Sunday, December 6, 2020

Statistics Behind Joe Buck's 400 NFL Games

 A pair of NFL broadcasting stalwarts and Fox Sports originals hit career milestones in Weeks 12 and 13 as late November turns to early December. Joe Buck became the 18th person and 10th play-by-play announcer to call 400 NFL telecasts on Thanksgiving, while Sunday, Dec. 6, will be Kevin Harlan’s 450th NFL telecast, making him the 12th person and seventh play-by-play announcer to that point.

This post will focus on Buck; Harlan’s will come soon after, once we see that he did in fact work a game this week in the age of COVID.

(Yes, this Buck post is a week or so after the fact. We were thinking about how Buck calls Thursday Night Football and the Thursday night game between Pittsburgh and Baltimore was postponed; of course, on Thanksgiving, the TNF crew calls a game in the afternoon.)

Buck is 51 and has been with Fox since 1994, which means that his 27 seasons as an NFL and/or MLB announcer constitute the majority of his life. In truth, he’s probably closer to 22 NFL seasons, having called just 16 games total between 1996 and 2001, and Fox didn’t gain MLB rights until 1996, which means he has 25 years under his belt there.

Buck spent two seasons (1994-95) working alongside Tim Green before pairing with Bill Maas for part-time duty in 1996 and 1997. In 2001, he partnered Brian Baldinger for four games.

2002 brought the semi-retirement of Pat Summerall and saw Buck elevated to Fox’s lead team with Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth. The Buck-Aikman duo has covered 19 years of Thanksgiving games and 18 years of playoffs, with the 19th set coming here in a month or so. Collinsworth moved to NBC and NFL Network in 2005, while Pam Oliver gave way to Erin Andrews as the A-team sideline reporter in 2014.

Through Thanksgiving 2020, Buck and Aikman have called 352 games together, the most of any NFL pairing except Summerall and John Madden. Collinsworth joined them for 55 games.

Buck’s 60 NFL playoff games are the joint third-most by a play-by-play announcer (Summerall 82, Al Michaels 61 and Dick Enberg 60). Aikman has worked each of those games; he also called the final game at old Soldier Field, the Bears-Eagles divisional tilt in January 2002, alongside Dick Stockton.

In 19 years, Buck and Aikman have called six Super Bowls (XXXIX, XLII, XLV, XLVIII, LI and LIV).

Buck has seen the Packers the most in his career, calling 93 of their games, closely followed by the Cowboys with 90. The Giants (72) and Eagles (64) make up the rest of his Mount Rushmore. He’s done every team’s game at least twice, but has never worked a Dolphins game on Sunday afternoon and didn’t get the Bills between Nov. 20, 1994, and Oct. 19, 2020.

Among the 52 stadiums in which Buck has worked, Lambeau Field (34) is the most common followed by Cowboys/AT&T Stadium (51). Five of his top 10 facilities are in the NFC East (including Giants Stadium and Texas Stadium but not FedEx Field) and three others are in the NFC North.

While the NFL TV contracts come up for rearrangement after the 2022 season, which makes it tough to do much micro-level predicting past that point, Buck should pass Paul Maguire by then to move into the top 16 NFL announcers overall. Moving up on the charts is kind of difficult when the two men immediately ahead of him are Aikman, who works just as many games, and Jim Nantz, who has the same workload at another network.

That will do it for this Joe Buck statistics post. If you're in Oregon, southern California, New England or Buffalo, tune in to CBS for Kevin Harlan's 450th game in the late slot today.

Until next time, good night, good luck and don't run with scissors.

(Photo above is a Fox publicity photo so that this shows up with an image on the social media sites.)

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Joe Buck's 1000th Game And Other Stories

 Has it really been most of a month since we did the announcer milestones update? Well, things have to slow down now, with all three tennis majors over for the year and a maximum of 10 MLB games left.

And since we do these in chronological order, consider the lead (the big round number of the day) buried.

Announcer totals here are complete through end of day Friday, Oct. 16.

