The end of the World Series is traditionally accepted as the beginning of winter (aka The Season of Doom™) here at The Home Office. If not for hockey, I think I might just pull the covers up over my head and wait for spring. But, just to show even I have an optimistic side, here’s the good news that comes from the end of baseball season:
No Tim McCarver until next year.
For me, that means almost a literal year, as I avoid Fox games in season, in part because they start at 4:00 Eastern on Saturdays, but mostly to avoid him. Here are a few of his standout comments from the year’s World Series:
California became a state in 1850, just one year after the 49ers discovered gold there in 1849. (not just a master of the obvious, unnecessary comment, but a mathematician.)
What a headline: a home run and a flare. (After Edgar Renteria hit a home run to give the Giants the lead in Game 2, with a cross reference to his Series-winning single in 1997. I get the reference, and I still don’t know why he said this.)
Last night he was in rare form, criticizing Rangers’ manager Ron Washington for pitching to Renteria with two out and runners on second and third in the seventh inning of a scoreless tie. With first base open, McCarver wanted Renteria walked, even though he’d hit only 3 home runs in 243 at bats and Cliff Lee was pitching. McCarver—and too many others in baseball—want to walk everybody holding a bat. It started with Jack Clark in the 80s and reached its peak with Barry Bonds, where some managers would walk him in the first inning with men on and first base open. The best hitters make outs 70% of the time, and the greatest sluggers hit home runs less than 10% of their at bats. Cliff Lee is a legitimately great pitcher who was on his game last night. The worst part is, Renteria went deep, so we had to listen to McCarver and his smug little sidekick Joe Buck go on about how smart he is for the rest of the game.
Bottom of the seventh, Ian Kinsler up, 3-1 count. “He has to take here,” McCarver said. “Make Lincecum throw two strikes.” Sure enough, Kinsler was taking all the way and Lincecum walked him on the 3-2 pitch. I still think it’s a bad move. Down two runs (Nelson Cruz had homered to cut the Giants’ lead to 3-1), sit on a pitch you can hammer. The way Lincecum is throwing, getting a runner home from first is not a foregone conclusion, and Kinsler was, in fact, stranded.
After going on about how Kinsler had to take, McCarver had no issue with David Murphy swinging at a 2-0 pitch in the next at bat. Murphy was completely overmatched all night, swinging at pitched he couldn’t have hit with a bed slat, yet Kinsler should take and Murphy can swing. He swung at ball three and eventually struck out, stranding Kinsler.
A bonus from last night, after a brief video reminder of the Giants’ last World Series victory, in 1954: “That was 1954. Now they’re in San Francisco.”
As I’ve said before and will say again, Tim McCarver is living proof there is no just and merciful God.
Another good thing about the end of the Series is, we don’t have to listen to the Rangers’ organist playing that four-note “Let’s Go, Rangers” chant any more. You usually want to whip up the crowd when your team is at bat, but this was played with maddening frequency when the Giants were hitting. Even if you can’t trust your fans to sit for a single pitch without some intervention on your part, mix it up a little. I prefer the organ to that stupid “Everybody clap your hands” or “Day-O,” but show some variety.
I knew the Rangers were beat when Cruz hit his home run that might have given them life. He trotted around the bases like it was June, and no one came out of the dugout, just slapped hands as he came in. I expected to see him tear-assing around to fire up his boys, who had come onto the field to thank him for starting their potentially game-winning rally. Lincecum had them beat and they knew it, as was shown a few minutes later when Benji Molina pulled up a step short of the wall and let an easily catchable pop-up fall unattended. It didn’t hurt them—Feliz still struck the guy out—but it spoke volumes.
Congratulations to the Giants. They had the best pitching I’ve seen in a Series for years, and enough offense and defense to make it stand up. Depending too much on pitching is always risky—pitchers get hurt—but if this group can stay healthy—and theGiants can afford them—they should contend for several years.