By JOHN COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002
Joe Buck is back.
When the baseball playoffs opened on Tuesday, Buck was back in the booth with partner Tim McCarver for the first time since July 27. The No. 1 play-by-play man for Fox has been heading the network's No. 1 football team, but a playoff return for baseball is good news for viewers.
In his first game back, Buck made a smooth transition from gridiron to diamond. He thinks the time away from McCarver -- they have done games since 1996 -- could make for a fresh postseason rapport.
"I'm kind of reenergized to jump back into baseball," Buck said. "When you do week after week with the same guy, you tend to start to see things the same way, you tend to repeat yourself. I think anything but routine is good in these playoffs. If we can come at it with a little fresh perspective, I think that's going to be good for us."
Buck will do one more football game Sunday before concentrating solely on baseball through the World Series. In fact, he'll pull double duty Sunday, calling the Rams-49ers game in San Francisco and either the Braves-Giants or Twins-Oakland game that night.
"I'm looking forward to that probably because I'm either dumb or arrogant thinking I can do both in one day," he said. "I don't act like it's something that deserves a big slap on the back or pat on the head. I think it's fun."
Buck said he'll just lay back and "try not to dominate the thing." It'll be a long day, but not one you'll catch him complaining about.
"I think my dad (legendary announcer Jack Buck) would have been very understated about it," Buck said. "And if I had called after that day was over, usually my mom would be the first to pick up, and I'd say, "Oh, boy, I'm worn out.' And he'd get on the phone and say "You're worn out? I didn't yawn until I was 50.' "
OT, ANYONE?: Kenny Albert and Tim Green will handle the Bucs game on Fox against Atlanta.
The duo, TV's longest-running NFL broadcast team (seventh season together), called the Bucs first game this season, a loss to New Orleans in overtime.
In Albert and Green's past 16 games, seven have been tied after regulation, including last weekend's Chicago-Buffalo game.
NEW NO. 1: With Buck moving to baseball full time after this weekend, Dick Stockton will join Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth on Fox's No. 1 team, while Albert slides in at No. 2 to work with Stockton's regular partner, Daryl Johnston.
TOP RATINGS: NFL games played between Sept. 23-29 were the top-rated program in 17 NFL markets, up from 10 markets in Week 4 last season.
Two of the 17 games that ranked No. 1 in their markets were Bucs games. The Rams-Bucs game Sept. 23 was tops in Tampa/St. Petersburg with a 33.2 rating, and Sunday's win over Cincinnati drew 32.3.
MOUTH OF THE SOUTH: Keyshawn Johnson was miked during the Cincinnati game, and the sounds of the loquacious Bucs receiver can be heard on HBO's Inside the NFL at 7 tonight, and at 11 a.m. Saturday.
One highlight shows Johnson jawing with Bengal Tony Williams moments after an excited Williams got to quarterback Brad Johnson.
"Shut up. All that screaming. Play football. Man, you a fake-a-- John Randle. Sorry Brad, I'm gonna get you killed."
Clips from Keyshawn's performance will also be shown on NFL Under the Helmet Sunday on Fox.
SEC STUFF: ESPN's The Season, which takes viewers behind the scenes with athletes and teams, aired the first of a 12-part series chronicling college football in the Southeastern Conference at midnight Thursday.
That will be the slot for the rest of the series. The schedule for October has been released, but Florida is not on it. The remainder of the schedule has not been announced.
TOP SHOT: After McCarver told the audience he was certain Anaheim manager Mike Sciosia was going to bring in Troy Percival in the eighth inning of Wednesday's game against New York, cameras showed the Angels closer shaking his head and then shrugging at bullpen catch Orlando Mercado when Brendan Donnelly got the call.