Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why aren't catchers like this anymore?

Today I caught the last ten minutes of the Tim McCarver Show. Tim's guests were Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola.

Talk about a tradition of great catching all in one room. Yogi, of course, is one of the finest catchers to ever put on a uniform. Garagiola made a name for himself by playing out of his mind for the Cardinals as a rookie in the 1946 World Series. And McCarver was a two-time All-Star who played big-league ball for 21 years, an amazing feat for a catcher.

All three are just as well known for what they did after their baseball careers. Berra was a successful manager and coach with the Yankees and Mets, and perhaps the most highly regarded funny man in baseball history. Garagiola developed a following as a broadcaster and even made it into the Hall of Fame for that. McCarver too became a broadcaster, and although many people have a love-hate relationship with the man, there's no denying that he's become the Voice of the Playoffs over the past few decades.

What happened to all the good, witty catchers in Major League Baseball? Now all we have is guys like Joe Mauer, who is an amazing catcher, maybe one of the best ever, but seems to be completely free of any personality. And, we have guys like A.J. Pierzynski, who is quite possibly the biggest asshole in baseball since Ty Cobb.

I don't want to see either one of those guys becoming broadcasters.

And, for that matter, who will be the next generation of players who become managers? In the past it's always been catchers. (Current catchers-turned-managers include Joe Torre, Joe Girardi, A.J. Hinch and Mike Scoscia, to name a few.)

Maybe it's gonna be pitchers. They seem to be the heirs to the baseball personality throne. I could see Brian Bannister becoming a manager.

And, on that same note, who will be baseball's next player-manager? I think it's time for another one. How about this scenario: in a couple years, when the Yankees drive Joe Girardi out of town, they name Derek Jeter player-manager.

Hey, stranger things have happened.

-- Matt Kelsey

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