Buck’s love for baseball strong going into 21st World Series
With the Fall Classic going the full seven games the past two seasons, Joe Buck is preparing for Boston and Los Angeles to go the distance as well.
“I’m asking for John Smoltz to get a raise, because all we get are seven-game series,” Buck said Monday as he prepares for his 21st World Series call for Fox. The series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox begins on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
Of the five postseason series that Buck and Smoltz have called since 2016, only one has not gone seven games. The 2016 NL Championship Series between the Dodgers and Cubs went six games.
Smoltz, who became Fox’s lead analyst in 2016, can also be credited with Buck’s renewed enthusiasm for calling baseball. Buck said a couple years ago that he only wanted to do a few more years of baseball, but a contract extension with Fox will keep him in that role through at least 2021, when the network’s current deal with Major League Baseball expires.
By that time, Buck will have tied Tim McCarver for most World Series television appearances with 24. All but eight of McCarver’s Fall Classic calls were as Buck’s partner.
Fox has had the rights to baseball since 1996 and is expected to renew its deal once it comes up for negotiation.
“For a seven-game series I couldn’t look more forward to working with someone like John,” Buck said. “When he’s doing a game, he prepares just like he was pitching, analyzing different guys and what they look for. He is so dialed in that it’s fun and he’s a good teammate.”
Smoltz said the pairing has worked so well because they have similar personalities.
“He’s been doing it so long but he’s looser and enjoying it and it shows,” Smoltz said. “We feel comfortable that if we never look at each other I know when to go. That’s when you know you have a good thing going. It is not guesswork and that came quick. It’s not always that easy.”
The World Series also comes in the midst of the busiest month of Buck’s 25-year career at Fox. He normally does only baseball once the league championship series begin, but he has added “Thursday Night Football” to his schedule.
If the World Series does go the distance, Buck will be doing 18 games over a 22-day stretch. Buck said it’s a grind he is used to from his years doing St. Louis Cardinals baseball games on radio and television.
“So far it has been going great. Most of the games have been exciting,” Buck said. “As far as getting ready it is getting updated on the stories and then calling it. I prefer doing a game compared to the other way of gathering so much information that you are drowning in numbers and can miss the forest for the trees because you are worried about all the prep that you did.”
One game a day should also be an easy challenge for Buck. In 2012 in San Francisco, he did a Giants-49ers game and less than an hour later was in the booth for Game 1 of the NCLS between the Cardinals and Giants.
There were rumblings that Buck was going to repeat that Sunday with the Rams hosting the Packers at the LA Memorial Coliseum and then a possible Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. But Buck said he would stick to just baseball due to Los Angeles traffic and an already heavy schedule.
Even though the Thursday night games can be a challenge, Buck said the football broadcasts have re-energized the network’s top crew. The travel has also not been as bad as it could. After doing Games 1 and 2 in Boston, Buck is scheduled to call the Dolphins-Texans game in Houston before traveling to Los Angeles for the weekend.
“The games have brought out more of a loose and fun side that we rarely showed on Sunday,” he said. “Maybe it is because we are parachuting in for the games and have to be a little more off the cuff but it has been a benefit on the air.”
If there is a postponement of any of the games in Boston, Buck would stick with baseball and Thom Brennaman would do the Thursday NFL. The NFL game would also go to Fox Sports 1 since the World Series would remain on Fox.
Buck’s ability to go between two sports has earned the respect of both his partners. Smoltz said the only comparison he can make is when he has to go from working in the studio to doing games.
“He is pretty seamless and doesn’t miss a beat,” Smoltz said. “I’m blown away by how easy he makes it look.”
Troy Aikman, who has worked with Buck since 2002, has also marveled at the way Buck has been able to juggle two sports.
“He’s as talented a guy that I have been around and worked with,” Aikman said. “It’s a good time for him and the beneficiaries of that are myself and Fox.”
This year’s World Series is a dream matchup for Fox because of the fan bases and the size of both markets. Even though Boston is considered the early favorite, Buck sees it as an even series.
“Boston had 108 wins during the regular season and everyone thinks they are rolling after beating Houston in five in the ALCS, but the Dodgers may have the edge in pitching and the back of the bullpen,” he said. “Boston has been able to scratch out runs while Los Angeles is more of a power team and the way they have scored is all or nothing.”