Tim McCarver, Tony Kubek and human fallibility


Tim McCarver/Wikipedia
Tim McCarver/Wikipedia

Former Major League Baseball player and long-time commentator Tim McCarver announced last March that he will retire after this year’s World Series, which is his 24th in the broadcast booth. McCarver is one of those public figures who are either loved or reviled, there is no middle ground.

I must admit I really don’t have a whole lot of experience listening to McCarver so I won’t venture an outright opinion on his vast body of work. But I did notice during game two or three of this current World Series that McCarver seems to be a graduate of the Tony Kubek School of Color Commentary. Red Sox second-baseman Dustin Pedroia made a terrific catch diving to his right to snag a screaming line-drive. It was a classic example of the combination of superb athletic ability and highly honed reflexes. McCarver said that this was an example of Pedroia being the most creative player in the game. Huh? He may well be creative, but this play was pure reaction, nothing creative about it.

What does this have to do with Tony Kubek? Let me explain. When I was growing up, before the era of umpteen sports specialty channels, we saw baseball on NBC’s Game of the Week. That’s right, one game a week on Saturday afternoons with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek. Gowdy was the professional announcer and Kubek was the former player now commentator.

Baseball is a wonderful game for many reasons, not the least of which is its scoring system that takes into consideration human fallibility with the concept of the error.

Baseball is a wonderful game for many reasons, not the least of which is its scoring system that takes into consideration human fallibility with the concept of the error. If an infielder bobbles a routine ground ball and the batter makes it safely to first base he can stay there, but he isn’t credited with a hit, nor an RBI if a run scored, nor does the pitcher have a hit counted against him. It’s an error by the infielder. In hockey if a goaltender makes an “error” and misjudges a puck coming off the boards that ends up in his net, it’s a goal plain and simple, no one tells the shooter that the goal will count on the scoreboard, but because the goalie made a silly mistake, you won’t be credited with a goal in your personal statistics.

Tony Kubek didn’t seem to like this idea that humans, including major league baseball players, make mistakes because he always had an explanation for blown fielding opportunities. If a shortstop erred on a ground ball in September Tony would no doubt point out that the player had suffered a hangnail during spring training a couple of years ago that seemed to be bothering him on that play. C’mon Tony, he’s a human, he makes mistakes.

Love him or not, here’s wishing Tim McCarver a long and healthy retirement.

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that. a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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