With rumors that Joe Buck is getting a divorce because his wife found out he’s gay (with Fernando Tatis), I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at Joe Buck’s MLB legacy. Please note: I am a die-hard baseball fan, so can’t comment on his football announcing. In 1996, I was a die-hard Yankees AND Mets fan, and knew Tim McCarver like a (bad) family member.
FOX Sports took over MLB in one of the most important moves in baseball history. I was excited and scared. After all, FOX had a…reputation of shaking society up with The Simpsons, Married with Children, In Living Color, COPS, America’s Most Wanted, and many other controversial programs. Ironically, baseball’s status as national pastime and its influence in all 50 states started to take a serious NOSEDIVE when FOX took over. I’m basing this on post-season and All-Star ratings (which generally tank every year) and the growing popularity of football.
Let me explain: yes, baseball makes more money than it ever did, and is therefore successful, but I am speaking in terms of owning a virtual monopoly on our public consciousness or being important in non-baseball cities is a thing of the past. How much is Joe Buck and FOX’s coverage responsible for that? I don’t know. Just sayin’.
FOX immediately wanted to be DIFFERENT than the straight laced national broadcasts of previous networks: NBC, ABC, and CBS. They pretty much followed ESPN lead in cable and added some extra gimmicks (microphone, graphics, SUPER ZOOM CLOSE-UPS of a player’s face, dugout shots of someone whom Tim and Joe are blaming, etc.). With flashy graphics and SNARK, FOX made its mark pretty quick.
However, the fact that FOX chose the controversial team of McCarver and Buck (who still team up in 2011) may have doomed baseball as being seen as an exciting sport. For example, before FOX took over, post-season baseball was able to be exciting on its own- without any hype. The World Series’s of the 1980′s and early 1990′s were marvelous and needed no marketing because the games were great, no matter how small the market was (Twins, Blue Jays, Braves, 1995 Indians, Pirates, etc.)
When FOX took over it seemed like every weekend game, All-Star game, and post-season game had to be hyped and you could tell Joe Buck was disappointed if a game couldn’t hold the ratings. As much as FOX would bash the way the Yankees were run, FOX execs WANTED them to play the role of the heel in his hype machine. 1996 ironically was the only year in which the Yankees were seen as an underdog. Every other year, they were the bad guys (except 1999 because of deaths in the family of Yankees players).
My initial reactions to Joe Buck:
- Jeez, I wonder how he got this job. (He’s a second generation announcer.)
- Is he going to be BIASED for the St. Louis Cardinals? [Yes.]
- Are Joe and Tim…uhm…you know…gay…because I had always suspected Tim McCarver and Gary Thorne (Smithers) to be..uhm…you know, gay. It’s just that Tim and Joe seemed to really…uhm…click.
As the years marched on, I noticed that Joe Buck:
- Hates long baseball games (3 hours is too long for him).
- Hates walks.
- Has a steroids soapbox, and is extremely opinionated about off-the-field issues on-air.
- Turned a blind-eye to steroids during the McGwire-Sosa HR race in 1998, but lashed out users after the “secret” was revealed. Bob Costas and others did the same exact thing. At least Tim McCarver took responsibility for being a hypocrite a couple of years ago (Tim got points from me for that.)
- Really, really, really, really, really likes Derek Jeter.
- Really, really, really, really, really hated Barry Bonds: “I met Barry Bonds the other day, and when I was introduced as Joe Buck, lead broadcaster for Fox, Barry Bonds turns to me and says ‘So?’ We’ll see how professional I am when Mr. Bonds steps up to the plate. If I don’t throw a ‘so’ into my announcing, I don’t think I will be doing my job.”
- Makes disparaging remarks about New York fans in attendance and NY City in general.
- Gang up on “troublesome players” with Tim McCarver (Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, A-Rod, and other superstars).
- Loves to second guess managers, general managers, and owners.
- Enjoys mentioning high player salaries and the Yankees payroll.
- Although he found the 1996 Yankees and 1999 Yankees emotional and inspiring teams, he really painted their other opponents as underdogs and did his best to lash out at the unfairness of George Steinbrenner’s money.
- Is TOTALLY sarcastic, snarky, moody, and hates all of his critics online and in the newspaper- he gets VERY defensive and doesn’t change.
- Killed SO many great calls. As a lifelong baseball fan, I CAN’T STAND watching video from 1996-2010 from FOX because Joe Buck calls it. I like when his voice is dubbed over with local announcers or the radio feed.
- His monotone voice is horrible- he sounds like a downer and emphasizes the wrong words, which usually show his frustration and SNARK with the game or player. A lot of times, it’s like he is jinxing a team or rubbing in a lopsided score in.
- Is a company man concerned about hourly ratings.
Here’s a 2003 Cubs perspective (Sean Keane):
When starting pitcher Kerry Wood was still in the game, the director had taken to showing his wife, Sarah, about every two minutes. Kerry went eight strong innings, so they showed her a lot.
When Joe Borowski came in to close the game, it was definitely a milestone in Cubs history, one that might be recorded and re-played by devoted fans for years. Borowski struck out Andruw Jones for the final out, and Joe Buck’s historic call went like this:
“Sarah Wood will be celebrating with her husband tonight!”
Yes, for the Cubs’ first series win in 95 years, by all means acknowledge the starting pitcher’s wife first. Joe Buck is a douchebag.
Pete Robertson, 2006 World Series:
I was just listening to the last pitch of the World Series and Joe Buck’s call. He made reference to Jason Isringhausen’s conversation with Adam Wainwright and being swarmed then said Wainwright was being swarmed in a big big way. Just utter jibberish….nonsensical shit for brains stuff at the cusp of the Cardinal’s game 5 win. Ive been in radio play by play for over 20 years, and this guy is an embarrassment to our fraternity.
Here’s Buck announcing the Red Sox victory over the Yankees in 2004, the culmination of the greatest come-from-behind victory in baseball history:
“It will be their fifth pennant since the year 1918, there it is, ground ball to second, Reese…the Boston Red Sox have won the pennant.”
Because that’s what Red Sox fans were going to remember – finally getting that elusive fifth pennant since 1918. Tool.
2008 Phillies fan:
When he called this years Rays / Phils series it visually pained him to say the Phillies were going to win…little Joey Buck decided it was more important to remind folks of booing Santa Clause (cheap way out Joey), and the fact that the Phillies lost 10,000 games before any other pro-team. Not that they deserved to win, not that they simply won 24 of 30 games in the last 40 days
Joe Buck’s monotone delivery makes him sound entirely disinterested in the game (which is probably true). Just because you’re supposed to be impartial doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about a big play. Actually, he’s not just disinterested, he has a negative opinion of everything. He never misses an opportunity to mention how hitters are struggling, but never how pitchers are dominating. Great defensive plays are always about the slumping hitter. Steals are about poor defense and pitching. How can you generate excitement in a broadcast with commentary like this?
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