How's your health these days?
All good. I have a clean bill of health, knock on wood. But it was a heck of a year, and I'm better because of it.
You were unable to elevate your voice for some time. You would go hoarse. How scary was it to go through something like that?
Very scary. I didn't know if (my voice) would ever come back to normal. Doctors can tell you that it should, but it's not always easy to believe when you're the one going through it. "Should'' doesn't always compute. "Should'' sometimes becomes "won't.'' That's kind of what I was dealing with. Yeah, very scary.
You said that you're better because of it. How so?
Now that I'm back and healthy, it's something I don't worry about anymore, and I really appreciate how lucky I am to be doing what I'm doing. Not that I didn't before. It's just that it was a challenge, and I wouldn't want to go through it again. But you know, everyone in life goes through stuff. This was mine, and I'm fortunate and appreciative for everything I have now.
You have baseball and football games with teams from the same two markets this weekend. Does that happen very often for you?
I don't know that it has ever happened before. If it has, I can't recall it.
Take me through the preparation for doing a baseball game one day and a football game the next. I imagine the football takes more prep work.
It does. I try to split my time each day working on both. It's not like I work on baseball on Monday and then football on Tuesday and so forth. I try to put in a couple of hours on baseball and then move on to football. That way I can keep track each day and not fall behind on either.
For baseball, would you pay more attention to, say, the Rays series last week against the Orioles than normal?
Absolutely. If this was June, I don't know that I could tell you who the winning and losing pitchers were or who had the big hit as much I could now. So I'm paying attention to the teams a lot closer.
Do you talk a lot with Tim McCarver and Troy Aikman during the week?
Well, Troy and I will text each other lot. I can't text with Tim. Tim doesn't text. I'm better off sending smoke signals and sending up a pterodactyl. But we've been doing games together for 17 years now, so we fall right back into it even if we haven't seen each other or talked in a few weeks. The chemistry is great with both. For example, I'll throw out a reference like Foo Fighters. Tim has no idea who the Foo Fighters are. Neither does Troy, probably. I need to say Kenny Chesney to get his attention. But both are such pros and we're so comfortable around one another that we are able to work together well.
How similar are Tim and Troy to work with?
Extremely similar. Their work ethic is amazing, and it's what made them great players in their sports. I can tell you that I know now why Troy won three Super Bowls, and it's not just because of his accuracy and arm strength. I see what he does to prepare for a game and you know why he's a success. And Tim is at a point that he could just walk in a minute before the broadcast and wing it, but he doesn't do it that way. He continues to work hard. He still loves the game.
Your dad was a great baseball announcer, but maybe people don't realize how much football he called. You call both. Do you have a preference?
My dad did call a lot of football, and in my opinion, he was the best football announcer on radio ever. The sports are just so different, but I love doing both. I have two daughters, and it's like asking me which one I love more. You can't choose. The NFL is such a big spotlight. Saturday afternoon baseball game of the week is such a slower pace but enjoyable, too.
Is there anything better than postseason baseball?
To me, no, there is nothing like that.
Your dad called St. Louis Cardinals games, and the Cardinals used to have spring training in St. Petersburg, so you spent a lot of time here as a kid, didn't you?
I did. I was actually born in St. Pete, at St. Anthony's (Hospital).
So you know the area and baseball. Are you surprised baseball has struggled in terms of attendance?
Well, I think it's the venue that's the problem. It was originally built to attract a team like the White Sox. I remember driving to Al Lang Stadium with my dad when I was younger and seeing (Tropicana Field) going up and wondering about the location and venue. The funny thing is, I've done postseason games there, and it's a great place for us to call a game. Being one who is paid to be there, I am not one to tell others they should pay or not pay to go to games there. … But I do think the venue is the big reason why baseball has struggled there.
What are your thoughts on the Rays and what they've accomplished over the past few years?
What they've done with their payroll is unmatched in major-league baseball. I read an article where (White Sox owner) Jerry Reinsdorf said something like, "You have to spend money to be successful in baseball except in Tampa, because those guys must be geniuses.''
Finally, you're doing the Bucs-Giants game. What do you think of new coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs?
What a great start last week. Changing the culture is hard to do. I know in St. Louis, Jeff Fisher is trying to do the same thing with the Rams, and I know the Rams loved Schiano when they talked to him. It seems like a good fit (for Schiano) in Tampa Bay. I like that he makes guys accountable. You better have the right priorities there or you'll be gone, as we've already seen. You get older guys like Ronde Barber to buy in and you have a heck of a draft and it's onward and upward, for sure.
tom jones' two cents
Fox broadcaster Joe Buck is having a Tampa Bay-New York weekend. The network's lead baseball announcer called Saturday's Rays-Yankees game at Yankee Stadium with Tim McCarver. Today, Buck, 43, switches to his gig as the network's lead football announcer to call the Bucs-Giants game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey with Troy Aikman. • Buck, the son of legendary broadcaster Jack Buck, talked with the Tampa Bay Times' Tom Jones about being born in St. Petersburg, baseball in Tampa Bay, why he likes Bucs coach Greg Schiano and the vocal chord virus that threatened his career a year ago.