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Joe Buck is Ruining the Playoffs
I love baseball. Really, I whole heartedly believe it is the most beautiful sport and one of the greatest gifts America gave to the world.
In as much as it is not timed, it's a welcome respite from our hectic daily lives. In as much as it is mostly played on natural grass, mostly outside, it is a constant reminder of the transcendental beauty of natural grass. The sound of a ball coming off bat is a symphonic note and the intricacies inherent in each play-will he take off for second? Will he bunt? Will he hit it to right field-are enough to make four hours interesting. Still, you can tune out at any time and come for the end and it's like you haven't missed a thing. It's beautiful.
October is the best month of the year. At the beginning off the month, the playoffs get under way and, though three teams are usually favored to get out of the first round with two ultimately vying for the honor of playing in the World Series, it pays to watch as surprises and upsets constantly abound.
Because I love this game, I must speak up: the beauty of baseball is constantly marred by the voice of Joe Buck on Fox. Through his monotonous, steely voice, his lack of originality, and general smugness, Joe Buck is ruining the playoffs, ruining baseball on television and must leave the game.
Joe Buck might have the most monotonous, most uninteresting voice on television. His vocal chords sound like they were crafted of the straightest, strongest steel. Some may feel this an asset, but I disagree, countering that this might be the biggest Bucking drawback of Joe. His unwaveringly monotonous tone is so terribly uninteresting and off-putting it bleeds life from the game. Baseball isn't boring. Announcers make it boring. And I know others agree with me.
I'm trying to figure out why Buck calls games so flatly. Often genes are the most obvious explanation of present behavior. Luckily, for this analysis, we can look to Joe's father, Jack, to see if he was taught to call games without a heart rate. Jack Buck was a legendary announcer, a true representative of the magic the game has to offer. Below is his call of Bob Gibson's 1971 no-hitter. The joy oozes from the speakers as the unfolding events are told in vivid detail while the outcome is still exciting, 36 years later. One listen and you'll hear that Joe Buck didn't learn how to infuse character into a ball game from his father, which is a shame. While Jack earned a trip to the Hall of Fame in 1987, Joe is on the short bus to oblivion.Bob Gibson's 1971 no-hitter, courtesy of Jack Buck
Joe Buck's unvaried tone of speech would not be as mind numbing if he had anything interesting to say. Most of the time, he'll just tell the viewer things we can clearly see with our own two eyes. We don't need a broadcaster to only tell us that a batter singled to center or the pitcher has an 0-2 count. Those things should be supplemented with an interesting take on the current game.
Vin Scully is great at this as each game serves as a virtual walk down the halls of Cooperstown as he lends his decades of experience to the game at hand. Not one to solely concentrate on yesterday, Vinny will still highlight certain stats that compliment his play-by-play.
Buck's analysis of the game, on the other hand, rests upon whatever predictable stats the producer has placed in front of him. We live in a world where arcane stats, like sabermetrics are readily available and contextually fitting. Yet, Buck chooses to go a more traditional path, eschewing creativity for the safety of stats found in how batter had been hitting lately or how many walks he got. Things that we can clearly see from the stats on the screen. Absent from his game-calling repertoire are shreds of originality that other sportscasters bankrolled into successful careers.
Some might argue that Buck is inherently confined by his role as a play-by-play guy. They might say it is his job to tell us just what is happening on the screen. This argument gains traction on radio, where you have to continually paint a picture of the action, but not on television where we can see the shit happening right in front of us. Buck is aware of this as large swaths of the game go by when he doesn't say anything, leaving me to wonder if he's actually bored of his own voice.
The proof is in the ratings. Last year post season ratings for Joe Buck and Fox were down from 2005. This may have been because of the teams playing, but a great announcer pulls people in, no matter who takes the field. Oppositely, ratings for this years' playoffs on the Buck-less TBS have skyrocketed, helping the Superstation achieve its highest rated week ever.
This is to say nothing of his unwavering love of all things Yankees and Derek Jeter. Nor am I even going to go into detail about his smugness.
Please, Joe, for the sake of the greatest game out there, step aside and allow more qualified and interesting people to take your place.
I understand you call a great football game. Fantastic. It's OK. You're father won't be upset. Go to football. Jump into the arms of Terry Bradshaw. For the sake of all things holy, leave baseball forever. If you love the game, shit, if you even care about the game in any meaningful way, you'll do this. Please, Joe Buck, you're ruining the playoffs.
Photo courtesy The Sports Hernia
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