The Mets have caught their fair share of criticism from this paper in recent weeks. So we’ll refrain from slamming them too hard for a recent business decision, even though that decision will probably cause at least a few fans to tune into Yankee telecasts.
The Mets have given broadcaster Tim McCarver his walking papers after 16 years. Taking his place is Mets legend Tom Seaver.
It’s good to see Tom Terrific back in the Mets’ fold, although he certainly didn’t distinguish himself in a previous incarnation as a Yankee broadcaster. What’s unfortunate is McCarver’s departure. His contributions will be sorely missed. It’s too bad the Mets didn’t figure out a way to keep them both.
The Mets, of course, didn’t really want to retain McCarver, even though he’s easily the best baseball analyst in the business, maybe the best there’s ever been. McCarver’s sin was to be too candid. If the team made a mistake on the field, McCarver, a former catcher to the likes of Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton, made sure the fans knew about it. In our society’s increasingly dominant corporate culture, which so often shuns mavericks like McCarver, his kind of honesty is viewed as biting the hand that feeds you. It apparently didn’t matter that McCarver’s presence in the booth guaranteed the Mets the savviest fans in either league.
McCarver’s departure recalls the dismissal of the late, great Red Barber by the Yankees back in the mid-1960s. Like McCarver, Barber took his job seriously, refused to play the shill. The final straw for Barber was when he had the TV cameras pan cavernous Yankee Stadium during a late-season game. The Yankees were out of the pennant race and sliding into what would become a long stretch of mediocrity. There seemed to be as many peanut vendors in the stands as there were fans. Barber was gone in a heartbeat.
Ironically, it may be the Yankees who give McCarver his next contract. Perhaps George Steinbrenner is one to appreciate his kind of professionalism, the dedication with which he prepares for each game, the quality and quantity of the information he imparts. Mets fans, meanwhile, will have to settle for Seaver, a Hall of Fame pitcher who’s strictly Triple-A in the booth.
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