About Joe Buck’s voice

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People have noticed Joe Buck’s obviously weakened voice since the beginning of the season. As it was revealed last month, he’s the victim of a virus that has affected a nerve in his throat, and in turn, his vocal cords.  It’s killing his high register — wasn’t aware he had one, but hey, you learn something new every day — and is affecting his overall tone.

There was a story in the New York Times yesterday in which Buck talked all about it. He’s getting better, it seems, though the whole recovery process could take many more months.  All of which makes me wonder about why he’s still calling FOX’s top games in both baseball and football.

This is not some personal shot at Buck, a pile-on bash of his broadcast style, or some cold-hearted jab regarding his medical condition. It’s simply a realization that this condition is adversely affecting FOX broadcasts.  It is his job is to be the voice of the sports he’s broadcasting and his voice itself continues to be a distraction — sometimes a serious distraction — from the game itself.

If he had some sort of illness that affected his ability to work a full schedule but which would not substantially impact his ability to do his job when he could work it would be a totally different story. But this is different. This isn’t a matter of making an accommodation for someone whose temporary medical condition makes the logistics of doing the job a bit more challenging. It’s a situation in which the temporary medical condition is adversely affecting the quality of the work itself and for which there doesn’t appear to be an accommodation which can fix it.

Maybe that’s insensitive. I don’t know. But the product really is suffering. And it will only become a bigger problem once the playoffs start and the games themselves get bigger.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.