Tim McCarver’s Final Year at Fox? Contract Talks Are Ongoing. If Fox Moves on, Who Replaces McCarver? [UPDATE]

Tim McCarver, the longtime Fox baseball analyst, is one of the most divisive TV voices in sports. Fans either enjoy his witty banter with Joe Buck, or absolutely can’t stand him and wish Fox would replace him.

Fans who don’t like McCarver may soon get their wish. McCarver 71, is entering the final year of his contract at Fox Sports. He’s been calling the World Series with Buck on Fox since 1996 (except for 1997 and 1999, when NBC had it), and sources say the two sides haven’t made much progress about a contract extension. If a deal is struck, it’ll likely happen in the next few weeks.

[UPDATE: Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell tells me: We fully expect Tim to continue with us.]

The decision Fox faces: Keep the duo together (Buck has said nothing but great things about McCarver), or go in a new direction. There’s the “if-it-isn’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” crowd who says they have chemistry … and everyone else who is ready for Buck to have a new partner (or two).

McCarver, who turns 72 in October, will never live down the very public 1992 Deion Sanders incident.

In recent years, calling Manny Ramirez “despicable” during the NLCS and comparing Joe Torre to Nazi Germany and Stalinst Russia (he apologized, sort of), have had critics (including hockey’s Don Cherry!) clamoring that he be replaced. And don’t forget this:

According to industry insiders, four names are likely to top Fox’s list as a potential replacements for McCarver:

Bob Brenly – Veteran catcher/manager has won a World Series (2001) and had a nice run in the booth. Has called postseason games since 2007. Left the Cubs (WGN) for the Diamondbacks in October.
John Smoltz – Atlanta Braves pitching legend has taken quickly to the booth since making his debut in 2008.
Ron Darling – Sharp, polished Mets analyst has been calling postseason games on TBS since 2007.
Terry Francona – Only problem – He’s the new Indians coach manager. But he was universally praised for his work in the 2011 postseason. Fox – like ESPN – loves him.

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