For the past 18 years, two voices have become synonymous with playoff baseball — the ubiquitous Joe Buck and the often mesmerizing Tim McCarver. Much to the delight of several baseball fans out there, McCarver retired with quite a bit of fanfare last season. This left the talking heads at FOX pontificating about McCarver’s replacement.
Who will be used to fill air time with some historic lesson about baseball’s yesteryear (which this fan didn’t mind so much, except when Joe and Tim began homering out about the St. Louis Cardinals’ good ol’ days)? Who will give detailed analysis about the play with that first-hand knowledge (which many believe left the booth in the early oughts)?
Then, the epiphany hit the MLB front office: Tim McCarver will be replaced by not one, but two people. Enter a former second baseman, Harold Reynolds, and a brilliant 30-year baseball writer for Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci.
And I dig it, as should you.
“We didn’t take this decision lightly,” John Entz, the executive producer of Fox Sports, said Monday in a conference call with reporters. “When you have someone taking the mantle from Tim McCarver, we felt an extreme level of pressure.”
Entz said he felt strongly enough about Reynolds and Verducci’s potential that he brought them to St. Louis last summer to rehearse a game with Buck, off the air, at Busch Stadium.
“Within five minutes, I knew this would be the combination, if my opinion had anything to do with it,” Buck said.
Of course, when the dulcet tones of Mr. Buck bless something, you actually learn what does the FOX say. (Dang, did I really just do that?) In another article from the MLB Network, Entz had a nice quote that should help this decision in the hearts of many baseball enthusiasts.
“Replacing an icon is never easy, and there is no doubt Tim McCarver revolutionized televised baseball analysis,” said John Entz, executive vice president of production at FOX Sports. “We’re convinced that in teaming Joe with Harold and Tom, we’ve built a crew with an all new dynamic that is as fresh, informative, opinionated and very entertaining. Each is extremely talented and brings a unique voice and role, and we look forward seeing this team’s chemistry develop throughout the season.”
Say what you will about McCarver, the man was great for the game. His passion for what he was calling was undeniable. It wasn’t a gig to him — it was fervor, and that made the game enjoyable. Whether or not you thought he stayed in the booth a decade too long is subjective. The objective aspect is what Reynolds and Verducci bring to the booth — youth, insight and that passion thing.
Both Reynolds and Verducci love the game, love to call the game and will do a great job. Personally, I’m looking forward to some new perspective in the booth. You know, one that doesn’t hail from the friendly confines of Busch Stadium.
The new troika will debut April 5 for the second game in the Giants-Dodgers series in Los Angeles on the new FOX Sports 1 network.