One of the faces of our Mount Rushmore is planning his exit from the broadcast booth. Fox's Tim McCarver announced he will retire at the end of the 2013 MLB season. He's called every World Series on Fox since the network won World Series rights in 1996 and will have worked a total of 23 in his announcing career when he steps away later this year. The former Cardinals catcher has the unique distinction of calling games for all four major networks over the course of his career in the booth.
It's no secret McCarver's work has not been as strong in recent years as it once was. His work in the Fox booth has been littered with enough puzzling remarks and gaffes to fill an hour long special. (Barry Manilow?!?!) However, as McCarver announces his retirement, we can be serious for a moment and recognize the impact he's had on the broadcast industry. Now's not the time to start breaking out the champagne bottles and celebrate ala Deion Sanders. (Although I have no doubts most of our readership is doing just that.) Joe Buck even said today he's been as important to his broadcast career as his own father. McCarver has been the voice of baseball analysis on American television for more than two decades and there's no questioning he has meant a lot to the profession. It's just that in the last few years, his work has not transferred well to a younger audience and the social media generation. (See his own comments on social networking for example.)
Now our attention turns to who Fox may tab as a replacement for the 2014 season with a paper-thin bench currently working for the network. There's no clear cut next in line for McCarver's job seeing as how he's been the only lead analyst MLB on Fox has known. Right now the only in-house option appears to be studio analyst Eric Karros. Would Fox consider poaching someone like John Smoltz or one of ESPN's stable? Could they search through local broadcast teams? Is there a newly-retired former player who could step in to the number one analyst job in the sport?
Time will tell where Fox goes next, but for now, let's focus on enjoying one more year of McCarverisms before the end of an era.