (as we were listening on headphones) and we both had that WTH is he talking about look.

OT: Did anybody see the Marlins screw-up last night? Bottom of 9th, tie game and they bat out of order. I think the batter who had gotten to first was then called out. Lost in extra innings after FKR scored 4 in the top of the 11th, Marlins score 3 in the bottom. They handed out pseudo-vuvuzelas to all the fans. There are questions if all that racket caused the batting order mistake. I'm sure not, but come on. I wouldn't go back to a Marlins game if I were subjected to that constant noise.

mattymatty said...

This one seems to be Miller being interviewed about his impression of Scully, a Japanese announcer, and a Venezuelan announcer.


andy said...

Perhaps and I took it this way, McCarver was highlighting the obvious situation where Manny was not playing in his usual home in left field in Fenway. He was once good and maybe he has flashes of brilliance from time to time. They are buried in his mental fog but I think that was a great line.

allan said...

One of Tim's gems:

"Mt. Everest erupts again!" after Flo went deep in the 2004 ALCS (Game 5?)

I have no recollection of that.

allan said...

If he was highlighting something about Manny, why did he never mention him and instead pour praise all over Mrs. Garret? I think the only reason he said it was because Anderson made a quick throw in and Victor could only advance from first to second.

Buck often just waits a beat or two after these things, then goes back to calling the game, acting like he's sitting beside some pudding-brained guy who blurts out weird shit from time to time, but you gotta simply ignore it and go about your business.

andy said...

Don't get me wrong when I watch his games I am often yelling at him. He is interesting. Insane. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

How about two weeks ago, when he was going on and on about being surprised at the Phillies bunting with the pitcher's spot coming up... in FENWAY PARK.