  1. September 23: Mark Jackson calls his 550th national NBA telecast in Game 4 of the Celtics-Heat series. He's the ninth person to that milestone overall and the fourth color commentator to get there, trailing Hubie Brown, Jeff Van Gundy and Doug Collins.
  2. September 23: Mike Emrick calls his 1,074th national NHL telecast between the U.S. and Canada, tying longtime Hockey Night in Canada analyst Harry Neale for the seventh-most appearances on the sport between the two countries. Emrick passes Neale two days later with game number 1,075.
  3. September 24: With Game 4 of the Lakers-Nuggets series, Brian Anderson calls his 117th national NBA telecast, passing Dan Shulman for no. 16 on the PBP announcer list.
  4. September 25: The Cubs-White Sox game is Rick Sutcliffe's 577th national MLB telecast as a color commentator, which passes John Madden for 12th-most among the four major U.S. sports. Including Hockey Night in Canada, Sutcliffe is 17th among analysts.
  5. September 25: Jim Hughson calls his 1,300th telecast in our records (this includes a bunch of Canadian NHL games, several American NHL games and a solitary MLB telecast). He's the fifth person to get to the 1,300 plateau (trailing Bob Cole, Dick Stockton, Marv Albert and Pierre McGuire).
  6. September 26: The Phillies play the Rays on the last weekend of the MLB regular season, but more importantly John Smoltz calls his 400th national MLB telecast. He's the 17th person to reach that mark (more on 400 below) and the fifth color man to get there (behind Joe Morgan, Tim McCarver, Tony Kubek and Sutcliffe).
  7. September 26: The Stanley Cup Final plays on back-to-back days and Jim Hughson calls his 1,300th NHL game in our records between the U.S. and Canada. The only other two people to have done that are Bob Cole and Pierre McGuire.
  8. September 27: The Moose gets loose and Daryl Johnston breaks down his 350th NFL game as the 49ers play the Giants on Fox. He's the 21st NFL game-caller to reach the 350 mark and the seventh analyst to get there (Madden, Dierdorf, Simms, Maguire, Aikman and Collinsworth got there first).
  9. September 27: For the first time, the Las Vegas Raiders make an appearance in these pages as they play the Patriots in Massachusetts. CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz handles the play-by-play of his 400th NFL game, the ninth PBP man and 16th person overall to do that. (Michaels, Stockton, Criqui, Summerall, Jones, Enberg, Harlan and Kenny Albert were the first eight PBP men. If you knew that ... wow.)
  10. September 27: The final game of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals ends in a tie ... in the announcer listings. Jeff Van Gundy calls his 708th national game, all as an NBA color man, tying Gary Green of hockey fame for 12th-most in our aggregated color commentator rankings. JVG finishes the pass with Game 1 of the Finals on Sept. 30.
  11. September 28: The last game of the NHL season sees Ed Olczyk call his 771st national telecast, matching the number handled by Pat Summerall in our records. They share 19th place on our American big-four-sports list until next season starts (or we adjust some historical records). 
  12. October 4: Pam Oliver becomes the first NFL sideline reporter to work 450 games when the Browns play the Cowboys. Only 10 people have appeared on more NFL telecasts than Oliver.
  13. October 5: Here's how long Pam Oliver has been a fixture on NFL sidelines. Tracy Wolfson is CBS's lead sideline reporter and has been since 2014. That includes a couple of years where she double-dipped on Sunday and Thursday, and she was with CBS before she moved up to the top team. Wolfson is barely a third of the way to Oliver's total. Her 159th game, the Monday Evening Football special between the Patriots and Chiefs, ties her with Suzy Kolber for fifth-most in NFL history by a sideline reporter (trailing Oliver, Michele Tafoya, Laura Okmin and Armen Keteyian). She finishes the pass with her 160th game, Giants-Cowboys, on Oct. 11.
  14. October 8: Baseball decides to show up on this list again. Matt Vasgersian calls Game 3 of the Dodgers-Padres series on MLB Network, tying Steve Physioc for the 13th-most national telecasts by a play-by-play announcer. They both have 311. They both will for the foreseeable future as this was Vasgersian's last game of the season.
  15. October 8: In that same Dodgers-Padres game 3, John Smoltz calls his 403rd national MLB telecast, matching Gary Thorne for 16th-most on record. The series ended that night, so he wouldn't complete the pass (with game no. 404, matching Atlanta's classic area code) until the NLCS opener on Oct. 12.
  16. October 11: Farther down the NFL sideline reporter list, Jennifer Hale ties Bonnie Bernstein with her 141st game as a reporter, Panthers-Falcons. They share ninth place on that list until Sunday, unless something weird happens.
  17. October 11: One of Fox's original NFL announcers, Kenny Albert, ties Paul Maguire for 13th on the NFL telecasts list with his 428th game as the Eagles meet the Steelers. Albert will break that tie on Sunday, unless something weird happens.
  18. October 12: In addition to the John Smoltz/Atlanta area code thing mentioned in item no. 15, the NLCS opener between the Dodgers and Braves is Tom Verducci's 400th MLB telecast. He's the 18th person to get to that point.
  19. October 13: Tom Verducci's 196th game as a sideline reporter, Braves-Dodgers game 2, ties Heather Cox for 16th on our list in the four major pro sports. He passes her the next night in Game 3.
  20. October 16: Game 5 of the Dodgers-Braves series is the 1,000th time Joe Buck has handled play-by-play for a network NFL or MLB telecast. He is the ninth person overall and seventh PBP man to get there in the U.S.; including Canada he's 17th and 11th respectively.
  21. October 16: Game 5 of the Dodgers-Braves series is also John Smoltz's 408th MLB telecast, tying Curt Gowdy for 15th all-time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Twenty-Five National Television Announcer Milestones From Aug. 23 to Sept. 22

