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Not My Job: Sportscaster Joe Buck Gets Quizzed On Kittens And Rainbows

Mar 31, 2018
Originally published on March 31, 2018 8:38 am
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PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Lastly, when we here in Chicago want to think of something that's happier than, well, anything else, we go back to the fall of 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series.

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: Yay.

BILL KURTIS: Right after that happened, we spoke to the guy who broadcast the Series, sportscaster Joe Buck. Peter began by asking him about the elephant in the room - the fact that everybody hates him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

SAGAL: You call your book, "Lucky Bastard," so you kind of lead with the knowledge that there - in the very opinionated sports fan community - there are pockets of people who are not fans of yours.

JOE BUCK: Yeah, but it's really, I think, born out of the fact that in baseball, all year long, Cubs fans are listening to their announcers...

SAGAL: Who are pretty great.

BUCK: ...Call the action.

SAGAL: Yeah.

AMY DICKINSON: Yeah.

BUCK: When we show up, we're the national guys and, yeah, we get excited for Rizzo hitting a home run or Bryant hitting a home run or Hendricks pitching great, but we also have to get excited for the other side, and they're not used to hearing that. So it's OK. I've gone to a lot of therapy for this.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCK: I pay, like, $240 - $250 an hour to get over it - knowing that people don't like me in certain parts of the world. And that's fine. I can accept that.

SAGAL: Right. So that means that any game you do, whether football or baseball, you can be reasonably certain that everybody is going to be furious at you at one point because you're praising the other team.

BUCK: At some point, they want to throw something at the TV. And they say, I hate that guy 'cause he just yelled 'cause the other team just hit a home run.

SAGAL: Wow.

BUCK: I get it. It's fine. All good.

SAGAL: Let me - one of the things I am amazed at is that you seem very excited and caught up in the game. You seemed really excited when the Cubs finally won. So...

BUCK: Yeah. I mean, first of all, my name - the name of my book is "Lucky Bastard." I am the luckiest person to get to sit there and call that. And that was - of the 19 World Series - and I will tell you that that is as good as it will ever get for me...

DICKINSON: Oh.

BUCK: ...For an announcer of calling any sport. To declare the Cubs champions after 108 years was the highlight of my career.

SAGAL: Right.

DICKINSON: Oh, yay.

BUCK: Might as well just walk away now.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Have you, Joe - have you - I mean, 'cause we all knew if the Cubs won, it was going to make history. Had you prepared something 'cause you - we all remember Al Michaels' can you believe in miracles and all the other famous calls. Did you have one ready?

BUCK: It was 10th inning of Game 7, which is insane in and of itself.

SAGAL: Yeah. I remember

BUCK: And a guy hits a chopper to the third baseman, Bryant, and you got to kind of call the play first, and then whatever comes out of your mouth after that comes out. So I have to live with whatever happens like you guys have to live with whatever you say spur of the moment. And you have to trust yourself.

MAZ JOBRANI: So what did you say when it was done?

BUCK: I don't remember.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I believe you said, if I'm not mistaken, the Cubs win the World Series, which had the benefit of being true.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCK: Yeah, it was something really deep like that.

SAGAL: Other question - the opposite question. Baseball can be pretty dull.

BUCK: Yes.

SAGAL: In one of those endless at-bats where the pitcher keeps throwing over to first base and the batter keeps filing it off, do you ever just - you have nothing to say and you just...

BUCK: Yeah. And that's the beauty of TV as opposed to radio. I'm can just sit there and be like, listen to the sound of the crowd and the yell of the (unintelligible).

(LAUGHTER)

BUCK: Take it all in, everybody. The sounds of the ballpark. Yeah, you don't have to say much.

SAGAL: And that's when you quietly slip off to the bathroom, right?

BUCK: Yeah, I've done that. I've...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: OK, so tell me about that. What do you do when you need to go to the bathroom?

BUCK: Yeah, I - one of the requirements that should be taught in broadcaster school - although I didn't go to broadcaster school. I went to the school of nepotism - is that you need to have...

(LAUGHTER)

BUCK: You need to have a great, strong bladder to call professional sports because - especially in football where, you know, you don't know how long a half's going to last, and then the timeouts happen and an incomplete pass. If you have to go to the bathroom - I actually called a touchdown on national TV in the NFL while going to the bathroom.

DICKINSON: No, no, no.

SAGAL: Wow.

(LAUGHTER)

DICKINSON: Oh, my God.

LUKE BURBANK: Who scored the touchdown?

BUCK: Sterling Sharpe of the Green Bay Packers. And it was Green Bay and Atlanta, and he called a touchdown, and let's just say that we came back from commercial earlier than I thought we were going to.

SAGAL: Wow.

DICKINSON: Wow.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: This was at Lambeau?

BUCK: This was - no. Believe it or not - and friends of mine can't believe this actually happened - they would give up home games at Lambeau to play some games in Milwaukee. So this was a game in Milwaukee County Stadium - the last game the Packers ever played there as the home team.

