It was last week when Joe Buck took to Twitter to defend his call of David Tyree's helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII. At the time, I reasoned that Joe's Twitter page and this lengthy explanation of his most infamous call could go a long way in getting over with fans that have never liked Joe's morbid style of announcing. Joe Buck's Twitter page has been a forum for him to interact with supporters and critics, offer insights into his announcing, and generally appear more likable and human (although there was a brief time his profile picture was him and Snooki). Joe Buck has been able to connect on his Twitter page to sports fans in a way that he previously hadn't been able to in the booth. Whether his Twitter page has anything to do with it or not, Joe Buck delivered what may be his best, most excited, and most popular performance last night in the Giants win over the Packers at Lambeau.
The major criticism since the dawn of Buck's dominance as Fox's #1 announcer has been his total lack of emotion in calling the highest profile games in sports. There have also been certain other times in the past where Buck has come off as arrogant or being more interested in becoming a late night star. Joe has always been a top pro amongst play by play men, but the main critique of Buck amongst a large section of fans has been his excitability. When we're jumping out of our chairs at home, we want to listen to someone that feels those similar emotions while telling the story of what we are seeing. That's why Gus Johnson connects with fans, or Bill Raftery, Ian Darke, and others. Dan Shulman would never be confused with a screaming lunatic, but he's as popular as any other announcer because he's able to find a balance and deliver big calls in big moments. Not everyone has to be Gus Johnson to win supporters over and last night, Joe Buck continued what is becoming a trend. He actually sounded excited and was able to connect with viewers.
The perfect example of this from last night's game was Hakeem Nicks catching a Hail Mary pass from Eli Manning at the end of the first half. The play might've taken the broadcast crew by surprise as the Giants were on the edge of field goal range with no timeouts. Instead of playing for the field goal, the Giants went for the touchdown. Here's Joe's call...
"The pass... is... CAUGHT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!! HAKEEM NICKS! ON A LAST SECOND HEAVE BY ELI MANNING!"
Sure his head didn't explode into gooey brain matter all over the field, but it didn't have to. That was more than enough juice to communicate the shock, surprise, and excitement of the play. And Joe continued to bring that kind of excitement throughout the game. It was another step up from his Super Bowl performance last year and the most recent World Series. His call of the Giants/Packers game was a looong way from the Summer, where his vocal cord virus caused his announcing to sound like a hoarse funeral march. You could usually find Joe's name trending on Twitter with all the haters out in full force. And while AA has been as tough on Buck as anybody over the years, credit has to be given when it's due.
Last night, a majority of people who responded on Twitter to AA said they liked Joe's call of the Packers-Giants game and that he's changing their opinion of him as an announcer. Haters will always remain, but there has been a noticable change in Joe Buck's announcing where he appears much more vibrant in his game calls. Over the last few weeks, I've... I've... (straining to type the words) been a fan of Joe Buck's announcing.
Perhaps the next step for Joe Buck is to translate this new wave of support to Fox's MLB coverage. If he again has another strong performance in the NFC Championship Game, how will this carry over to his partnership with Tim McCarver? As I discussed with Jimmy Traina on last week's podcast, a new MLB announcing partner would do wonders for Joe Buck. His partnership with Terry Francona for Games 1 & 2 of the ALCS made the overall experience much better than what has been the status quo for more than a decade with Tim "S-T-R-I-K-E" McCarver.
So where do we go from here? I'm not sure. Does the Mayan apocalypse hit eleven months early? Does Chris Berman become fresh? Does the sun start rising in the west? Does Craig James become a popular United States Senator from Texas? If Joe Buck is on his way to becoming a popular figure in announcing, well, that changes the way one looks at the universe.