Somewhere around Aug. 23, it looks like we quit updating the Twitter feed as new announcer milestones got reached. That happened for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the unprecedented month-long convergence of all four major pro sports plus MLS.

The record-keeping hasn't stopped, though, and now we present a 24-pack of announcer milestones that happened since then. Plus a bonus one at the end because there were actually 25.

(I really should knock the dust off this blog more often rather than trying to compress everything into 280 characters on Twitter...)

Totals updated through the close of the day on Sept. 20, 2020, and also include Monday Night Football on Sept. 21.

1. August 24:
 Ed Olczyk becomes the sixth person to call 750 American national telecasts of National Hockey League games.

2. August 24: Pierre McGuire calls his 1,300th national NHL telecast between the U.S. and Canada. He's the second person to reach that milestone, trailing Bob Cole. Widening the scope to all four major professional sports, Cole and McGuire are joined in the 1300 club by Marv Albert and Dick Stockton (with Jim Hughson approaching).

3. August 24: McGuire's 1300th game between the U.S. and Canada was also his 909th American national telecast. That tied him with Mike Breen for the 11th-most in our records. (McGuire passed Breen outright with Canucks-Golden Knights on Aug. 25, although "passed" is relative because Breen is very much still active,)

4. August 25: With the Canucks-Golden Knights game, Louie DeBrusk makes his 204th appearance as an NHL colour commentator on a Canadian network. That ties Mickey Redmond for 15th in our records. DeBrusk completes the pass with his 205th game, Avalanche-Stars, the next day.

5. August 26: The Lightning-Bruins game was Olczyk's 750th American national telecast of an NHL game as a color commentator. (The difference between this and no. 1 is that the former listing includes two games as a sideline reporter.)

6. August 26: With Lightning-Bruins, Mike Emrick calls his 1,074th game on our overall master list — all three flavors of announcer, all four major pro sports, including Canada. That ties Harry Neale for 12th on that list. Emrick completes the pass when the two teams meet on Aug. 29.

7. August 26: The Flyers' game against the Islanders is the 894th time that team has appeared on an American network, matching the Red Wings for the most by an NHL team. Philadelphia completes the pass three days later.

8. August 29: The NBC hockey analyst of the present ties NBC's baseball analyst of a generation ago. Ed Olczyk analyzes his 766th game (Lightning-Bruins), matching the number of MLB telecasts with which Tony Kubek is credited. That's tied for 10th-most on our list of analysts across the U.S. and Canada. Edzo completes the pass with Flyers-Islanders the next night. (This milestone counts games on both sides of the international border. There is about to be another, similar milestone counting only U.S. telecasts.)

9. August 30: Baseball breaks into a list that has thus far been a bunch of hockey. Ron Darling becomes the tenth man to call 250 national MLB telecasts as an analyst when he breaks down the Yankees and Mets on TBS.

10. August 30: The Avalanche-Stars game double-dips on the milestone tracker. Kenny Albert calls his 300th NHL telecast for the United States, becoming the 13th person overall and seventh play-by-play announcer to reach that milestone. The game is also his 1,138th on the overall master list (all three flavors of announcer, all four major pro sports, including Canada), tying Scott Oake of Hockey Night in Canada for 10th place. Albert completes the pass of Oake later that night with Golden Knights-Canucks.

11. August 30: Sunday Night Baseball hits the City of Brotherly Love and Matt Vasgersian calls his 300th national MLB telecast as the play-by-play man. He's the 14th man to reach that plateau.

12. September 5: John Forslund becomes the fifth man to handle play-by-play of 350 NHL telecasts for an American national audience when he calls Islanders-Flyers. He's the 14th person to get there if you include Canada, and the 11th person to get to 350 American NHL games in any flavor of commentary.

13. September 5: With no regard for human life, the Nuggets-Lakers game is the 1,200th appearance by Kevin Harlan on our American master list (all three flavors of announcer, all four major pro sports, but not including Canada). All of those appearances are as the play-by-play announcer, and he's the third person to reach that milestone, behind Dick Stockton and Marv Albert. If you expand to Canada, he's fifth, also trailing Bob Cole and Jim Hughson. If you expand to color/colour commentators and include Canada, Pierre McGuire also tops him (see no. 2).

14. September 7: Craig Simpson calls his 850th NHL telecast in Canada, all as the colour commentator. The game in question is Islanders-Lightning. He's the third colour man to 850, trailing Harry Neale and Dick Irvin, and the eighth to 850 in Canada overall.

15. September 9: Jeff Van Gundy analyzes his 700th NBA national telecast, becoming the sixth person to broadcast 700 NBA games and the first person not named Hubie Brown to do color on that many.

16. September 11: John Forslund ties Dave Randorf for 13th on the NHL play-by-play list combining the U.S. and Canada. His 353rd game, bringing him level, is Lightning-Islanders on the 11th. His 354th game, completing the pass, is Golden Knights-Stars the next night.

17. September 11: Reggie Miller ties Mike Fratello for the fifth-most appearances on national television as an NBA game analyst, working his 517th game when the Nuggets play the Clippers. With the break between series, it takes him a week to finish the pass, until the 18th, by which time the Nuggets are playing the Lakers. Fratello was also holding down the no. 10 spot on the NBA's overall leaderboard, which Reggie now holds as well.

18. September 13: With her first NFL game of the season, Cardinals-49ers at Levi's Stadium, Laura Okmin passes Al Trautwig for 18th place on our master American sideline reporter list (all four major pro sports). The appearance is Okmin's 191st and also allows her to tie Tom Verducci for no. 17; she passes Verducci with the Rams-Eagles game a week later.

19. September 13: The leading lady of Sunday Night Football, Michele Tafoya, makes her 492nd appearance on our American sideline reporter list (all four major pro sports). That ties Jim Gray for fourth-most, trailing Craig Sager, Ken Rosenthal and Lisa Salters. Tafoya passes Gray a week later with Patriots-Seahawks.

20: September 14: Lisa Salters ties Bonnie Bernstein for the seventh-most sideline appearances in NFL TV records with her 141st on the Titans-Broncos game. She finishes the pass with the second week of Monday Night Football on Sept. 21.

21. September 15: Brian Boucher ties Joe Micheletti for sixth place on the American NHL analyst list with his 267th game. He passes Micheletti two days later. Both games are Islanders-Lightning.

22. September 17: Combining totals between the U.S. and Canada, Ed Olczyk ties former Hockey Night in Canada lead man Bill Hewitt with his 780th national telecast. Olczyk equalizes with the final Islanders-Lightning game, then passes Hewitt for 16th outright on Sept. 19 ... speaking of which ...

23. September 19: The opener of the Stanley Cup Final is Mike Emrick's 1050th game as a play-by-play announcer on our master list (all four major pro sports including Canada), He's the ninth person to get there.

24. September 22: With Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Final, Brian Anderson calls his 116th national NBA telecast. That ties Dan Shulman for 16th among play-by-play announcers.

25. September 22: Rick Sutcliffe, ESPN's most experienced MLB analyst, calls his 576th national telecast; John Madden also called 576 national NFL telecasts during a career that spanned all four major broadcast networks from 1979-2008. The two men are tied for 12th on the analyst leaderboard across all four major pro sports and will be until Sutcliffe works again. Sutcliffe's total is also fourth-most among MLB color guys, falling in a big gap between Tony Kubek (766) and John Smoltz (398).

Regular Twitter service will now resume.