Tim McCarver was given the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting last summer at the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Heather Ainsworth / AP)

Tim McCarver, the Fox baseball analyst fans either love or love to hate, will step down from the network after this season.

McCarver, who has been partnered with Joe Buck on Fox’s broadcasts, said today on a conference call with reporters that he will not seek to extend his contract beyond the 2013 season.

“It’s time to cut back,” McCarver, 71, said. “I wanted to step down while I could still do the job. It’s not a tough call. It’s not a sad thing for me. … But I’m going to miss Joe Buck a lot.”

He told reporters that he plans to take cooking classes, travel, read books and learn more about wine. McCarver has worked baseball postseasons since 1984, including a record 23 World Series. He was a catcher for 21 seasons in the major leagues, hitting .271 with 97 home runs and 645 RBI.

“This is weird,” Buck said. “I was probably [on Fox] before I was ready [at 27], but got through it because of Tim. … He’s someone I treasure as a great teammate.”

Buck, the son of the late Jack Buck, paid McCarver a supreme compliment, saying,  “He’s every bit as important to me as my dad.”

McCarver, though, has become a polarizing figure for baseball fans. How do you feel about him?

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