Do Joe Buck and Tim McCarver Hate the Yankees?

Many hear bias in the World Series broadcasting team

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009  |  Updated 1:32 PM EDT
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We're going to be spending a lot of time with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver over the next eight days, and there will surely be some point where one or the other will say something that produces the following response: "I can't believe that FOX would hire a broadcaster who so clearly hates the Yankees." 

It's pointless to argue with someone who hears such bias because it doesn't come from a rational place. They hear more excitement in the voices when an opponent's hit drops in than when a Yankee bouncer finds a hole. They hear a bad call that benefits the Yankees described as being a pro-Yankee move instead of as a criticism of an umpire. It is worth examining whether or not such bias even exists in the first place.

The easy answer is that it doesn't. Buck and McCarver aren't announcers for the Yankees, don't have the intimate knowledge of them that comes from seeing them every night over a long season and are just as apt to criticize them as they are their opponents. And you can be sure that when they do, a Phillies fan will be making the same exact lament. Local announcers are more likely to frame things to the home team and are less apt to criticize the guys who pay their bills. National broadcasters have no such allegiances, which can be jarring. 

It's easier to understand the claims made toward McCarver than Buck. Buck doesn't seem to like any team in particular, except perhaps his hometown Cardinals who provided the stage for his father to become a legend. More often than not, he seems to dislike just about everything about his job which he tends to approach with a smug (or professional, depending on your point of view) detachment that is antithetical to the way diehard fans feel about their favorite teams and sports. A good example is his flat call of David Tyree's unbelievable catch in the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl. 

McCarver, on the other hand, worked for the Yankees for three years before the team went in the Michael Kay direction, so there would appear to be an argument that could be made that he harbors some ill will toward the people that sent him packing. The bigger problem, though, is that he has a habit of struggling with the rules of the game and his own memory. That was noticable when he pilloried the safe call on an apparent double play in the second game of the ALCS when he berated umpires for ruling against Erick Aybar even though he'd clearly never touched the base when he had on all prior double plays.

That makes him a bad announcer, but not a biased one. He's actually had a stronger postseason than in years past because he's been talking a lot less, something that's also true of Buck. TV announcers don't need to set the scene the same way that radio announcers do, but Buck and McCarver would often fill every inch of space with their voices. They've stopped doing that, which has made for better broadcasts this season.

That said, they could still be better. One suggestion would be flanking a play-by-play guy with a color commentator who works for each team during the regular season. It would increase the knowledge of the teams and the personalities while balancing out any claims of bias between the two sides.

As it stands now, though, the perception of bias seems to come much more from the viewer. Announcers aren't seeing things through their eyes and aren't telling them what they want to hear. Disagreeing with someone else's take isn't enough to say that they have an agenda opposite to yours or any agenda whatsoever.  

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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