Guest Column: Are We Doomed to a Lifetime with Buck and McCarver?

This week is quite crazy for me and this is the first time I have had to depend on you to help provide fresh content for the site and you’ve responded.

The columns will be posted from today through Sunday and I really appreciate those who have written some really good material this week. It’s greatly appreciated and I hope you enjoy the columns.

This comes from baseball author Paul Lebowitz who is concerned that we’re stuck with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on Fox for the long run.

If there’s any hope that Fox will one day get the message of the masses and change the number 1 (in name only) baseball announcing crew of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, it’s that ESPN finally listened to the complaints of those same masses and dumped Joe Morgan and Jon Miller from the Sunday night broadcast.

Morgan, in spite of his rampant contradictions and complete disregard for logic, has the credentials as a Hall of Fame player to fall back on. “I played and you didn’t” is not a meaningless statement. And when he adds “I’m a Hall of Famer and probably the best second baseman in the history of the game,” it’s even more pronounced.

Miller was a longtime respected broadcaster for the Orioles and Giants before plying his trade on ESPN with the overdone insistence of pronouncing Latin players’ names “correctly” with Bel-TRAN in reference to Carlos Beltran and Bel-TRAY for Adrian Beltre. He had also grown fond of ridiculously planned out metaphors that were as weak as they were poorly constructed.

They’re gone now. Clearly part of the decision was the open vitriol both received on social media.

Could Fox make a similar decision with Buck and McCarver?

For some unfathomable reason, Fox has cast its lot with Joe Buck. Not only is he their lead baseball announcer, but he’s their lead football announcer. For awhile he was also the host of the pregame show and the pregame studio crew would travel to the site of the marquee matchup to accommodate Buck’s hosting duties.

I’m sure Howie Long was thrilled about that. Eventually they stopped with that charade.

Yet Buck is still the top billing for football with Troy Aikman and for baseball with McCarver. Why?

He’s smarmy and obnoxious and I rarely if ever see people speak highly of his work in the booth. Fox can’t be blind to this. And that’s the point. Fox is owned by News Corp. Namely Rupert Murdoch. What that means is that content is disconnected from objectivity. Of course Murdoch puts his own agenda into the public consciousness with Fox News, Fox Business, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and his British tabloid empire still reeling from the phone hacking scandal. But he’s a businessman and liking or disliking his personalities is secondary to the amount of attention they receive. If Buck and McCarver are being savaged for their parachuting into the game of the week; doing shoddy research; being arrogant and ignorant; and angering the fanbases of each team, so what? If they’re being talked about, that’s all that counts.

In 2010 Buck signed a new 4-year contract to stay with Fox. In addition to keeping his job as the NFL and MLB frontman, he was planning a Fox reinvention of the atrocity of a variety show Joe Buck Live from HBO in which he was trying to expand from broadcasting to talk shows and skits.

The HBO incarnation didn’t work mostly because people plainly and simply don’t like Joe Buck. Thankfully the relaunch on Fox hasn’t come to pass yet.

McCarver is a different matter. The game has passed him by.

He was deservedly inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his work as a broadcaster. There was a time when he was the best analyst in the sport and right up there with John Madden as the best in sports period. He’d expanded to Olympic coverage, acting and his own talk show. In his 70s, he’s slightly out of touch repeating the same old themes over and over again. He makes authoritative statements such as the Mets aren’t going to be able to afford to re-sign David Wright as if he had no clue nor interest that the Bernie Madoff case was settled and the Mets are getting their financial house in order. Wright’s not set to be a free agent until after the 2013 season. How would McCarver know what the Mets are able or willing to do? Is he aware of Wright’s contract situation or is he trying to bluff his way through based on reputation?

It’s not a remote experience to be annoyed by people in the booth. Overall, how many broadcasters are providing anything other than team/network/selfish shtick? Not many. If Buck and McCarver are gone, we might end up with a worse duo or threesome.

There is that chance though; the chance that Fox will listen to what the people say as ESPN did and make a much-needed infusion of new blood. Perhaps it will be with broadcasters who add something to the broadcast instead of two names that are recognized for the wrong reasons.

Until then we’re stuck with Buck and McCarver.

Or the mute button. Whichever is more pleasing to your individual sensibilities.

Paul Lebowitz is the author of the novel Breaking Balls published in 2001 and Paul Lebowitz’s Baseball Guide published annually. The 2012 version is on sale now.

After blogging on multiple platforms, he began his own website PaulLebowitz.com in 2009. He lives in New York City.

Valid points by Paul although I have to admit Buck has grown on me over the last year. Maybe it’s me who’s slippping

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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