The Once (And Future) Scourge Of Internet Sports Journalism Sticks Up For Sports TV’s Biggest Pariah
Given former Deadspin editor Will Leitch’s status as one of the bigger, self-professed Cardinals fans residing in the media capital of New York City, it’s hardly a surprise to learn (via his latest column for Sports On Earth) that he’s got a soft spot for Fox’s Joe Buck. “I’ve always been a bit baffled as to why he’s so unpopular,” muses the least funny public figure who isn’t a former cast member of “The State”. “I find Buck’s dryness a lot funnier than almost any other sports personality who tries to be humorous,” protests Leitch, who credits the near-universal public dislike for Buck on the latter’s omnipresence.
Fact is, Buck has been calling every NFC Championship Game, a third of the Super Bowls and every World Series for almost 16 years now. (His first World Series was in 1996; his first Super Bowl was in 2005.) Buck has been the soundtrack to an unusually high percentage of sports’ most memorable moments during a time when social media has exploded and fans have more of a voice to complain and vent than ever before. I guarantee you that had Twitter and blogs existed when Vin Scully was doing national games, or Bob Costas and Tony Kubek did the Game of the Week, or Howard Cosell was doing “Monday Night Football,” they would have thought everyone hated them, too. (Can you imagine Twitter with Cosell? Lord.)
Annoying fans is one of the primary job descriptions of a broadcaster. More fans see and hear Joe Buck than any other broadcaster in the country. Therefore, he annoys more of them. He’s doing his job.
If an extended absence for Buck is what it takes for the 2nd-generation broadcaster to finally earn some respect, by all means, let him take the World Series off. Failing that surprise development, it’s a tad desperate for Leitch to suggest Buck’s unpopularity is directly tied to his overexposure. Marv Albert — who at one time, achieved national laughingstock status for his work outside the broadcast booth — has never been the target of fan animus the way Buck has been. Fair credit to Leitch for acknowledging Buck’s hysterical overreaction to Randy Moss fake-mooning fans at Lambeau, but there’s not a word about the Budweiser “Leon” commercials, HBO’s abortive “Joe Buck Live”, the bizarre lipgloss fixation or Buck’s association with a broadcaster who inspires even more hatred (ie. Tim McCarver).
Nope, Will Leitch would like you to believe Joe Buck is picked on because angry nu-media creeps resent someone who is very successful. Essentially the same rationale Leitch tried to apply to his own experience being at the receiving end of constant criticism. The assignments are a bit more glamorous, the guaranteed pay, hopefully better, but Leitch is the same disingenuous ladder-climber he was in the late Naughts.