Prior to Thursday night’s NFL game between the Browns and Bengals, Joe Buck learned in surprise fashion that he was receiving the Pete Rozelle Award, which comes with a golden ticket to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Awesome moment as Joe @Buck finds out live on TV that he will be joining his father in the Pro Football Hall of fame!— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 18, 2020
Congratulations Joe! pic.twitter.com/hw0ejy2Pnn
Joe, like his late father Jack Buck, has found his way into just about every big moment in multiple sports. He is the de facto voice of Fox broadcasts for anyone who has watched grown men do things with balls over the past two-plus decades. He has a signature voice, as flat as it can seem at times, but you are never going to wonder who is calling a game as soon as you hear him in a big game on Sunday or any number of MLB playoff games.
Like him or not, he is the current voice of big sports moments and he deserves the induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame; you can bet he’ll be doing the same in Cooperstown someday. Since he started broadcasting for MLB in 1994 and the NFL in 1996, Buck has (mostly) seamlessly jumped between two sports — even two on the same day. He even has a history in calling horse racing and professional bass fishing. The guy does a bit of everything and he does it well.
But find anyone on the internet talking positive about Joe Buck and you are likely to find responses featuring Cleveland sports-related avatars — most of them venting about 2016 and muttering something about Kyle Schwarber.
Kudos to Joe Buck for not mentioning Kyle Schwarber yet. #Browns— Dave @ BIGPLAY (@BIGPLAY_dave) September 18, 2020
Hoping Kyle schwarber isn’t hearing joe buck rave about joe burrow every 3 seconds— John (@JohnHillbery) September 18, 2020
Can’t spell Joe Buck without kyle schwarber, Cleveland fans know this.— John Colosimo (@JCozmo) September 18, 2020
How is Joe Buck winning awards lol everyone hates him except for Kyle Schwarber in 2016.— Goldy (@GoldenNut3) September 18, 2020
I haven’t heard Joe Buck wax poetic about an athlete like he has Joe Burrow since 2016. I hope somewhere Schwarber isn’t crying listening to this.— Kevin Knapp (@Kknapp66) September 18, 2020
Even four years later, there is still a level of hatred for how much Buck clung to the story of Schwarber tearing his ACL in April then coming back and playing hero in the World Series.
Believe me, as someone who also watched every World Series game and had to write about it every day as the Indians’ 3-1 lead slipped away, I was certainly sick of hearing about it after the first few days. But how do you not cling to a story like that when your job is to parse out the best stories of a series and talk about them for 21 hours at a minimum? Schwarber’s 2016 journey and the culmination of the Cubs ending their World Series drought has a movie-quality arc that would seem fake if you brought it to a writer’s room. It’s an incredible story that I hate everything about, but I can acknowledge that it was good. Just like I can acknowledge that Joe Buck is a pretty great broadcaster.
Every team thinks every national broadcaster hates their team, but it mostly (probably) isn’t true. Buck was pretty darn excited about Rajai Davis’ Game 7 homer. It’s fair to say that he is not out to destroy Cleveland sports, but he just enjoys good games and good stories like the rest of us.
Back in 2015, Joe Buck even provided a pretty good theory as to why MLB fans, more so than fans of other sports, get defensive listening to national broadcasters.
“It’s more in the ear of the viewer and the listener than it is in the heart of the announcer,” he say. “But that’s just the way it is. The funny thing is that it’s more of a baseball phenomenon, than it is football. I think it’s because in baseball, fans of the hometown teams hear their hometown announcers basically every game; and the hometown announcers, which I was for the Cardinals for a long time, are living and dying with the team if it’s winning or losing.”
What I’m getting at is this: I’m here to officially call for an end to the Great Cleveland Buck War (and not just because we have been best Twitter friends since 2012). Whether you like him or not, there’s no reason to keep holding onto that hate — or worse, expelling it every time someone mentions his name. He’s at best one of the best broadcasters of the modern era, and at worst serviceable enough that you can tolerate him while you watch the Indians on Fox.
I’m not sure grudges have a shelf life, but four years is far too many to be mad at a broadcaster doing his job. Being mad at a catcher declining a trade that could have given your team an offensive edge in the World Series? That’s worth holding a grudge about. But not this.