On baseball bandwagons and Buck


For what seemed like the first time all season, I watched a baseball game with no real emotional interest. On Sunday night, I was pacing and gnawing at my fingers as the Tampa Bay Rays gritted out a Game 7 ALCS win over the Red Sox. Tonight, I sat passively — flipped to South Park at 10 — and returned to watch a compelling 3-2 Philadelphia Game 1 win in the World Series. It was a liberating feeling to say the least.

As this Fall Classic kicks into gear, I’m not really sure for which team I’m rooting. I went to college outside of Philadelphia, and for four years, I saw a good number of Phillies games. I remember seeing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard when they first arrived in the City of Brotherly Love. I tracked the hype of Cole Hamels and saw Jim Thome, pre-White Sox trade, blast a few balls into the far reaches of the lovely Citizens Bank Park. That the Phillies continue to trump the Mets is a source of joy too.

Meanwhile, the Rays are the classic example of the adage that says the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Never before last week had I rooted for Tampa, and I poured a lot of emotion into the Rays. I needed to see them beat a very vulnerable and not-too-impressive Boston team.

I needed it to give it back to that one guy in the bars I was at on Saturday night who kept applauding for the most mundane of outs. I needed it so that Boston fans — the bandwagon Boston fans — could know that their team isn’t entitled to win every year and that with success comes postseason disappointment as well. We in New York know it well; Boston should grow accustomed to it as well.

As I feel no love for the Boston bandwagoners, Tampa then presents a problem. As Florida news reporters are eagerly noting, Yankee fans and other Florida residents are hoping aboard the Tampa bandwagon. Tonight’s game — the first World Series game in Tampa history — drew 40,783, but on the season, Tampa, nearly the wire-to-wire leaders in the AL East, finished 26th in attendance. They drew just 22,259 per game, and most nights, the Trop featured crowds in the low-to-mid teens. These fans at the game now are bandwagoners pure and simple. Can I really reward that level of fandom with my own support?

To make matters worse, Major League Baseball is exploiting this temporary attention on Tampa to push for a new ballpark. Why can’t the game just speak for itself for a few days? Does it always have to be about money? I know baseball is a business, but for a week, let the Series play itself out.

In the end, I might root for the Phillies to see if our neighbor to the south can ends its string of sports championship losses. I might root for the Rays to see if they can become the fifth AL East team to down Philadelphia in the World Series. But no matter what, I’ll just kick back, relax and calmly enjoy the games.

* * *

An aside: I watched tonight’s game mostly on mute, and it was glorious. While mostly I did this to tackle some Civil Procedure reading, I also didn’t have to hear Joe Buck. When I finally turned the game on in the 9th, Joe Buck had some expert analysis for me.

“If Carl Crawford can reach, Willy Aybar is in the on-deck circle,” Buck said. The only problem is that this isn’t a true statement. Crawford was up; Aybar was on deck. If Crawford can reach, then Aybar is up, unless someone else hits in between Crawford and Aybar.

Sure, I’m arguing announcing semantics, but if these two are the best FOX has, I’m going with mute until this series is over.

Categories : Rants


  1. GG says:

    Complaining about semantics from these broadcasters?

    Ugh. From someone who has watched and listened to these guys for 12 years call Oct baseball you should really know better.

  2. yankees=warriors says:

    Ah, the bandwagon fans!
    Last weekend, I was out shopping in the MLB store nearby my house, looking for a new Yankee bag when a man came in and asked the owner if there were any Rays’ caps. The owner showed him the caps, but he couldn’t find his size. Then the owner said the Rays’ caps are selling better than ever THIS YEAR, so he doesn’t have any more in stock.
    Besides that, there’re those ever growing MATSUSAKA T-shirts on the street. So annoying! Makes me wish I should have bought some of those Red Sox mocking T-shirts while I was still in New York…

  3. An observation I had while writing my blog post tonight:

    Since the strike, a National League team has won the World Series in 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2006–five times in thirteen tries. Of those five wins, only once (the Cardinals in 2006) did the National League team win it in fewer then six games. Conversley, of the eight years an American League team won, only twice did the AL team need more thanfive games to win the series (the Yankees in 1996 and the Angels in 2002).

    If that’s not AL domination of the NL…

  4. Miles Roche says:

    I don’t know why i’m defending Buck here, but maybe he was saying something along the lines of “If Carl Crawford can reach, well, Willie Aybar is now in the On Deck circle (NOW, so he’ll be at the plate if Crawford reaches) . . .
    Whatever . . .

    • Ben K. says:

      It is, I admit, a minor squibble. I was amused though that for the few minutes that I actually watched this game with sound, Buck managed to say something that made tenuous sense and had all the rhythm and flow of an answer from Sarah Palin.

