When I started Rob’s Rants back in the summertime, the best way to describe the sports scene in Philadelphia was cautiously optimistic. There were plenty of signs of life for sure.
Rhys Hoskins had burst onto the landscape with six weeks like we’ve never seen.
The Eagles were about to embark on their 2017 campaign and while there was reasonable excitement and hype surrounding Carson Wentz and the Birds, few if any saw an MVP-level start to the season and the team rolling its way into the bye week with the best record in football.
And how about those Sixers? Four straight wins, including five of their last six. Despite a “load management” day off in Utah, Joel Embiid’s minutes restriction has not been an issue. Ben Simmons' start to his NBA career has been otherworldly and home games have a playoff feel.
The Flyers have been inconsistent but their young core, especially the blue line, is filled with studs.
Plus, the Phillies have a new manager that is an equal opportunity tanner. Short of an actual championship, we couldn’t ask for much more in these parts.
So the Rants department of one intent on calling out all that is wrong and unjust in the Philadelphia sports scene and beyond will take full reverse mush credit for all the good that’s happening. At least that’s what we’re telling ourselves. So not a lot of obvious rant material these days. With that preamble out of the way, I wanted to dive into something I’ve never understood — three words: Joe Buck hate.
Let me state from the jump that I am a Joe Buck fan. Always have been. I find him to be well-prepared, smooth, knowledgeable, has great timing, a sense of humor, often self-deprecating, and knows when to lay out (television term for being quiet) and let the analyst speak or let the picture tell the story. Someone may want to share that last point with Tony Romo. But I digress. Buck is the bane of many sports fans. This is not unique to Philadelphia. He catches equal amounts of heat throughout the country but our fine city certainly has spewed its share of venom his way. But why?
I think what this really boils down to is he is not a local broadcaster. His allegiance does not lie with the home team. And we don’t like that. The NFL on television is a national broadcast as opposed to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick on the radio, which is an Eagles broadcast. Same goes for the three other majors where you get a local broadcast crew most of the time on TV. Buck and his analyst, whether it’s an Eagles game or the Phillies when they were on their playoff run from 2007-11, have to call it down the middle. Yes, you rise to the occasion as he did when Matt Stairs hit that ball deep into the Southern California night in the 2008 NLCS. Or when Wentz makes a ridiculous play. But he has to make the same, excited call when Dak Prescott makes a play or Alex Rodriguez hits a cheapy homerun in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series. It’s not his job to hammer an official if the call doesn’t go your way. He’s paid to be critical but fair, not overlook or make excuses because it’s the home team.
We’ve been sentenced to both Dick Stockton and Chris Myers this season calling Eagles games on television. That in and of itself should make folks appreciate what Buck brings to the table. Can he get a little too cute at times? Maybe. Are there some who will always cry nepotism because his dad was the great Jack Buck? Of course. Buck himself cops to having doors opened for him because of his last name. It’s one thing to have the door cracked open for you, it’s another to take it to the highest level as he has with both football and baseball.
Buck’s Twitter bio reads in part: "I love all teams EXCEPT yours."
He gets it. He doesn’t hate your team or city, he’s doing his job.
So considering the Eagles' great start, we are going to be getting plenty of Fox’s No. 1 team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Maybe this time around, we’ll listen to Buck with a different ear? Then again, who am I kidding, he hates us.