Joe Buck has been the lead announcer for FOX's MLB coverage since 1996, and has led their NFL coverage since 2002. Over that timespan, if you haven't said it yourself, you've probably had a friend - or 10 - that have asked during a prime-time game why they get the impression that Buck isn't a fan of their favorite team.
Now 50, Buck has a theory.
"Not only am I attached to this angst and at times failure, but I'm also screaming for the team that just won it," Buck said on his new podcast Daddy Issues with Joe Buck and Oliver Hudson. "So it's almost double. Not only do you have to see my face and my gigantic head, but you have to listen to me get excited [when something good happens for the opposing team], which you don't all year. So you're watching in Boston or in New York, and it's state run TV...it's 'we're the best, we're the best...yay, we just hit a home run...boo, the other team just hit a home run.' And then I show up when you care the most, and not only did you lose, but I'm screaming and yelling because another team just beat you. It's all so natural. But that's just kind of the life I have to [accept]. It's either that or don't do it, there's no way around that."
It's true, local announcers typically work directly for the team they announce for or for a media company with close ties to the organization. A great local announcer isn't necessarily a fan in the booth, but they tend to get excited by a positive moment for the team they are calling games for, and disappointed by a moment that hurts the team's chances of winning.
The responsibilities of a national announcer are different. Sure, they are calling the game for the fans of the two teams competing, but they are also speaking to a large audience of fans with no connection to either team. Their responsibility is to get excited by the chaos of the game and great individual moments, regardless of what team is the beneficiary. Of course, that means that if the Yankees hit a walk-off home run to head to the World Series, Red Sox fans forever associate Buck getting excited by the moment with the pain they felt from what had transpired. Like Buck said, that's just part of the deal if you call a majority of the postseason games for two decades and counting.
If Buck has an allegiance to any team, it's the St. Louis Cardinals, who his father, Jack, became a Hall of Famer for while calling their games on RADIO.COM affiliate KMOX. Joe also cut his teeth in the industry calling Cardinals' games, among other gigs. Beyond the Cardinals, though, he doesn't have any team allegiances.
It's funny, though, Buck is often criticized most by fans in major markets that believe he dislikes their team. He says that not only is that not true, but he stands to benefit to some degree if major-market teams win.
"Here's how I think - Yankees, when they're good, everybody [working in media] is happy. Red Sox, when they're good, everybody at FOX - therefore I - we're all happy. Cubs, same thing. Dodgers, same thing. These are all fanbases that think I don't root for them or hate them or I root against them - I would be literally cutting off my own paycheck in essence or the happiness with my network if I rooted against these teams. Now, when the Red Sox and Yankees play, I don't care who wins, I didn't grow up in that, so I get excited for a big play and that's it. But the big-market teams, those are the ones at the end of the day that you want in the biggest games. So, if anything, I'm more leaning towards the Red Sox at times...or towards the Yankees, depending on who they are playing. When they play each other, I don't give a s---."