Fox baseball announcer Joe Buck still has a way to go to match his father, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, in the tell-it-like-it-is department, but he's getting there. Take his reaction to Yankee Stadium official scorer Red Foley's decision to give New York Yankees slugger Tino Martinez a base hit on a muffed grounder by Texas Rangers second baseman Luis Alicea in the first inning of last Saturday's game.
After correctly pointing out that Alicea had tripped over his own two feet while drifting to his right to field a routine grounder, Buck opined that too many official scorers today were reluctant to issue errors because they were "intimidated" by players, especially those on the home team. "A lot of times the official scorer will be a hometown scorer and will give a base hit when an error should be scored," Buck said. ( Martinez, it should be noted, did not try to influence Foley.) As Buck continued his lecture, Fox's TV cameras showed Foley, a former New York Daily News sports writer, watching the broadcast in the press box, scowling.
Buck could not be more correct. Baseball's scorers have contributed to more grade inflation in recent years than Ivy League professors. With stats-minded players routinely protesting calls—Rangers slugger Juan Gonzalez stood at second base glaring up at the scorer during a game earlier this season—who can blame them?
Baseball must give its scorers the protection they need to do their job. Don't allow players to phone them from the dugout during games or harangue them on the field during batting practice. And be glad there are announcers like Buck, who care enough about the game to point out the errors of its ways.