I've never been a big fan of the work of broadcaster Joe Buck, partly because of his admitted preference for the NFL and disinterest in baseball, partly because he symbolizes Fox's devotion to nepotism among its play by play voices, partly because he's a handy front man for Fox's various production sins -- which logically aren't his responsibilities.
But I felt for him during Tuesday night's telecast. He came down last winter (shortly after calling the Super Bowl) with a virus that weakened a nerve in his left vocal chord, and he continues to recover from it. On Tuesday he was hoarse, and at times I thought I could discern an echo, as if he were being rebroadcast into the arena -- but which was, I think, the result of his mic being set loud enough to pick up the sounds coming off the booth walls.
There cannot be a more stressful thing for an announcer than a voice problem. Buck describes his voice as 85-90 percent recovered and says full recovery is just a matter of time and rehab. Good for him.
Did you notice Justin Timberlake's subtle subversion of his poolside interview during the game? He kept telling Buck You're calling a great game, adding "You're a classy guy with a classy voice." Then he dragged the merits of beer into the interview, which had to be extremely disconcerting to interviewer Mark Grace, who was recently arrested for DUI in Arizona. And he was disinterested in promoting his new movie, which was supposed to be the point of the "chat."
About the only thing he left out was asking these minions of Rupert Murdoch how their phone-hacking was coming along.
At one point during the game, shortly after one of several airings of the new Joe Mauer ad for Gatorade, Fox aired a panning shot of the National League bullpen, showing the backs of various pitchers -- Bell, Hanahran, Kimbrel -- and concluding with a loving, lingering closeup of ... a Gatorade jug.
That was no accident. That was product placement, a subtle ad built into the game coverage. And an example of why I despise Fox.
UPDATE: Here's something I didn't comment on because I didn't realize it at the time I saw/heard it, and is all the more insidious because it was completely plausible: Buck and/or Fox Sports attributed to Willie Mays a criticism he didn't make.
It came out of Buck's mouth on the air, so he's responsible for this inaccuracy.