Buck and McCarver "Blow the Call"

It’s World Series time. What better time to bring out my inner “Bitter P1?”
(One of the many voices in my head…)

Today’s topic: How Joe Buck and Tim McCarver blew their “call” of Ron Kulpa’s blown call.

The original blown call involved Umpire Ron Kulpa blowing a call in Saturday night’s game. He missed Mike Napoli’s tag out of a runner at first base. That call Saturday night, could have been the thing that changed the whole tenor of that game. I say could, because I freely acknowledge upfront that there’s no way to prove that, and that thinking about that too much can give you tired head.

So, I don’t really want to talk about the call. I want to talk about is Joe Buck and Tim McCarver’s response. How they chose to cover the reaction to the blown call.

In the Top of the 5th of last night’s game, the whole FOX broadcast team jumped into this, and jumped over themselves to defend Umpire Kulpa against the “unfair” question of a reporter.

Apparently, after the blown call, a pool reporter had asked Umpire Ron Kulpa something like this:
“Did the fact that you are from St. Louis affect this call?”

Now, here’s the thing. I don’t think it did. Watching the video, it’s clear he just blew the call in the moment. (So, to clarify, it might not have changed the game, and I don’t think it was intentional).

But instead of admitting that it’s a fair question from a journalist, the whole FOX broadcast team took the umpire’s side. Ken Rosenthal called it unfair to question the umpire’s integrity. They showed footage of the “good” call that Kulpa made (calling Kinsler safe on a steal) the night before.

But, here’s the deal: It’s a totally fair question.

It’s an edgy question. But it’s a good one. That ump IS from St. Louis, and so are the Cardinals. He might not like the question. But it’s fair.

That’s what journalists do. They ask fair and edgy questions.

My response to the ump is this: This is the “biggest of the “Big Shows” Grow a thicker skin, stand there and be ready to answer for yourself, “Did it affect your judgment, or not?”

Just answer the question in the way we all expect: tell us it did not, and then let’s move on. End of story.

But instead of moving on, apparently, Joe Torre got huffy too. Torre now works for MLB, and he made a special point to go down the media room and chastise them for the question! I mean, a special trip, just to lambast the journalist for asking a journalist’s question!

Again, wrong response. He never should have addressed the media. It kept the whole thing alive, and made both MLB and the ump look defensive. Worst of all, made them look thin-skinned.

Now comes McCarver and Buck’s own blown call of this…

After Rosenthal had defended the ump, he threw it back up to the booth and Joe Buck actually said,

“Yeah, everybody’s from somewhere.”

Oh yeah, Joe? And where are YOU from?!

Right: St. Louis!!

Joe’s Dad, Jack, was the “Voice of the Cardinals” for decades. The Cards were Joe Buck’s team, growing up. How many hundreds of games do you imagine he saw at the old Busch Stadium? How many of the players do you imagine he knew on a first name basis?

When he grew up? He became a Cardinals broadcaster too.

And! Tim McCarver? Spent the best years of his playing career behind the plate…playing for St. Louis!

McCarver said this about the question:
“The implication by the reporter who asked that question is foolish.”

It doesn’t matter whether it’s “foolish” or not, Tim. It’s a good question. It’s the World Series. It’s a reporter, trying to cover all angles. That’s what reporters do. You’re supposedly part of a sports broadcast team too. Surely you know that.

Now, again, let me be clear: I don’t think Buck and McCarver are biased. I don’t think the ump was biased either.

But! I do think their reaction is telling. Instead of defending the reporter, they defend the ump who has the same quirk of fate they do: they all three connect to St. Louis.

Lest you think I’m the one personalizing this as a Rangers fan, please note that it was Joe Buck who brought up this angle. In his defense of the ump, he talked about the hard life he has, the accusations he faces:

“That, somehow, we’re from every city…and have rooted against every team we’ve covered.”

“We’ll show ’em,” chuckled McCarver.

“Right. We’ll get the last laugh on that one,” answers Buck.

We’ll show ’em? We’ll get the last laugh? Just what did they mean by that?!

Everybody is from somewhere, and all three of these guys connect to St. Louis. Instead of providing closure to this controversy, Buck and McCarver re-lit the fires.

Let me help everybody out here. First, as a part of his, ahem, Mia Kulpa (thank you. I’ll be here all week…) the Ump should have just answered the question and moved on. Second, Torre should have never addressed it. Period.

Finally, Buck and McCarver should have said something like this:

“We understand those kinds of questions. We get them too. They are tough questions. In the interest of full disclosure, ironically, we’re from St. Louis too. So, we understand the pressures of trying to remain impartial in these games. But we think this was just a plain and simply blown call, and both we and the Ron Kulpa take our jobs very seriously.”

End of story.

Instead, they laughed at the implication (Yes, they literally chuckled…), got indignant at the insinuation, and totally failed to disclose the fact that both of them have St. Louis ties.
Very unprofessional.

Is this a big deal?


Does it piss me off?


Especially that they were chuckling about it, while failing to note their own St. Louis ties.

Why defend the ump, guys?
Why defend MLB?
Why not just say, “It’s a fair, but uncomfortable question?”

Buck, McCarver, you blew the call too, and you’ve helped to keep this going.

(As always, if you like this post, then “like it”  or “share it” on Facebook by clicking the box below, or send it to your friends…so others can see too…and leave a comment…EF)  

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

One thought on “Buck and McCarver "Blow the Call"

  1. they also missed a bigger issue for baseball: this was the second call missed by an umpire that cost the rangers dearly. why not open a discussion of broadening instant replay in baseball? they don't even need to advocate expanding it– but bring up the discussion. it's not like the idea has not been shared elsewhere. they showed both plays dozens of times on replay– it's an easy thought to say, "how could this impact this game– and potentially the series– if the umps were allowed to check out plays like these in replay? wouldn't it make the umpire's job easier?" if you're going to deviate from the actual play by play, talk about something with ramifications for the sport.

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