BY ANTHONY ALFORD
Joe Buck is Fox’s lead play-by-play announcer for their NFL and MLB coverage. His voice has been part of our listening sports soundtrack for some of the biggest events for the last decade. Buck has called every NFC Championship game since 2003, every World Series game since 2001, and has called Super Bowl’s 39, 42, and 45.
It is easy to say he is over-exposed to the general audience because of all of these top assignments he gets. He has also been criticized for coming off as a smug commentator who is above the games he calls. Others allege he only got his job because of his father, Jack Buck.
While those are all fair criticisms, I’m in the minority in actually liking Joe Buck on commentary.
Over the last few years, he has improved greatly on his level of excitement on calls. For example, in the Packers/Falcons playoff matchup two seasons ago, his call when Tramon Williams intercepted Matt Ryan for a touchdown, one knew from Buck’s tone of the call this play was the big turning point of game (and on their Super Bowl winning run). Another great call was DeSean Jackson’s 65-yard punt return for a walk-off touchdown against the Giants in 2010. But arguably his best call was in the 2011 World Series. David Freese’s walk-off homer led to his call originally made famous by his dad. It was even more special for Cardinals’ fans because the Buck family grew up in St. Louis and has called their games in the past.
Buck has the ability to make any game he calls sound important. Some announcers do not have the chops to have their voice match the tone of the event. This was especially true this year in watching the ALCS and NLCS. While Buck’s voice tone matched the level of importance the NLCS has, his counterpart (Ernie Johnson from TBS) did not have the chops to make the big calls in the ALCS.
I do not believe Buck is a smug commentator. He has a dry sense of humor. But for those who understand it, he can be pretty entertaining.
Some believe Buck is overexposed and is involved in everything Fox Sports does. But that is not true at all. He is not involved with their college football, Nascar, soccer, or UFC coverage.
Also, who at Fox is actually better than Buck on their NFL and MLB on-air talent rosters? Their next tier of announcers is Kenny Albert, Thom Brennaman, Dick Stockton, Chris Myers, and Ron Pitts. While it is arguable Albert and Brennaman are pretty good and could be Fox’s number one announcers, they are not better than Buck.
Buck may not be the best announcer in sports, but when looking at what he has accomplished with the last few years, he may be the most improved announcer in sports media. There are very few announcers I would want calling big games and Joe Buck is one of them.