Fox's voice of baseball badmouths the sport

ON MEDIA

July 04, 2008|By RAY FRAGER

Grilling up a few sports media notes and trying not to drop them where the dog can scarf them up:

Joe Buck was discussing baseball on Colin Cowherd's ESPN Radio show this week, specifically comparing it with the NFL and talking about how pro football's popularity is partially tied into how watching one game a week fits into the lives of most people. And those people apparently include Buck himself.

He was talking about sports in general, but the context had lots to do with baseball when he said: "As far as sitting down and watching sports, it's just not part of my day. Watching Bachelorette is."

Sure, he was probably kidding about The Bachelorette - now, if you had said Rock of Love, dude, we're right with you - but it was not exactly the kind of attitude you might have expected from Fox's voice of baseball.

Afterward, Skip Bayless and Rob Parker laid into him on ESPN2's First Take, suggesting Fox might want to have a baseball voice who likes baseball, somebody like Bob Costas.

"I was stunned and so disappointed. ... Is Joe Buck something of a fraud? I just don't want him doing my game of the week anymore," Bayless said.

Buck already takes lots of hits from critics, but I've always enjoyed his work, and I think part of it - whether he's doing baseball or football - is that he seems to take the games just seriously enough, but not overly seriously. Or maybe I'm the one who should be watching The Bachelorette.

Baseball's All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday on TBS at 2 p.m., in a show hosted by television's best sports host, Ernie Johnson. Cal Ripken Jr. is part of the studio crew, along with new additions Harold Reynolds and Dennis Eckersley.

Reynolds, who departed ESPN amid allegations of sexual harassment followed by his lawsuit against the network that was settled out of court, said, according to highlights of a conference call: "I'm excited just to be involved in baseball; I love it. I feel like everything is behind me now. ... A lot of doors are opening."

Maybe Shaq can rap about what high ratings taste like.

With the month just ended, the six games of the NBA Finals finished as the top six highest-rated shows overall on TV for June, drawing 13.4 million to 17.4 million viewers. In fact, eight of the top 10 shows for June were sports, with the Belmont Stakes coming in seventh and the Sunday fourth round of the U.S. Open ninth. All but the golf were on ABC. NBC had the U.S. Open, as well as the two episodes of America's Got Talent that finished eighth and 10th.

Hmm, so maybe, instead of another rap, Shaq can sing a duet with David Hasselhoff.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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