Friday night brings us the start of the American League Championship Series. This means Friday night also brings us the return of Joe Buck to the airwaves.
Since 1996, Buck has been the voice of MLB’s postseason on Fox. When I think of Buck—and I think of him often—I don’t hear him calling a game-winning home run or series-clinching strikeout. For my money, the most indelible audio memory of Joe Buck is him being forced to read promos for Fox programming. And I do mean forced, because his android-like delivery of said promos suggests there is someone offscreen with a gun pointed at his head.
As baseball’s playoffs coincide with TV’s traditional season premiere season, Fox has always used its coverage of those playoffs as a vehicle to promote its brand new or soon-to-return shows. Each year Joe Buck has led these broadcasts as their lead play-by-play man—which he has since the last time Ross Perot ran for president—he has had to break away from the exciting playoff action to tell us all about these impending debuts. He knows as well as the anxious baseball fan watching at home that the vast majority of these shows will disappear without a trace three weeks after their birth. He also knows that even the “hits” he’s had to flog are either depressing monuments to fabricated culture (American Idol) or testaments of America’s disturbing flirtation with fascism (24). At least I like to believe Buck recognizes this task as the joyless death march it is, since he reads these announcements in tones that make Mike Francesa’s ad recitations sound like Marlon Brando.
In tribute to this autumn tradition, I’ve assembled a supercut containing Joe Buck promos from every postseason he’s been on the air so far, 1996-2016. You will hear and see him flog programs that I guarantee you have no memory of unless you personally apeared in them (and even then, you might struggle to come up with a name). You will also hear him blame Fred Savage for a power outage and linger a little too long on the charms of Zooey Deschanel. It is a testament to Buck’s dedication that, even when mooning over a pretty young actress, he still sounds as if he gobbled a fistful of Xanax.