      • Listen in Spanish. Seriously. The announcers aren’t idiots, you pick up a little bit of another language (if you don’t already speak it) and the language has a nice, rhythmic cadence that’s much more pleasant than the mute button.

        • Ben K. says:

          That’s not a bad idea. I probably know enough Spanish still to listen to a game as well.

          • My Spanish background is four years of high school, one year of university and one night by myself at a hostel where the only other kids their spoke worse English than my Spanish.

            And now I know all the key phrases in Spanish!

            • Chaz says:

              What about when Kazmir threw a slider that ended up right over the plate and its fouled back. Joe says well that was a lot better pitch then the last just as they show the replay and pitch trax shows it right down the middle and Tim says that was right there – Joe switches what he says w/out explanation and says Kazmir got away with one there – and then chuckles a little bit about how bad he is at calling games

              i don’t speak spanish but i’m doing that for the rest of the series or just get wasted enough to the point where joe and tim make sense

            • Kent Brockman: [bored]
              Halfback passes to the center. Back to the wing. Back to the center. Center holds it. Holds it. [sighs] Holds it….

              Telemundo Announcer: [excited, in thick Spanish accent]
              CENTER HOLDS IT!!!
              HOLDS IT!!!!!
              [grabs microphone and stands up]
              HOLDS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. E-ROC says:

    Bandwagon fans are good for business.

    Buck and McCarver are quite annoying and FOX must not have any alternatives which saddens me. ‘Ol well.

  6. Steve says:



    Good move, one I’ve been advocating for a while now. He’s the perfect compliment to Brett Gardner, who I would still see getting most of the playing time. A veteran stopgap to deepen the bench and share time with Gardner until A-Jax is ready. If you do a straight platoon, between Cameron’s power and Gardner’s run scoring ability you could get nice production overall out of CF next year.

    Gardner is a rookie who fields his position well, has zero power and scouts have questions about whether he can hit big league lefties (which were a huge problem for the Yanks this year)

    Cameron is a veteran who fields his position well, has good power and hits lefties well. He’s actually pretty much a platoon player at this point since he doesn’t hit righties much.

    Think of him as the 2009 Tim Raines.

  7. Marty Puccio says:

    Joe Buck’s smug looks toward the camera when his partner is talking makes me want to retch all over my carpet.

  8. swo says:

    I’m just sitting here trying to figure out who “Scott Cashmere” is.

  9. UWS says:

    I think the stupidest part of the exchange that you, Ben, refer to is the fact that there were two outs already. So it was completely irrelevant as to who was on deck – Crawford needed to reach because otherwise THE GAME WAS OVER!!! A point which Buck seemed to rather gloss over.

  10. Mike G. says:

    The argument about bandwagon fans for a team like Tampa Bay is moot in my opinion. Tradition and fan bases and all of that are built around winning, plain and simple. People are not going to shell out money to watch a team notorious for losing if they have no emotional ties to previous winning seasons or titles or star players, etc. I would think this playoff run, even if they lose in the W.S. will establish a stronger T.B. fan base. The players are in the national spotlight now rather than just the local market– seeing evan longoria and bj upton on sportscenter every day can have a huge effect on a team’s appeal. People always talk about the Cubs as the lovable losers, but seem to forget that there have been 3-4-5 generations of Cubs fans! And they HAD a tradition of winning (16 NL pennants and 2 W.S. titles), so there were plenty of grand-dads passing on their loyalty. I’m sure if you looked at the Mets fan-base prior to 1969 you might see some similarities to this tampa bay team. Give them time and they will have a strong fan base.

    • A rejoinder:

      The Atlanta Braves have been around since the dawn of time, have won a ton, and yet Braves fans are notorious bandwagoners who abandon their team at the first hint of adversity.

      In fact, if you look at all of the southern cities that have pro sports (Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio*, Memphis, Nashville, Charlotte), the only sport that seems to get constant support is football (pro and college). Southerners just don’t care about baseball or basketball enough to invest in a team unless they’re already in the World Series or the Finals, when it’s an “event”.


      *-On second thought, take San Antonio off the list. That town has always been Spurs Crazy. Probably cause it’s the only game in town for miles.

  11. TurnTwo says:

    I heard an argument yesterday about Rays fans, and how people were saying they were all frauds, etc., bc they havent been there in the 10 previous seasons.

    but one thing that was pointed out that makes some sense is that most middle-aged men (and women) who lived down in the area probably grew up rooting for another team… it takes a lot for a fan to just give up allegiance to support the new team in town, especially if they are losing.

    so when you look to the fan base, its going to be made up from kids who were 8-12 years old, who now 10 years later, can maybe call this team their own as 18-22 year olds, and now pass on the “tradition” of Rays baseball… they can afford the tickets, make it to games… they’ll be starting their families soon, and raise their kids on Rays baseball in Tampa.

    fan base has to start somewhere… and i can buy this type of scenerio, i guess.

