Angelo Cataldi: Tom McCarthy is the Phillies’ MVP this season

Chase Utley, who is by far the Phillies' best hitter this season, deserves a better fate than the last place Phillies are giving him. Credit: Getty Images Chase Utley, who is by far the Phillies’ best hitter this season, deserves a better fate than the last place Phillies are giving him. Credit: Getty Images

Tom McCarthy made the best play of the season for the Phillies last Friday night. Unfortunately, he is the play-by-play TV broadcaster, and the ball he caught was a three-run homer by Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. Hey, you can’t have everything these days if you’re a Phils fan.

McCarthy was in a special center-field booth with his two rookie partners, Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs, when Freeman launched a towering blast in his direction. McCarthy calmly reached out with his glove and plucked the ball right out of the air. At the urging of his booth-mates, he then threw it back onto the field.

The video has gone viral because no one can remember a big-league broadcaster ever announcing a home-run ball he actually caught. Then again, no one can recall a veteran announcer like McCarthy having to mentor two inexperienced and deeply flawed analysts the way he has done with Moyer and Stairs.

Tom McCarthy is not as popular as he deserves to be in Philadelphia. Now in his seventh season as the TV play-by-player, his biggest problem is timing. He is following a legend so big, Harry Kalas dwarfs not just his fellow talkers but all of the players he talked about during his extraordinary 38-year career here.

There is only one Harry Kalas, but McCarthy has emerged this season as a special voice in his own right while trying to keep people awake as Moyer drones on or Stairs mumbles. McCarthy does his job with a joy that is refreshing in a season lacking any positive emotion.

Long before his memorable catch, Tom McCarthy was the Phillies MVP this season.

Idle thoughts

  • Ryan Howard is one of those players whose numbers look better than his actual performance. He is on pace for 30 homers and 100 RBIs, but also for 200 strikeouts. He is a hideous first baseman. The Phillies will owe him – ready for this? — $60-million after this season. Gulp.
  • Jimmy Rollins said last week that the Phillies should have been in four World Series and won three during their great run. Agreed. So whom do we blame for this failure? Rollins for not running hard? Charlie Manuel for managing poorly? Who’s responsible?
  • Bravo to the fans who booed commissioner Gary Bettman relentlessly at the NHL draft at the Wells Fargo Center last weekend. (Bettman is an ogre here for presiding over three absurd lockouts.) Of course, the chances of Philadelphia getting another big NHL event anytime soon are gone. But it was worth it.
  • Now we can add Jason Avant to the list of Eagles players who lost his job by getting on coach Chip Kelly’s nerves last season. The wide receiver revealed last week that he “butted heads” with Kelly several times. There’s a clear lesson here for players. Listen to Chip Kelly – and keep your mouth shut.
  • Fox Sports has ranked Eagles fans 30th out of 32 teams in likeability. Hmmm. I’m tempted to reply with some nasty words, but I’d hate to see us drop to 32nd.

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