It’s October in St. Louis, and with the Cardinals in the playoffs for the 12th in the last 16 seasons, it’s time for some local television journalists to throw away objectivity by putting on the Cardinals’ colors — or even gear — while on the air. It’s also time for some in the team’s fan base to believe the Redbirds are being intentionally slighted on the national scene.
First, there were Joe Buck’s comments published this week in the Chicago Tribune, in which Fox’s lead baseball and football broadcaster told Ed Sherman that calling Cubs World Series games “would be the highlight of my career.”
Some Cardinals fans took that as blasphemy from the St. Louisan and son of legendary Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 117 comments on a story about it that was posted on STLtoday.com, the Post-Dispatch’s website.
While some stuck up for him, there were plenty of biting remarks. Among them:
“Buck said that to the Chicago fans because he’s a hack and a sellout who is only in it for the money.”
“Stupid comment Joe. Disappointing to dad.”
“No way he is Jack Buck’s kid! I think he forgot where he came from.”
Sure, he grew up and still lives in St. Louis. But so what? He hasn’t been on Cardinals local broadcasts since 2007 and has been on the national stage for more than two decades, calling four Super Bowls and 17 World Series — including four with the Cards, highlighted by their epic 2011 matchup with Texas.
Some have perceived his comments, which included saying doing a Cubs World Series at Wrigley Field “would be the cherry on top” of his career, as a slap at his roots. That’s ridiculous. Broadcasting something that hasn’t happened in the lifetime of anyone under age 70 would be a career milestone anyone would relish — nobody ever has done the TV play-by-play of a Cubs World Series game.
“This has nothing to do with the Cardinals. Zero,” Buck said Thursday. “It has to do with an opportunity that nobody has had in the history of television … let alone an organization that is beloved and hasn’t won the whole thing since before World War I.
“To anybody who has an issue with somebody saying that, I would say, ‘If you were given tickets to go, would you go? If it was on TV, would you stop and watch it?’ I think the answer’s probably yes, because of the significance of it.”
Buck is in a tough spot in St. Louis, where some expect him to follow step by step the path his revered father walked.
“I think some people are always going to see me as the little kid that got his chance with the Cardinals and got in on his dad’s coattails in this town,” he said. “I understand that, but it’s been a long time since 1991. I think some people, for obvious reasons, look at me as the son of the success story and somebody who was beloved in this city. And I respect that more than anybody here realizes.
“But I look at it from a different perspective and when I was saying that to the Chicago Tribune, that was said as a baseball fan. That was not said in any way having anything to do with St. Louis. Any baseball fan would jump at the chance to go to see, let alone call, a World Series at Wrigley Field on television — which never has been done. And that’s where it comes from.
“But I get it. I get why people feel that way. To a certain amount of people in the city, no matter what I say their (opinion) isn’t going to change.”
Another key contrast: Jack Buck was a Cardinals announcer first, a national broadcaster second. Joe is strictly national now. Quite simply, they are vastly different jobs. To Jack, the Cardinals were “we.” To Joe, the Redbirds are “they.”
Some fans have trouble making that distinction.
“There are certain segments of Cardinal fans, baseball fans, sports fans — especially here in the city — they’re going to have an opinion of me; they think they know me,” Buck said. “They didn’t know my dad; they think they knew my dad, what he would say. And when you get comments like, ‘Your dad’s rolling over in his grave,’ come on. I’ve heard, ‘You’re not your father.’ Well, you’re right. I’m not. We’ve had two different careers.”
Buck’s opinion about Wrigley Field actually respects the baseball roots he inherited from his dad. And I’d bet his father, who did the World Series on TV in the early ’90s and on radio for many years, wouldn’t disagree with his son’s assessment. After all, the Cards win often. The Cubs don’t.
Jack Buck loved big moments, and there would be nothing bigger in sports this year (this decade?) than the Cubs making it to the World Series for the first time since 1945 — unless, of course, they won it for the first time since 1908.
To read more visit STL Today where this article was originally published