Shortly after 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, Joe Buck will be trending on Twitter. Game 1 of the World Series between the Red Sox and Dodgers begins at 8:09 pm and the keyboard warriors will commence their criticism.
After Buck was relegated to FS1 (home of the steady stream of unwatchable hot take debate shows) for the National League playoffs, he will now perform on the main stage with the Fall Classic airing on the main FOX network.
That exposure will cause even more people to come out of the woodwork to bash Buck on social media. Why? Because at this point, it's habit.
The complaints are always the same: He got the job because of nepotism. He doesn’t get excited enough. He’s too snarky. And on and on it goes.
While some of these criticisms may have been valid when Buck first started calling baseball for FOX in 1994 at the age of 25, anyone who has interest in having an open mind and being fair should be able to see—at the least—that Buck has improved immensely. At the most, he’s become one of the elite broadcasters in all of sports.
Let's address the tired nepotism charge first. If you’re still using this against Buck, you have to move on. He’s been calling games for 24 years. You don’t last that long at one job just because of your father. Yes, the last name helps you get past the bouncers and in the door. It doesn’t keep you at the party for more than two decades.
Once you get past the nepotism nonsense and make an evaluation of Buck based on performance, there just aren't many legitimate criticisms of his work.
He’s become a master at knowing when to get excited, when to yell, when to take it down a notch and when to put it in overdrive. When that skill is there, the big calls become more special. All you have to do is check out Buck’s calls of a couple of home runs from last year's Dodgers-Astros World Series. It doesn't get any better than this. Notice how each time, Buck goes silent after making the call so the sounds and atmosphere can take over.
For the sake of this column, we're focusing on baseball, but this is also true of Buck's NFL work. You won't hear a better call anywhere than Buck's play by play of Stefon Diggs' shocking and surreal game-winning touchdown for the Vikings against the Saints in last year's divisional playoff game.
As for Buck being snarky, the 49-year-old has also beautifully mastered the art of balancing calling a game straight while injecting humor. Everyone forgets that sports are supposed to be fun, so people get angry when Buck gets goofy. But over the course of three-to-four hour baseball games filled with downtime thanks to pitchers who take a stroll after every pitch and batters who think getting into the batter’s box is optional, you need a play-by-play man with personality.
With analytics taking over broadcasts and numbers and odd abbreviations like FIP coming at you left and right, you better have a play-by-play man who can lighten things up and provide some light-hearted banter.
Buck does of all these things perfectly and has done so for a few years now.
But plenty of people don’t want to see that because they’d rather bash Buck on Twitter. Why? It's just instinct at this point for so many people who don't want to judge fairly and just want to get the likes and retweets because they know there is a lot of Joe Buck hate out there and they want to be part of that community.
In reality, you can't ask for more from a baseball play-by-play man than what Joe Buck gives you game in and game out.