People love to criticize Fox’s Joe Buck, whether that’s deserved or not, and his October piece arguing that calling the first televised World Series from Wrigley Field would be “the No.1 highlight of my career” took significant flack from those who interpreted it as support for the Cubs (Cardinals’ fans in particular), even though he explicitly renounced team allegiances in the piece and said this was about history. Indians’ fans got mad at Buck during the Series, too, going so far as to create a fake wedding registry for Buck and Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber, and even Buck’s final out call took some heat from those who thought he got too excited about the Cubs’ win.
Now, Buck has fired back at some of those critics. He appeared on Chicago’s Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score Friday, and said those offended by his comments about the Cubs are “going to have to grow up.” (There are also discussions of George Michael, Wham! and the NFL conference championship games.)
Here’s the key part:
“They’re going to have to grow up, if that somehow offends them and their sensibilities. I think anybody who understands the importance of what the Cubs mean and the Cubs winning to where baseball fits in 2016 and going into next year understands it was a big deal and understands the historical significance of it. I mean, that’s what was so incredible. I got to do the Red Sox winning in ’04, but they’d been there in ’86, and they’d been there in ’75 and ’67. As we all know by now, the Cubs hadn’t. And that’s what made it so awesome to be at Wrigley Field and sit in that seat and call those games.
And then on top of it, when you get a seven-game World Series, that’s unreal. When you get 10 innings in Game 7, it’s almost unheard of. It worked out perfectly for what turned out to be a huge audience on TV.”
Later on, Buck said some of those accusing him of bias may need to look at themselves:
“Nobody can listen without prejudice, yet I’m the one who’s charged with it. It may be on the part of the fans. I’m just throwing that out there, but maybe the blame lies somewhere else.”
Buck has a point here, and a lot of the criticism he gets does seem a bit silly. Fans of every team seems to think Buck hates them (case in point, the Packers’ fan who started a ridiculous petition to try and ban Buck and Troy Aikman from calling the Cowboys-Packers’ playoff game), and they often don’t have much reason for that. If everyone thinks he’s biased against them, that seems to suggest he’s doing his job pretty well. It’s also funny that people are mad at him for excitement in calls now, considering that the exact opposite is something people used to get mad at him for, and he’s also not wrong that the Cubs’ win certainly carried historic significance.
However, while it’s understandable that Buck is frustrated with constantly hearing some of this criticism, “They’re going to have to grow up” doesn’t really seem like a way to defuse it, and “Nobody can listen without prejudice” feels a little silly. Plenty of people watch or listen to the World Series without a rooting interest.
Buck isn’t incorrect that some of this criticism probably comes from fans’ own biases, but “just throwing that out there” isn’t going to win over the critics either. That’s not all of the criticism, either. There are people who aren’t Cardinals’ fans who weren’t overly impressed with Buck preemptively declaring this World Series his “No. 1 career highlight.”
Buck can say what he wants, and it’s understandable why he wants to defend himself. However, this kind of acerbic approach isn’t necessarily going to reduce the criticism he receives going forwards. If anything, it might empower the critics to know that they appear to be getting under Buck’s skin. Listening to informed criticism can be good, as can defending yourself, but implying that all the criticism here comes from bitter opposing fans feels perhaps a bit too far.