BOSTON -- So what exactly does go on in the TV booth when the mics are off?
Banter between broadcasters? Check. Filling out the scorebook? Check. Double-checking to make sure no spinach is stuck in the teeth? Check.
Sing Johnny Cash?
If you're Joe Buck, that is.
Buck, the lead postseason announcer on FOX, has a funny little tradition few know about. In the minutes leading up to first pitch, he sings "Ring of Fire," sort of as a way to keep things loosey-goosey prior to going on the air.
He doesn't remember exactly when this ritual started, but as some point in the last 18 years he's been broadcasting games for FOX, it became a regular thing. Audio engineer Joe Carpenter queues up the ditty, and Buck belts out a few bars.
"I'm sure the crew wants to throw up," Buck said. "They're rolling their eyes. But it's like our little tradition, and we're not messing with tradition."
Buck categorized "Ring of Fire" as his go-to song when he's karaoking -- yes, apparently, Buck has been known to take to the stage from time to time -- and while he's not a "professional" karaoke singer, "I won't embarrass myself at a bar," he said. "That's kind of my one to sing."
In the booth, he tries to keep his outbursts sporadic.
"I don't really sing the whole thing," he said. "I'll sing bits and pieces. Then I'll be thinking about something, then I'll go back to it."
The notes and the tune have a familiarity, however, that just makes him feel at home. When he hears those first few bars, he knows it's on.
"Now," he said, "It's postseason game time.