    • Mike G. says:

      makes perfect sense

    • steve (different one) says:

      i kindof agree.

      there is a HUGE difference between being a “bandwagon” Rays fan and a bandwagon Sox or (yes) Yankees fan.

      the Sox have been around for a century and for the most part have always fielded a pretty good team. jumping aboard b/c the team has won a few titles is pretty lame. they have always been there to root for.

      but the Rays have only been around for 10 years and for 9 of those years, they offered a terrible product. there was no reason to become emotionally invested in the team, which for many people involved giving up their already deeply-rooted fandom in another team.

      what was the attendance like in the Bronx in the 80′s and early 90′s? pretty abysmal. what had happened in Baltimore? there are tons of people who have been following the Orioles for decades, but when the product stinks for long stretches, people stop coming to the ballpark. this is true in Tampa, New York, Baltimore, wherever.

      • A.D. says:

        difference between showing up and following. I always follow the Yankees, but I’ll definitely pay to go to more game when they’re winning.

        The bandwagoning of the rays will be determined if fans stick. If the ppl that hopped on this season are still there 5 years from now, its all good.

  12. Casey says:

    CIVIl PROCEDURE?!?!?!?!

    Dude, don’t do it. Law school is evil. If you’re a 1L quit now. Take it from someone who knows.

  13. A.D. says:

    My favorite McCarver moment was “the slider and sinker are different pitches”

    Seriously, for the world series this is the best, come on folks

  14. Bo says:

    Complaining about broadcasters? Yawn worthy.

    We won 4 titles with those guys doing games. They are fine by me.

  15. Pete says:

    You should consider signing up for XM/Sirius, Ben — I had the option of flipping between the Rays, Phillies and national ESPN broadcasts.

    I turned to the Tampa crew when the Rays had a rally going, and I flipped back to the Philly team in the bottom of the 9th when it was looking like they would put it away…

    good stuff!

  16. Fun Fact of the Day Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Fact of the Day:

    Joe Maddon is from Hazleton, PA. Other notable Hazeltonians:

    Former Knicks coach and current crazyman Hubie Brown (uhh-KAY!)
    Jack “Mr. One Arm Pushup” Palance
    Judy Nathan, wife of Rudy “Mr. Noun+Verb+911″ Guliani
    Neal Wood Jr., the guy who invented thought up the idea of the rumble strips on highways
    Amber Lee Ettinger, a/k/a “I’ve Got A Crush On Obama” Girl (piñata)

  17. AD says:

    What the Bandwagon Red Saaawks Fans need to realize is that in the Grand Scheme of things things, The Sox ain’t won shit…. Never had a Dynasty, never will and have one 3 Championships in the last 90 years. I am looking forward to all of the Band Wagoner’s over the next few years to dissapear into obscurity just like the “red sox nation” will.

    So happy the Rays won, was almost certain that the umps would have the best interest of the game (i.e TV ratings) ratings on their mind in game 7 and assist the Sawwks into another W.S

  18. [...] much as we don’t like to comment on rumors from The Post, in an earlier thread today, Steve noted a brief piece in Alexander Hamilton’s paper suggesting that the Yanks are interested in Mike [...]

  19. RustyJohn says:

    It is good to see that law school has already indoctinated you to the point where you parse Joe Buck’s sentences down this level. It may come in handy someday- I once got a criminal case dismissed over the definition of “damages”- my client was charged with malicious mischief for shitting in someone’s yard- since the state couldn’t show a decrease in value of the property (damages) as a result of her taking a dump, it was tossed.

    Someday you too will look back at your expensive law schooling and say, “Wow! I spent all that money so I could argue The Great Yard Shitting Case of ‘Ought-Four.”

  20. Mrs. Peterson-Kekich says:

    “college outside of Philadelphia” — I may have asked this before, but did you go to Swarthmore?

    – Mrs P-K ’82

    • Ben K. says:

      I did indeed go to Swat. Class of 05 for me.

      • Mrs. Peterson-Kekich says:

        One of my fondest memories was in the old social center (Tarble, which burned down in the mid-80s) — it had the one big screen TV on campus.

        Fall of ’78, my freshman year, the room was packed for The Game — about 50-50 between Yankee and Red Sox fans. At that point, I barely knew any other students. After Bucky fouled one off his foot, the Sox fan next to me remarked, “He doesn’t have to run, since he’ll be walking back to the dugout after he strikes out.” To which I replied, “No, he’ll be walking around the bases after he hits it out.”

        We all know the rest of the story . . .

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