BURBANK: Well, for obvious reasons.

BUCK: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah, they couldn't use the stadium anymore. It smelled funny. Nobody knew why.

DICKINSON: Oh, my God.

BUCK: Yeah, it did. It did. Look, I'm not proud of admitting anything.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Joe Buck, we have asked you here today to play a game that we are calling...

KURTIS: It's all just kittens and rainbows.

SAGAL: This week, we thought everybody could use a little adorable distraction. So we are going to ask you three questions about kittens and rainbows. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Joe Buck playing for?

KURTIS: Leslie Bayer of Kansas City, Mo.

SAGAL: So you ready to play?

BUCK: I am. Leslie, I'm sorry, before we start.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Here's your first question. In 2007, a kitten in London named Otto made news for doing what? A, its unique mix of short and long fur earned it a TV show called "Mullet Cat."

DICKINSON: Oh, God.

SAGAL: B, Otto, the kitten, climbed on the composer of "Cats," Andrew Lloyd Webber's keyboard, deleting the entire score for his new musical, or C, the queen's footman lost one of her corgis and attempted to secretly replace it with Otto the cat.

BUCK: I'm going to go with Andrew Lloyd Webber - B.

SAGAL: You're right.

DICKINSON: No.

SAGAL: That's right.

DICKINSON: No kidding.

SAGAL: That's what happened.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Lord Webber, as he is actually known, was writing a sequel to "Phantom Of The Opera," which Otto the kitten saved the world from.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Two more questions, Joe. Here we go. Here's a rainbow. The Rainbow Sheikh of Dubai - a real person - he's known for his vast wealth. But how did he get that nickname, the Rainbow Sheik? Was it A, for a wedding present he gave his wife - a new Mercedes for each color of the rainbow; B, he picked the name Rainbow Sheikh because the name Iron Sheikh was already taken.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Or C, it is said that the cuisine he eats in his palace is so fine, he literally farts rainbows.

DICKINSON: Oh, God.

BUCK: I'm going to go with A...

SAGAL: You're going to go with A - for the wedding present?

BUCK: ...The Mercedes.

SAGAL: Yes, you're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: He gave his wife...

JOBRANI: Wow.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: ...Seven Mercedes in the colors of the rainbow, earning a nickname, the Rainbow Sheikh.

DICKINSON: Oh. Well, you know, we'd better get used to that kind of nonsense.

SAGAL: Yeah, pretty much.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right.

DICKINSON: Oh, Donald.

SAGAL: You've gotten two right, but let's go for perfect, Joe. Back to kittens. In 2011, an adoption shelter in England took weeks to find a home for one of its kittens. Why? A, thanks to a typographical error, it was advertised not as the perfect pet but as a perfect pest; B, the kitten insisted on only eating gluten-free cat food, or C, the kitten looked just like Adolf Hitler.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCK: I'm going to say C - Adolf Hitler.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

DICKINSON: Whoa.

SAGAL: It was, in fact, Adolf.

JOBRANI: Way to go, Joe Buck.

KURTIS: Joe.

JOBRANI: That's a perfect game.

SAGAL: That's a perfect game.

KURTIS: It is.

SAGAL: Picture perfect game.

KURTIS: No-hitter here.

DICKINSON: Somebody's going to have to call that.

SAGAL: It really does. And it was called - Kitler is the name.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And unlike a picture of me, I urge you to Google Image that because it's pretty hilarious.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I'm going to ask you something, Joe. You took a secod before answering each of those questions. So if you were to do a play-by-play for your own thought process, what would it have been like?

BUCK: Well, here's a guy who's standing on a street in Manhattan right now listening to a roaring crowd behind three people who he's never met who are asking him questions about topics he doesn't care about.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: There you go. Joe Buck at his finest.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Joe Buck, as you probably know if you've watched any sports at all, is an announcer for Fox Sports, and you heard his voice during the World Series. And on Sundays, you'll hear it during football season. Joe Buck, thank you so much for joining us.

(APPLAUSE)

BUCK: Hey, top of the resume - three for three.

SAGAL: You bet.

BUCK: Three for three, baby.

SAGAL: That's it for our timeout for healing special edition. Support for NPR comes from NPR stations and Amazon Music, where users can listen to music from a catalog of millions of songs and hand-curated playlists including today's new releases and music from yesteryear. Learn more at amazonmusic.com. Home Instead Senior Care, committed to helping senior loved ones remain at home as they age. Professional caregivers help with bathing, driving and overnight stay - at homeinstead.com/npr. And Lumber Liquidators, supporting rebuilding efforts in Aransas County, Texas, which was affected by Hurricane Harvey - providing materials, support and money to help rebuild public schools in the county. More at lumberliquidators.com.

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Thanks to everybody you heard today, including, of course, Bill Kurtis, all of our panelists, all of our guests, all the people who called into play, and as always, the amazing Carl Kasell - our living patron saint. And, of course, to you for listening. I'm Peter Sagal, and we'll see you next week.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.