Friday, November 4, 2016

A few last words on That Guy

All the world wishes it was in Chicago today, where there will be the parade of all parades for the triumph of all triumphs. The citizenry will take over the streets. Horseless carriages will not be allowed. President Roosevelt will send a congratulatory message, and men's bowlers will be doffed in favor of official Cubs Base-Ball caps.

Or, you know, something like that.

At any rate, somewhere in all the revelry, someone will surely hang Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck in effigy. Apparently, he is much hated in the greater Wrigleyville area. Which means it's probably just as well my wife, Julie, will not be there today, on account of she said something utterly blasphemous the other night while we were watching the game.

"Why does everybody hate Joe Buck?" she said. "I think he's pretty good."

I can hear the outraged cries from here.

I can also hear them when I add this: I think he's pretty good, too. Not the best in the history of the world, but hardly the worst, either.

As a relatively impartial observer -- I was rooting for the Cubs, but the Indians would have been a great story, too -- I've tried hard to understand the Joe Buck hate, and I've failed. I just didn't hear the alleged bias toward the Indians that Cubs Nation swears was in his every utterance. I also found it interesting that, on the other side of the fence, some of my Indians friends were equally convinced of Buck's Cubs bias.

It all reminds me, frankly, of my sports columnist days, when anything vaguely negative I wrote about IU or Purdue was immediately interpreted as bias toward whichever school I wasn't addressing. IU fans were convinced I hated IU, and especially its basketball coach, the lightning rod that is Robert Montgomery Knight. Purdue fans were equally convinced I hated Purdue, partly because the newspaper for which I worked had its own perceived pro-IU bias in the eyes of fervent Boilermakers.

I could have told both fan bases they were wrong, if I hadn't been laughing so hard. The Purdue people, for instance, didn't know I came from a Purdue family, that my mom was a Purdue grad and I grew up listening to Boilermakers football on Saturday afternoons in the fall. And the IU people didn't know I was married to a Bloomington girl whose father had once been the IU football team doctor and an integral part of the med school faculty.

Both fan bases, meanwhile, didn't know I was a Ball State grad who had no skin in the IU-Purdue game, anyway. Or at least on those occasions when the Cardinals weren't kicking the Hoosiers or Boilers around on the football field.

In other words ... your perspective all depends on whose ox you think is being gored. Which brings me back to Joe Buck.

It's true he was pretty hard on Cubs manager Joe Maddon, but Maddon left himself open to the criticism with a handful of squirrely moves that betrayed a smidgen of panic in the last two World Series games. For Buck not to have dwelled on those potentially ruinous moves would have been evidence of bias.

Other than that?

Other than that, I'd love to do what I always wanted to do with the IU and Purdue fans who were convinced I hated their respective schools. I'd love to put an Indians fan and a Cubs fan in a room together and have them discuss Joe Buck.

Shoot. I might even pop my own corn for that.

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