Joe Buck

Francona to Join Buck in Fox Booth for First Two Games of ALCS

Fox Sports today announced that former Red Sox Manager Terry Francona will serve as color analyst with play-by-play man Joe Buck for the first two games of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Francona will fill-in for Tim McCarver, who will be sidelined due to a minor heart-related procedure he will undergo later this week.  McCarver is expected to return to the booth with Buck for game three of the series on Tuesday night.

The ALCS begins this Saturday at 7:30p.m. ET.

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Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 63- Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, NBC Sports

Ken Fang from Fang’s Bites and I are back with another edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.

We begin the show by looking at the historically low ratings numbers for Fox on its coverage of the MLB All-Star Game.  In conjunction with that we talk about the physical struggles facing Joe Buck and a petition to have Vin Scully call one last World Series before he retires.

We also take a look at the solid ratings being seen by ESPN on its coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  With the success of the U.S. squad chances are good that ESPN will see good numbers in this Sunday’s final.

Ken and I also talk about how, when soccer gets a following, sports talk tends to bash the supporters.  We look at examples from local radio in Boston and from national sports writer John Feinstein.

We also talk about Google+, a new service by Google intended to compete with Facebook and Twitter.  Both Ken and I are on the service and offer our opinions.

Our guest this week is Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, college sports analyst for NBC Versus.  We talk to Akbar about his NFL career and how it has shaped his craft in broadcasting.  We also talk about his upcoming assignment working on PAC 12 football contests on Versus as well as his views on the NFL lockout.  We also talk to Akbar about his appearance on the ABC reality series Expedition Impossible.

HBO Snags Buck

Well, that didn’t take long…

With Bob Costas’ seat still warm following his departure this week from HBO to the MLB Network comes word today that HBO will replace Costas with Joe Buck.  From the HBO press release:

“I am flattered and beyond excited that HBO has given me this opportunity,” said Buck, who will continue as FOX Sports’ lead play-by-play commentator on its NFL and MLB packages. “With HBO’s track record, production quality and rate of success, there is no more desirable home in sports. I hope to create something fresh and unique for the network that truly showcases all I can do. And I hope to get Larry David’s cell phone number someday.”

“At HBO we strive to produce programs viewers cannot watch anywhere else on the dial,” said Greenburg. “Whether it’s ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’ or ‘Hard Knocks’ or our ‘Sports of the 20th Century’ documentary franchise, we try to capture our audience’s attention with something unique and innovative. With someone as talented and engaging as Joe Buck, this new show should become another signature program for HBO Sports.”

“We will craft the series to showcase Joe’s character and personality,” said Bernstein. “Joe is a tremendous broadcaster and weare thrilled to develop this new platform with him.”

It will be interesting to see how Buck will fit in his new role as studio host, comething he has not done too much of at Fox.

OK, So I’m a Joe Buck Appologist

Thanks to Brian at Awful Announcing for finding the two stories I link here.

It appears there are two media outlets (at least that AA refers to) which feel that Fox’s Joe Buck does not deserve to hold his current job as lead play-by-play man for Rupert Murdoch.

Let’s see what they have to say.  First, here’s a piece from Matthew Nadu at the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia.  In it he says about the “emotionless, dull and life sucking” Buck;

Buck lacks that certain something when he broadcasts a sporting event. He can’t quite put the, what’s the word, ah, life into anything. In fact, it feels like he makes his living draining the life of all who are forced to listen to him.

The second rant comes from Stephen Kaus writing for the Huffington Post;

Where, exactly, was Joe Buck while his father Jack was urging St Louis Cardinal fans to “go crazy folks” when the Redbirds won a playoff game* or telling a national radio audience that “I don’t believe what I just saw” after Kurt Gibson’s 1988 world Series blast off of the Eck?**

Was he reading a book? He is bloodless!

Both authors make the point that Fox should replace Buck with Kenny Albert.  Both also take the opportunity to jab at Buck for his role in the story this week that he and his Fox collegaues received escorts from the U.S. Marshalls Service to and from games.  A real cheap shot and not germane to the discussion.

I, for one, do not watch sports on television for the announcers.  That may sound silly coming from a writer for a sports media site but I view the role of announcers as providing information about the game.  In my opinion Buck is one of the best because he DOES NOT scream and get excited.

These complainers are probably the same ones who will moan about the announcers who  use catchphrases to make sure they are noticed.  Announcers should be like referees, they have a good game when they are not noticed.  A good example of that was Pat Summerall.  He was Mr. Laid Back.  As far as I can tell he was always well received…and I agree he should have been.

I have read many stories about how smug Buck can be, etc.  I really don’t care.  He calls a good game.  Period.

