It doesn’t happen very often, but Tim McCarver actually said something interesting during the Yankees-Rays game on Saturday. Too bad it wasn’t interesting in a good way. Here’s what he said, transcribed by Lisa Swan over at Subway Squawkers (Note: NY Stadium Insider had it first, with video):
You remember some of those despotic leaders in World War II, primarily
in Russia and Germany, where they used to take those pictures that they
had … taken of former generals who were no longer alive, they had shot
’em. They would airbrush the pictures, and airbrushed the generals out
of the pictures. In a sense, that’s what the Yankees have done with Joe
Torre. They have airbrushed his legacy. I mean, there’s no sign of Joe
Torre at the stadium. And, that’s ridiculous. I don’t understand it.
Not surprisingly, this has created a great deal of ire across the Internets since Saturday. And I understand why. What he said was really, really stupid. Only I don’t think the Nazi/Communist comparison — in and of itself — is what makes the comments stupid.
Obviously anyone should tread lightly when playing the Nazi/Soviet card because it’s not too often that you’re going to be making a fair comparison in terms of moral equivalence. I mean really, no matter who your subject is, odds are pretty good that he or she wasn’t responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people.
But McCarver is obviously not making a moral equivalence here. He’s simply saying that he thinks the Yankees are playing propaganda games like Hitler and Stalin did. As I explain below it’s a dumb point, but if you’re trying to make a propaganda analogy — especially when talking about airbrushing figures out of photos in an effort to alter history — Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia really are the go-to references. Heavy-handed, sure, but I don’t think McCarver is treading in taboo territory here.
But his comments were stupid. Why? Because as several people have pointed out, he’s simply wrong. There are pictures of Torre on championship banners on field level at the ballpark. There are photos of him in pictures of celebrations of championships in some of the luxury boxes and elsewhere. As such, McCarver saying that Torre has been removed from Yankees history is just false.
And really, what would McCarver have the Yankees do regarding Torre’s legacy at this point? He’s an active manager working for a historic rival. When he left town, he wrote a book about the Yankees that pissed just about everyone off. Would McCarver expect the Yankees to have a statue of Joe Torre up at the main gate? Should there be a giant banner with his likeness hanging next to the Hess ad on the scoreboard? Call me in 25 years if the Yankees haven’t honored Torre somehow, but I think it’s a little premature for the team to be building monuments to the man, especially given the recent bad blood.
Oh, and one final note. If McCarver is going to accuse the Yankees of not treating Torre’s legacy fairly, perhaps he should disclose to viewers who were not otherwise aware that he is Torre’s close friend and former teammate and may very well be letting his personal feelings color his perception of how the guy is being treated by the Yankees.
The upshot of all of this: I’m not going to burn McCarver at the stake for saying what he said, because his comments weren’t outrageous in the way a lot of people are saying. They were just wrong in the fairly normal and conventional way in which we’ve come to expect Tim McCarver to be wrong about things over the years.