Not to overanalyze, but McCarver is definitely a master of the obvious

ON MEDIA

October 15, 2004|By RAY FRAGER

FOX BASEBALL announcer Tim McCarver supposedly sucks the air out of every game he works, overanalyzing, belaboring the obvious, never letting the drama build.

To hear his critics tell it, you could have flipped between Wednesday's presidential debate and Game 2 of the American League Championship Series and heard McCarver wonking it up more than John Kerry ever does.

But let's be fair. Sort of. Below are some things McCarver actually did say during Game 2 between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, along with a few we invented. To paraphrase a certain news organization: We make it up, you decide.

1. "It's a better running situation with a left-hander up [batting]. With a left-hander, [the catcher] can't see the runner."

2. "When Hideki Matsui played in Japan, he probably never heard a `Who's Your Daddy?' chant from the stands."

3. "The changeup is choked up [on the pitcher's hand]. The fastball is on the tips of his fingers. It may sound simplistic, but if you hold the ball on the tips ... you can throw it harder."

4. "Yankee Stadium is in the Bronx, one of New York's five boroughs."

5. "From start to start, pitchers can be different. ... Sometimes your pitch count can be 95, sometimes 120."

6. "When I did the Winter Olympics for CBS, Paula Zahn and I used to bolt from the studio to go make snow angels."

7. "Sometimes a batter's stance dictates how you pitch him."

8. "I think Johnny Damon's hair and beard give him a Jim Morrison look, but Morrison's whole Lizard King persona detracted from the true artistry the Doors brought to rock 'n' roll."

9. "Left field in Yankee Stadium is more spacious than left fields in most parks."

10. "Watch John Olerud after his home run. He'll touch first base, then second, then third and then home. I guess that's why it's called touching them all."

11. "Trading an out for a run when you have a 3-0 lead, you can do that."

12. "There's Matt Damon cheering on his Red Sox. Our viewers may not realize it, but he had a cameo role in Jersey Girl, a sweet story that marked a departure from the usual raucous, irreverent fare of director Kevin Smith."

13. "It's vital to get [Boston's Mark] Bellhorn out because of who's coming up next, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz."

OK, class, pencils down. You guessed it, right? All of the even-numbered quotes were made up.

But seriously ...

Actually, one of the more notable aspects of Fox's ALCS Game 2 was how McCarver did lay back. Obvious commentary aside, he left plenty of room for guest analyst Al Leiter to offer his insights about pitching. And I have long been a fan of play-by-play man Joe Buck, even before he started doing those funny beer commercials with the spoiled athlete character "Leon." ...

Fox's "Diamond Cam," which shows the action from ground level up, may give us a unique perspective on the game, but somehow it makes me feel like I'm watching that old TV series Land of the Giants. ...

Did anyone think that Star Wars-themed opening before Fox's Game 1 of the ALCS felt overdone? If you agree, then the synergy train just left the station without you. The distributor for the Star Wars DVD is another Fox company.

We're all crazy

Comcast SportsNet will telecast Maryland's Midnight Madness basketball event, starting at 11:30 tonight. ... NASCAR announcer Allen Bestwick returns for NBC's Saturday coverage (7 p.m.) of the Nextel Cup from Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. Bestwick missed two races while recovering from a broken leg suffered playing hockey. ... TNT carries a Busch Series race tonight at 8 that is called - honestly - The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300.

Contact Ray Frager at ray.frager@baltsun.com.

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for Oct. 6-12 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program Day Ch. Rtg.

Ravens-'Skins 10/10 13* 28.7

Rams-Sea. 10/10 45 9.6

ALCS 10/12 45 9.4

Titans-Pckrs 10/11 2 8.2

Browns-Stlers 10/10 13 7.9

Giants-Cwbys 10/10 45 6.7

UM-Ga. Tech 10/9 2 6.5

Yanks-Twins 10/6 ESPN 6.3

Yanks-Twins 10/9 45 5.4

Astros-Braves 10/11 45 4.4

*-Rating is combined total for Channel 13 and ESPN. Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV.

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