Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus recently called out Tim McCarver, and it was about the smartest damn thing I've read in weeks. It's also short, so if you hate McCarver there's really no reason not to read it. In fact, I'm begging you...PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK IF YOU CAN'T STAND KNOW-IT-ALLS LIKE MCCARVER AND BILLY PACKER.
I wasn't watching Wednesday's Dodgers-Phillies game, but McCarver got on his high horse and blasted Manny Ramirez for "refusing to play" in his final Boston days, when evidence pointed to the contrary. Which is where Sheehan comes in. You see, anymore, broadcasters can't just run their mouths without fact-checking. This is a good thing.
This came out of McCarver's mouth Wednesday:
"Manny's doing things that even Manny doesn't do, [like] scoring on a double to right field from first base."
If you're Joe-Schmoe baseball fan sitting at home you probably think, Yeah, Manny never hustled like that in Boston. Except it's simply untrue. And Baseball Prospectus has the data to support it. In fact, it's not difficult to find on your own, although it can take a while.
Sheehan killed McCarver in the last couple hundred words of his piece:
"Of course, Tim McCarver doesn't care, and that's why this is important. See, come Thursday night, Tim McCarver is going to look into a camera and tell tens of millions of people what he thinks about Manny Ramirez. He's probably going to revisit this theme any number of times over the following couple of weeks, especially if the Dodgers reach the World Series. When he does, there isn't going to be a graphic showing Ramirez's stats during the timeframe when he was supposedly being such a detriment to his team. There won't be a cutaway to Joe Sheehan in the studio pointing out that Ramirez outplayed most of his teammates and carried two or three of their carcasses while not getting the three-day paid vacation they got. We won't hear Joe Buck come over the top of McCarver and point out that Ramirez played nearly every day in July.There's a reason I posted this, and I think you know where I'm going. I'm sick of writing this sentence, but I care more about broadcasting than I care about anything else. When I hear Billy Packer go nuts because he saw Player X travel, followed by video evidence of Player X not traveling, followed by Packer still claiming that Player X did indeed travel and his team got away with one, well, I lose it. How self-important do you have to be to tell the country something that is obviously wrong - or in McCarver's case, with no data to support a claim?
It will just be McCarver making fact-free assertions, and America listening. That's wrong.
It's time that this stops, and all I can do to make it stop is put facts out there and hope that they get to baseball fans, to television executives, and maybe, just maybe, to a TV booth in St. Petersburg. Facts matter. Data matters. Facts and data don't have agendas, don't like or dislike individuals, aren't invested in a particular storyline or protecting their friends and sources. Facts just sit there on the page and dare you to ignore them. There are links all over this article. Click them and verify the claims I make in this piece. That's what Baseball Prospectus is about: backing up your opinions with facts.
Manny Ramirez played in 90% of his team's games in July and hit like a beast, coming up huge in a critical division matchup late in the month to help the Red Sox avoid a sweep and sustain their place in the standings. Those are my...no, those are the facts.
What do you have, Tim?"
The problem, and Sheehan implied this, is that people are naive by nature. That list includes me - just not when it comes down to stuff like this. Anyway, McCarver will tell tens of millions people about Manny Ramirez quitting in Boston, and a good percentage of the viewers will swallow every ounce of crap McCarver throws out there. They just assume the guy on TV is right. Why else would he have the job, you know?
Quick story before hitting "Publish Post": When I went to broadcasting school, one of the first things I was told was that being on the air gives you instant credibility, even though you've done nothing to warrant it. I think I was the only one of my classmates who already knew this (I mean, how else could people convince themselves that Jeff Piecoro, Alan Cutler, Tim Lewis, etc., were actually knowledgeable and entertaining? It was simply because they were the guys on the radio, which means they must have earned their position...), and it enraged me, even though it had the potential to benefit me in the future. Anyway, think about that the next time you listen to your radio. I pick on Alan Cutler a lot, and I actually have a reason beyond "He's terrible at his job." He runs his mouth every day on topics he has no knowledge of, and his format is set up so that listeners will call in and ask him his expert advice. I ask you...what makes him an expert?
I'm glad Deion Sanders dumped champagne on Tim McCarver.
-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)