Joe Buck on 'Foul Territory' Screengrab: ‘Foul Territory’

Few announcers are more qualified than Joe Buck to discuss the difference between player access in the NFL and MLB. That’s not a knock on other announcers per se, but no one has commanded the presence of two national sports with such a stronghold as Buck did for his time during his time at Fox. Of course, there’s Jim Nantz, Al Michaels, Verne Lundquist and Kevin Harlan, among several others, but Buck stole the stage when it came to football and baseball.

And Buck, who recently appeared on Foul Territory, was asked by co-host and longtime MLB catcher Erik Kratz about growing the game of baseball while also dealing with a lack of access to players in the media.

“It’s mandated,” he said. “Even if the guy doesn’t want to talk, in the case of like a Bill Belichick. Back when Troy (Aikman) and I were first together 20 years ago, he was, let’s say, not very forthcoming with information, but he’d sit there. And the starting quarterback would sit there, and you’d get time with them. I’m with you; I mean, we do All-Star games, and there are some guys in the locker room we’ve never met. And you wanna go, ‘Hey, I never met Aaron Judge. Can we spend five minutes with him?’ And it’s like, we’re about to do the All-Star Game. Would it maybe be good to have us have a chance?

“Or (Shohei) Ohtani in 2021, and he came in and was amazing. And then you go on and on about him because he was open and forthcoming with everything that was going on, and he had just hit in the Home Run Derby the night before and had to be dead tired with pitching and hitting. But they’re playing defense on Judge. I think most of the time — maybe I’m wrong, but you guys have been down there — a lot of times the player would be happy to talk.

“But the PR Director plays defense, and they don’t really ever ask if the player wants to talk to the ‘alien’ broadcasters coming down to get to know them a little bit better. I think, yeah, some of that access is good when you’re doing national games. I mean, it’s self-serving because that’s what I was doing, but it makes a difference when you can say, ‘Hey, we talked to Aaron Judge before this All-Star Game, and it’s been a big first half, or whatever. He’s on fumes right now. He’s looking for a better second half.’

“A little bit of personal contact is a good thing and helps promote these players, as opposed to keeping them sheltered because it’s an annoyance to talk to somebody for five minutes. Those guys are there all day, and we’re getting there four hours before the game. You can spare five minutes if you’re gonna end up promoting this player.”

Sure, there’s a vast difference between a 17-game NFL schedule and a grueling 162-game MLB season. However, Buck raises a valid point. We have significantly more access to star NFL players like Patrick Mahomes than MLB superstars like Mike Trout. This transparency is a key reason why the NFL dominates media coverage. Unlike MLB, the NFL mandates broad access for broadcasters, fostering deeper connections with the audience.

Buck might not have explicitly said this, but consider the New York Mets’ recent struggles. Francisco Lindor, their unquestioned leader and de facto captain, has faced the media barrage almost nightly after a brutal stretch of 20 losses in 29 games. While Lindor is a great player, constantly relying on him for explanations creates media fatigue.

But Buck’s observation also goes beyond transparency. Restricted media access in MLB creates a cascade of negative effects. It weakens fan connection, shields accountability and fuels misinformation. By following the NFL’s model of mandated access, MLB can foster a healthier media environment that benefits fans, teams, and the sport as a whole.

[Foul Territory]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.