Craig Calcaterra

Joe Buck

There’s nothing sadder than fans complaining about media bias

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I am thankful for the wild card, division series and the non-Fox LCS each year because they remind me that we’re actually kind of lucky to have Joe Buck.

No, he’s not a particularly wonderful baseball announcer compared to many around the game, but he’s considerably better than some of the other ones on national broadcasts. By the time the Fox-broadcast LCS and the World Series rolls around and Buck is on the scene it feels like we’re improving some. And heck, he’s familiar after all of these years. There are a lot of guys I’d rather have call big games, but given the slim pickings we have in this regard, Joe Buck is quite tolerable as an exercise in enjoying the product of reduced expectations

But not everyone is even as charitable as that. Some Royals fans have decided that Joe Buck is biased against their team and have started a petition to have Fox remove him from their games:

It was announced today that Joe Buck will be calling the ALCS games on Fox and Fox Sports 1. As a Royals fan who was forced to endure his love for our opposing team, more specifically, their pitcher, we find this to be untenable.

For example, on October 29th, 2014, Joe Buck said Bumgarner 87 times, Giants 56 times, San Francisco 24 times, Kansas City 13 times, and Royals 8 times.

Our opinion is clear and simple, why not have someone that will call the game evenly and without a preconceived love for either team?

The only thing dumber than these sorts of petitions is the claim by fans that announcers (or writers for that matter) are biased against their teams.

For one thing, it isn’t true. Really, no one cares about your rooting interest, chief. Certainly not as much as you do. Your life may be so narrow and sad that your team matters to you more than anything in the world, but the rest of society doesn’t think about them that much. And when they do think about them they don’t gin up enough emotion about it to actually hate them. You’re just imagining it.

Indeed, when someone says “[person] is biased against [my team]” I instantly translate it to “I have a pretty severe insecurity/persecution complex and, while I’m not fully conscious of it, my belief that people have it in for that which I love serves to validate my myopic and sad fixation on the professional sports team from my general geographic area.” The media isn’t biased against your team. But they do pity you when they stop to think about you.

There’s also the fact that, even if Joe Buck or other person did hate your team, it doesn’t really matter. I know there are a great many sports fans who think that what an announcer says has some sort of impact on the outcome of sporting events — RIP to all of those no-hitters jinxed by commentators doing their job and noting that a no-hitter is underway — but there are a great many people in the world who believe all manner of dumb things. This may not be the dumbest, but it’s way closer to, say, believing in the tooth fairy than it is to thinking anything reasonable.

If you don’t like Joe Buck, turn the sound down. Or mute him altogether and synch up the radio broadcast to the TV. Or just do what I do and try to tune him out. Any of those approaches are far more effective — and far less reflective of a pathetic person — than railing against his bias or demanding his removal from your team’s games.

But maybe I’m just biased.

Video: Travis d’Arnaud’s homer hit the apple

Travis d'Arnaud
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One of the most underrated ballpark features in all of baseball is the home run apple in New York. When it popped up in Shea Stadium in 1980 it was cute. It’s bigger now and more institutionalized — the old one is outside the park now, serving as something quasi-iconic as opposed to just quirky — but it’s still pretty cool.

As far as home run signifiers it’s way better than the sculpture thingy in Miami. Simplicity is always best. As far as 1980s-era ballpark kitsch it hasn’t lost its soul the way Bernie Brewer’s slide at Miller Park has. It used to be a fun plunge into a beer mug. Now it’s just a big long water park-style slide without the water. Frankly, Bernie Brewer has lost his way.

But the apple is still the apple. And it sits 431 feet away from home plate in center field. Last night Travis d'Arnaud hit it with a homer, just as it was warming up to do its job to commemorate the homer.

Inception:

Playoff Reset: NLCS Game 2

Jake Arrieta
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The Jays and Royals are traveling today. Well, they actually probably traveled yesterday, but we call this the travel day, so let’s just go with that. Tonight we get Game 2 from the senior circuit. Which, I suppose, we’re still calling that despite the fact that younger players are far more important to the NL teams than the AL teams.

What I’m saying is that words don’t matter all that much when it comes to describing all of this. Just watch, man. These games are pretty entertaining.

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jake Arrieta vs. Noah Syndergaard
The Upshot: Arrieta finally looked somewhat mortal in his last start against the Cardinals, giving up four runs in five and two-thirds innings. His boys still got an 8-6 victory, but it was established that, yes, it is possible to score off of him. The Mets don’t have any first-hand information to that effect, however, as he allowed just one run and struck out seven in eight innings in a 6-1 win over them back in July.

Of course this was the Mets’ lineup on that July afternoon:

Curtis Granderson RF
Darrell Ceciliani CF
Daniel Murphy 3B
Lucas Duda 1B
Wilmer Flores 2B
Eric Campbell LF
Johnny Monell C
Jacob deGrom P
Ruben Tejada SS

Things are much different with the Mets these days. David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d'Arnaud make things a bit tougher. The Cubs saw that with d’Arnaud just last night, in fact.

The Cubs will also have to contend with Noah Syndergaard this evening. They’ve seen him before. Indeed, they saw him in his major league debut last May when he gave up three runs in five an a third in a 6-1 loss. Things will be easier for him now in that he knows what the heck he’s doing. They will be harder for him in that this Cubs now, unlike back in May, have Kyle Schwarber, who has homered in three straight playoff games.

The season is long and teams evolve as it goes on. Both of these teams have evolved into ones with tough outs up and down the lineup and aces with ungodly stuff making it tough for those tough outs. And if the Cubs don’t want to have a rough flight back to Chicago tonight, they had best make things tough on the Mets this evening and even the series up.