Joe Buck Doesn’t Watch Much Sports

From the “You must be kidding me” department…

Take a listen to this short clip from Fox’ Joe Buck on the Colin Cowherd radio show today on ESPN Radio.

For a guy who makes a living as a sports commentator, shouldn’t one of his tasks be to watch as much sports as possible? It’s his job for crying out loud!

I agree with both men that, for normal people, their lives prevent them from watching much sports during the week. But for you guys watching sports IS part of your job!

Buck is also right about the pace of a baseball game and the time required to watch it. It does take away a little from the enjoyment of the game. You can blame television and some of the prima donna athletes for that.

As much as I like Joe Buck’s on-air work, he should probably take a little more interest in the product on which he describes.

Joe Buck to Concentrate Solely on Fox Duties

Dan Caesar at the St. Louis Post Dispatch has the news today that Joe Buck will no longer be involved in broadcasting Cardinal games locally.  In recent years he had appeared on only a handful of telecasts for Fox Sports Net Midwest.

From the article Buck states his reason for leaving…

“It’s nothing more than it feels like it’s time to make that change and to concentrate on some other things and basically go to Cardinals games as a fan,” he said Monday night. “I’m a fan, and I love to go down there with my wife and two daughters. The fun of that now is more appealing than anything to me.”

Buck will now undoubtedly focus on his role as the lead baseball and football play-by-play voice for Fox, where he has worked since 1994.

Many on the web take their shots at Buck, some over his pedigree (the some of Jack Buck) and others who think he comes off as smug and conceited.

I think Buck is one of the best play-by-play men in the business.  His method of understating plays and letting the video do the talking is what was the great about his father.  More announcers should follow that lead.  Remember, the game is the story, not the announcers.  And as much as his polished look may portray a certain persona, I am not convinced that is reality.

Why Live Blog?

I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to trends in technology and the sharing of information.  Heck, I started a blog, didn’t I?

But there is one aspect of blogging that I cannot entirely embrace…the practice of live blogging.

First of all, let’s all agree that live blogging is a misnomer.  Live blogging is by no means live.  I refuse to use the term any further.  Let’s call it what it is…event blogging or, in the world of sports, in-game blogging.   By the time a blogger pens an in-game post and it’s sent to the blog, appropriate time has passed to classify the information as old news. 

I’m not saying that event blogging doesn’t have its place.  If you’re a blogger at an exclusive event, or one that is not well attended,  providing insight from that event adds some exclusivity for the blogger.  The inside scoop if you will.

Much was made last spring when the NCAA came down on Brian Bennett of the Louisville Courier-Journal for providing in-game blogging of an NCAA Regional Baseball game involving the Louisville Cardinals.  Bennett had his credential revoked, with the NCAA claiming he violated a rule of providing “live” updates of an event to which he did not have the rights. 

What I find puzzling is in-game blogging of a sporting event like the World Series.  What information can one blogging from the event provide readers that they aren’t getting from the nationally televised broadcast of the game?  It makes no sense to me.

Looking at the four major newspapers that cover the Red Sox and the Rockies in Game 1, three of the four have blogs for the teams.  Both Boston papers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, provided in-game blogging of the Sox’ 13-1 rout of Colorado.  In Denver, only the Denver Post provides a sports blog on the Rockies, but there was no in-game coverage of Game 1.

Back to Boston, Rob Bradford’s Herald Blog provided more than just what was happening on the field.  Bradford mixed in statistics and notes that was probably not noted by Joe Buck or Tim McCarver on Fox.  That’s great, but how many people were glued to their computer monitor waiting for these tidbits?  Bradford could have easily assembled those facts and posted them as part of the Herald’s online post game coverage.

The most disappointing in-game blogging came from the Boston Globe.  In its Extra Bases Blog, reporter Amalie Benjamin used the space to rehash what happened after each inning.  I’m sorry, that’s a waste of good bandwidth. 

The Herald, Globe, and Denver Post do a good job of using their blogs to provide the pre-game flavor at Fenway Park.  That’s cool.  You won’t get that information in too many places.  That has a purpose. 

The newspapers are not alone in providing this useless in-game blogging.  Many independent blogs also attempt the practice.  At least the reporters at the game can provide some insight into the action.  Independent bloggers often provide nothing in terms of pertinent information.  The independent bloggers often use this in-game blogging as a way to criticize and mock either the players, announcers, or both.  Again, why can’t they assemble this material for a comprehensive post-game post?  Why is the in-game aspect a draw?

As much as I don’t think in-game blogging is effective I would never say a blogger shouldn’t partake in the process.  I’m sure if there wasn’t an audience they wouldn’t do it.  It’s just not for me.