For Pete's Sake

Joe Buck is glad Royals fans care enough to be upset with his broadcasts

Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck.
Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck. The Associated Press

Joe Buck swears this is true.

If he was in a room and San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner walked in, Buck said Bumgarner wouldn’t recognize him.

That may surprise Royals fans, who were infuriated when Buck called Game 7 of last year’s World Series. Bumgarner was the MVP after a historic World Series performance, but Royals fans thought Buck went overboard.

One Royals fan started an online petition to get Buck banned from calling the ALCS. Funny thing is, Buck interacted with the fan and others on Twitter.

“I totally get it and I laugh at it by now,” Buck said. “I’m thankful for it. I’m glad that people care. If they didn’t, then we’d all be in trouble. There’s a passion here, just like there’s a passion in St. Louis, like there’s a passion in Chicago or Toronto. People want to hear you do the game for them and it just can’t work that way.”

Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre said Buck has a tough job trying appease fans. Lefebvre compared it to the criticism from Chiefs fans who think the national broadcasters are merely repeating facts that fans already know.

“With baseball, it’s even more extreme because for six months all they’re hearing is the same two or three voices with the same team slant basically,” Lefebvre said. “Now with the stakes so high, here come these guys who are trying to be unbiased, but they never come across that way. Whatever complaints Royals fans have, I’m sure Blue Jays fans have the exact same complaints. But fans in the other 28 markets, I’m sure feel like they are getting a balanced broadcast representing both teams.”

Buck concurred, saying he’s not surprised Royals fans don’t want to hear an outsider saying positive things about the Blue Jays during the ALCS.

And, Buck added, the negative feedback isn’t a new phenomenon. Unhappy fans have been around since his dad, legendary broadcaster Jack Buck, was calling games and well before then.

“This has been going on since the beginning of time,” he quipped. “There was someone in a dinosaur race back in the day who was accused of bias against a Tyrannosaurs Rex.”

“This is something my dad dealt with when he did (national postseason games) for two years,” Buck added. “He would hear from Vin Scully about how Vin had to deal with it. But it was just a different world back then. Back in the day, if you had a complaint or you perceived some sort of bias, you’d have to write a letter or call a switchboard. Now you just get your phone out and tap away. It just sort of feeds off itself.”

For all the bluster on social media, Buck said he’s been received well by fans at Kauffman Stadium and around Kansas City. He said that Midwesterners are just good people at their core.

Still, when Buck goes back to St. Louis after calling a Cardinals game, fans wonder why he’s against the hometown team. So, it’s a no-win situation, no matter what market Buck goes to. But he’s not unhappy about that.

“I’m glad they know we’re here,” Buck said “I’m glad it gets their attention when we are in this booth and they give a damn about what they’re listening to.

“For some reason, I sense more conversation, more excitement about this postseason in general. I think people are locked in on this thing and we’ll just try to do it the best way we can.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff