By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)
Canadian Baseball Network
Buck Martinez and his on-air sidekick Pat 'Tabby' Tabler are a bit of an inside joke among Blue Jays fans. When the team is winning, we poke fun at them good-naturedly, and when the team is losing... Well, sometimes we're forced to mute our TV sets. At times they're merely incorrect, other times they're downright silly (when discussing Yogi Berra's service in WW2, Tabby referred to the D-Day invasion as happening in Norway rather than Normandy - twice - before correcting himself).
They can be accused of loving visiting players a wee bit too much (*ahem* Evan Longoria), and may get rather repetitive during the lulls in the game. But when something exciting happens, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that Buck isn't just as thrilled as we are.
That's why I grew to miss him and his familiar style during the playoffs, when MLB requires a 'neutral party' announce all games, rather than each team's home broadcasters.
Dissing of Canadians aside, Harold Reynolds and Joe Buck (no relation) left a lot to be desired. From repeating the falsehood that Mexican pitcher Roberto Osuna was from Cuba to just sounding too bloody excited whenever the Royals scored, Jays fans were overall unhappy with the commentators we were forced to listen to for 11 games. FOX Sports has since announced they won't be back (when the Jays hopefully make the playoffs again) this year.
So while we wait for a new season full of Buck-isms to be upon us, I've compiled a list of my personal favourite calls of his from the past year. Unfortunately, we're left to only imagine how he would have called Jose Bautista's three-run homer in Game 5 of the ALDS, but I'm willing to bet there would have been an 'Oh my!' involved.
#10 - "How 'bout that for number one?" - April 6th
There's no moment for a young player sweeter than that of his first home run. ForDevon Travis, this came on Opening Day at Yankee stadium. It was his first career hit, after walking in his first at-bat. Buck went from surprised to joyful to sounding rather proud of the rookie, as he used his trademark 'Get up!' for the first time in the season.
#9 - "Ryan Goins has walked off the Indians!" - Sept. 1st
A hero came from the unlikeliest of places in the Jays' lineup as, tied 3-3 in the 10th and with Ezequiel Carrera on first, Ryan Goins launched a towering shot to right field. Buck can be accused of giving us false hope on many occasions with regard to 'homers' that turn into pop-outs, but he knew this one was gone from the moment it left the bat. And by the sound of it, so did the crowd, as they nearly drowned him out.
#8 - "Here comes Donaldson home! And he's safe!" - Sept. 2nd
While I was at home having a heart attack over Donaldson tagging up and divinginto home on a Tulowitzki popout, Buck managed to find words to describe it. Risk-taker, play-maker, indeed. It's so very typical of the 2015 Blue Jays to have already scored four runs and gone through the order once by the second inning, isn't it?
The immediate change in Buck's voice from calm and factual to loud and excited also speaks to just how unexpected that move was on Donaldson's part. I suppose the MVP felt like showing off for the fans.
#7 - "He's done it again!" - Sept. 27th
The perfect end to the regular season at home - I think the best part of this call is how Buck kind of predicted it right before it happened, and then didn't even sound surprised. Almost like 'of course he just did that, he's Josh Donaldson!'
#6 - "Swing and a drive! Get up! Get up - GONE!" - September 23rd
Russell Martin's three-run bomb was 'the second most exciting homer in Blue Jays history' for only about three weeks, and yes, that french guy definitely did it better. But the fact that Buck had to SCREAM to be heard over the noise of the crowd makes this one amazing. That, coupled with how close a game it was until that point, led to a sense of relief and excitement like no other. We knew we were finally pulling ahead in the pennant race for good.
#5 - "He got him!" - September 21st
That was a tense inning, as you can tell from the noise of the crowd and how relieved they were to strand two Yankees on base. Another indicator would be the normally-stoic Brett Cecil pumping his fist and yelling as he came off the mound. Buck was just as thrilled as we were.
#4 - "You can't throw him out of the game for that!" - August 2nd
This is an interesting inclusion on the list, because it's not a call of something Jays fans were happy about - in fact it's not a play-by-play at all - but I love it so much because for one moment, Buck became just another one of us at home, yelling at our TV screens. And in that moment, I found a new fondness for the man.
We all remember this day in August, when a lot of tension between the Jays and the Royals finally came to an ugly head, with several plunkings, both attempted and successful, happening in the same game. Well, none of the Royals pitchers were punished, but Aaron Sanchez had to take the blame, according to umpire Jim Wolf. The benches cleared, and it seemed like Buck would have liked to be on the field with them, perhaps backing up the coaches in protest, as he shouted "That's awful!"
#3 - "He'll get there - dives in and CAUGHT IT!" - June 24th
Marco Estrada's perfect game bid was still intact when Josh Donaldson made this dive that would have broken the bones of lesser third basemen. I remember staring agape at my TV as I watched it live, not at all able to believe my eyes. It sounded like Buck couldn't believe his, either. And of course, because he's Buck, he had to invoke The Captain in complimenting Josh on his play.
#2 - "WELCOME TO TORONTO, TROY TULOWITZKI!" - July 29th
That was an exciting week. That was an exciting day. That moment was the most exciting of all of them, as Tulo clobbered his first hit as a Blue Jay and made it very clear he was one of us. And Buck, caught up in that excitement, downright hollered.
#1 - "At the track, jumps and - oh my! - He's got it!" - April 15th
I have unashamedly watched this Kevin Pillar clip so many times that I know the entire Buck & Tabby exchange by heart. This is my absolute favourite because of the astonishment from both of them, the inclusion of the classic 'Oh my!' and the way he closes it out, with a slightly bewildered, yet approving "Do it all, Kevin!"
Here's hoping we have plenty more memorable calls this season. Did I miss any of your favourites? Let me know in the comments! And as always, thanks for reading!