Joe Buck and the Royals are both winning

Kansas City Royals fans have found an opponent to unite against in the ALCS, and not surprisingly, his initials are J.B.

Only it’s not Jose Bautista, the power-hitting Blue Jays outfielder, but Joe Buck, the power behind the Fox Sports microphone. Royals fans are having a more difficult time silencing Buck than their team is silencing the Blue Jays, after ambushing David Price with five runs in the seventh for a 6-3 win and 2-0 series lead on Saturday.

Even before the first pitch of the ALCS was thrown, one Kansas City fan started an online petition to remove Buck from calling Royals games in the ALCS. The grievance? It seems Buck had the temerity to mention  Madison Bumgarner “87 times, Giants 56 times, San Francisco 24 times, Kansas City 13 times, and Royals 8 times,” during Game 7 of the World Series last year, according to a USA Today story.

Who isn’t shocked by that? Someone actually took time to replay the tape and counted?

You can understand the Royals’ fan’s point of view. Why would Buck talk so much about Bumgarner when he could have been chirping about Omar Infante? If that isn’t a sign of obvious bias, what is?

Sometimes fans can be to baseball what parents are to youth sports — the only thing wrong with the game.

There’s not much difference from city to city, but there’s an element of any fan base that can get easily haughty. With the Royals, that means taking one World Series title — 30 years ago — and three Series appearances and acting as if  you’re rooting for the Yankees.

(Before the University of Florida won anything of meaning in football, sportswriter Dan Jenkins said its fans had the arrogance of Notre Dame and the history of Wake Forest. Then the Gators spoiled it by winning three national titles.) 

Joe Buck is arrogant and smug enough to tweak the tweeter asking people to sign the online petition. When it had been retweeted 26 times, Buck said they could surely get to 30, according to the Kansas City Star. Good one, even if it’s hardly a way to make peace. The gene for humility from father Jack, another broadcaster of note, seems to have skipped a generation.

But the younger Buck is also a good announcer, who doesn’t shriek with false excitement or plant suspense where there is none. Sometimes a double into the corner is going to be a double, no matter how badly the leftfielder misplays the ball.

And Buck doesn’t hate the Royals, no matter how many times he mentioned Bumgarner’s name in Game 7 of the World Series. It might have escaped the fan who counted, but Bumgarner was sort of the story of Game 7. 

(If you want to talk about turning the sound down on Harold Reynolds, where do I sign? His constant chatter is irritating and uninformative, and he thinks if he’s always saying something, he’s bound to make a good point eventually. His .258 average on the field was higher than that in the booth. If he talked as much on the field, Alvin Davis surely must have shushed him in the third inning. Reynolds was once caught stealing 29 times in 64 attempts in 1988. Think about that the next time he offers his expertise on the art of getting a lead off first. All those people who were happy to see Tim McCarver depart should have rethought their positions a long time ago.)

You can understand a Royals’ fan’s frustration last October, to get so close to a World Series championship but lose it because the announcer talked too much about the other team’s pitcher. It’s a good reminder that the word fan is derived from fanatic.

  • Mets 4, Cubs 2: That’s 202 innings pitched in 2015 for Matt Harvey, in case agent Scott Boras is the only one counting, with the possibility of 20 or so more. I doubt that’s the number Dr. Andrews prescribed, but among all the other opponents the Mets have vanquished, the most impressive might be Boras, who’s used to getting his way. Not so with Harvey. These Mets look more and more like the ’69 Mets, only with better pitching. Those Mets scored 14 runs in four World Series wins, but held the Orioles to five in those four. The Cubs have hit 13 home runs this postseason, but nine of those at Wrigley Field; they’ve scored 26 runs in six postseason games, but 19 of those by home runs. It’s not easy to hit homers in a big stadium on a cold fall night when the pitcher is consistently throwing 95 or better.
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