Joe. He is the least conspicuous: Joe Schmo, Joe Sixpack et. al.; he is legendary: Joltin’ Joe, Mean Joe, or just Joe; if you are a Yankee fan, he is your manager: Joe Torre, Joe Girardi…..he is Joe.
The name Joe is about as normal as you can get. Maybe John is a little more normal, but not by much. Joe is anyone in the world, he could be Joseph, Giuseppe, or Joey. There are millions of Joe’s, both average and extraordinary, in our big wide world. This isn’t about any but one: Joe Buck.
Joe Buck has a bad rep, despite being at the forefront of major sports commentary: he calls the World Series, NFL football, and the Super Bowl if it happens to be on FOX. His Twitter bio attacks the issue from the beginning:
“No I don’t hate your team. Get over it. I am happy to provide you hours of free entertainment or to be there as your piñata for all your frustrations. Enjoy!”
Because Buck is calling a different team every week, he has to have a moderately objective opinion on every team. He is St. Louis born and bred, the son of legendary Cardinals announcer Jack Buck, but he doesn’t favor the Cardinals. He does his job, and because his job is to point out imperfections of a team while they play in front of him, he gets a lot of flack for hating on everyone’s favorite team. It’s all part of the job.
The job, aside from taking the heat, is as tough as it gets; announcers tend to get less credit than they deserve, because all we see is them talking (sometimes rambling) on TV. We can complain about Buck and McCarver waxing poetic about drama in October and not making a lot of sense sometimes, but these guys are hard at work hours and hours before the game. The day usually starts very early, gathering notes and writing the lines they may need later, and when it finally gets down to game time, there is no room for error. You are live, and you cannot take anything back; there is a lot of humility involved in the job, because you have to own up to every mistake you make lest you be ridiculed for it.
Side note: John Sterling of the Yankees is a poster boy for this. He regularly blows calls during games, most recently mis-identifying right fielder Nick Swisher for left fielder Ichiro Suzuki on Saturday. He has become the butt of many jokes because of it. Some people just deal with it, I guess.
As tough as the job is, the day centers around one event, one game. The entire work day focuses on this one event and you can stay on task relatively easily. Unless you were Joe Buck this past Sunday. The football Giants were in San Francisco playing the 49ers in a marquee NFL matchup, while the baseball Giants were at home a few miles north hosting the aforementioned Cardinals. Football began at 1:25PM PT, baseball started at 5:00. There isn’t much time in between to relax…..and Joe spent that time in a trolly, surrounded by more cameras, documenting his trip from Candelstick Park to AT&T Park to finish his day. He was working a pretty difficult double shift.
He called both games, and did it with the same class and professionalism he brings every day. FOX had a full day’s worth of sports exactly how they wanted it: FOX-branded, with Joe Buck at the front and center of it all. So the next time you work a double, and want to complain about the long hours, remember Joe Buck, who normally works a 10 hour day, and this past Sunday, sat on live TV for 8 hours, working what likely ended up being at 14-16 hour day, all for the sake of brand recognition and entertainment. So the next time you want to trash the work that Buck does, here is some advice: don’t!