Few can command a soapbox like Joe Buck. The inimitable Fox broadcaster, who can make any sporting event an allegory for his personal values and opinions (not saying that's good or bad; it's just what he does), gave one of his usual sermons Tuesday criticizing baseball players who opted not to attend the All-Star Game in Phoenix.
In this case, though, Buck had evidence.
"Willie Mays had some interesting quotes today in the Wall Street Journal with regard to guys not showing up for this All-Star Game," Buck said on the telecast. "He said, 'I was rewarded 24 times as an All-Star, and I went 24 times. It's not jury duty. Guys should show up."
Hooray! No more hedging by Bud Selig, who was reportedly "disappointed" in Derek Jeter deciding not to attend the game but held a news conference later in which Selig said he really wasn't disappointed. These are strong words from the greatest living player.
I spend more than 8 hours a day glued to a desk chair, in front of a computer, with Firefox, Twitter and Facebook open all day. When Buck told this story, it was between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. (I didn't check the clock.)
So while my first reaction was, "Go Willie!", my second reaction was, "How did I not hear about this earlier?
Sports blogger Larry Brown got to the bottom of it.
The "interview" never happened, as it turns out. The story in question was a fictitious account by Jason Gay of what Mays might say to any players who bowed out of the All-Star game. You can read it here and see it's fairly obvious the conversations are fake.
As Brown writes, "That's like me writing on [larrybrownsports.com], 'You know what Pete Rose would say to these guys who aren't taking the All-Star Game seriously? He'd punch them in the face and say, 'There's never going to be a bigger game in your life' and then having Joe Buck cite LBS and repeat that line on national TV."
It's usually unfair to criticize an announcer for what he says. Announcers spend their lives talking for hours at a time and need ample assistance from staff to supply them with statistics, injury updates and interesting anecdotes like the Mays story. So Buck might not be solely to blame.
Except… Who quotes something they didn't read firsthand? Even if it's accurate, it doesn't seem like a good practice. I think we all know how Pete Rose would react to such a transgression.
After all, he said so in this great interview with Larry Brown Sports.
Fictional Willie Mays says to read NESN.com every day. It's not jury duty.
–Milwaukee Brewers slugger and All-Star Game MVP Prince Fielder, when asked if he would pick Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton for the Home Run Derby team after two days of booing from the Arizona fans.
Agreed on both counts.
Once again, Kate Upton, ladies and gentlemen!