Taco Bell is teaming up with Major League Baseball once again, making it possible for me to talk with Joe Buck this morning to discuss the 2012 Steal a Base campaign and, of course, the upcoming World Series between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants.
MLB and Taco Bell are teaming up to give everyone in America the chance to get the best-selling taco of 2012 for free.
In its biggest MLB promotion of the year, Taco Bell’s “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco,” will reward everyone in the U.S. with the opportunity to enjoy a free Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos if any player steals a base during the World Series, which begins this Wednesday, October 24, at 8 p.m. on FOX.
In this interview Buck and I discussed the campaign, his favorite players to watch, his predictions for the World Series and even what it was like to lose his voice last year.
CB: First things first: This is the ninth year that Taco Bell has partnered with Major League Baseball and the sixth year giving away free tacos during the World Series. It is the third time for Taco Bell’s “Steal a Base" campaign. Can you tell me a little bit about the campaign?
JB: It's about the easiest campaign for people to understand in the history of campaigns. Anybody steals a base in this World Series, everybody in America gets a free taco. It doesn't get any more simple than that.
It is Steal a Base, Steal a Taco; fans can visit mlb.com/stealataco for more information. We've done it before. Jacoby Ellsbury stole a base back when the Red Sox did it in '07.
It's fun, if you can't identify with Taco Bell, a long time sponsor of Major League Baseball, then I don't wanna be your friend.
CB: Speaking of 2007, that year the Red Sox and Rockies made history stealing 14 bases, do you think the players were inspired to give America free tacos?
JB: I don't know. I give them (Taco Bell) credit for bringing it back. We're coming off of a NLCS that Yadier Molina and the Cardinals shut down the running game of the Giants.
They didn't steal a base in the whole series. That's all history now and we're into the next series. I think that odds are we'll all get a free taco.
CB: You’ve been Fox Sports’ lead play-by-play man since 1996. In that time, what has been your favorite World Series moment to call personally?
JB: They say you don't ever forget your first and I believe that. When I was a kid, even though I didn't think I was a kid at 27, I was at New York and the Yankees were down two games to none to come back and win; it was amazing.
That was the start of the Joe Torre, (Derek) Jeter, (Mariano) Rivera and (Jorge) Posada and all those guys, (Andy) Pettitte, that was something that I never thought I would get the chance to do and then I got that opportunity and that was life-changing for me, to get through that and not feel like I blew it.
Which, that is what you're always worried about going into a series.
Then, 2001 was unbelievable after 9/11, that series went seven games between the Yankees and the Diamondbacks.
And, last year, Game Six when David Freese stepped up and the Cardinals showing their resilience and winning that series as a team that nobody picked. In mid-August everyone thought they were out of it and then came back to win it all.
I think those are the three that stand out the most to me.
CB: Last year you almost lost your voice. From that you had a considerable rehab process. With your voice and career on the line do you feel you understand athletes even better now than before?
JB: Yeah it's funny, you're actually the first person to ask me that. I understand how it feels when you're not 100 percent and trying to perform. I think I am more sympathetic than I was before last year because of that.
Guys that have had Tommy John or guys like (Marco) Scutaro who get crunched in the first inning of Game 2, came back and had an unbelievable series and didn't feel great.
Sometimes you have to go out and do your best at less than 100 percent. That was a good learning experience for me. It makes you realize you don't ever take things, especially your health, for granted.
CB: Growing up around baseball and having ties to such a great organization as the St. Louis Cardinals you’ve been fortunate to have witnessed a lot of great teams over the years. Can you tell me what your favorite World Series moment of all time is?
JB: Because of the way you led into the question, and I've said this in front of groups since it happened, made speeches, whatever, maybe the best sporting event I've ever witnessed, forget broadcast, Game 6 last year.
I say that as somebody from St. Louis, but I can tell you, it wouldn't matter where I came from, sitting there, calling that; those are the moments you can go an entire career and never see.
A team down to its last strike more than once, coming back in the ninth, coming back in the tenth, winning in the eleventh; those games, if you tried to sell it in Hollywood it wouldn't sell. People would say it's ridiculous.
That's the best game, forget World Series, the best game I've ever done.
CB: Who have been some of your favorite players to watch over the years?
JB: As a kid I was friends with a lot of the guys on the late '70s Cardinals, early '80s Cardinals but none of the stars.
I loved Keith Hernandez, he was one of my favorites as a kid growing up. Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, I'm old enough to remember him pitching although it was at the end of his great career.
It's not just St. Louis players. I'm sitting here in San Francisco and Brian Wilson is one of the most unique human beings I've ever met.
Every team's got a guy that you go to and get the mood of the ballclub. Every team needs somebody to lighten the mood in the clubhouse and on the bench.
I appreciate the greatness of Albert Pujols. I can appreciate the leadership and greatness of Derek Jeter.
Some of these young guys that have come along; to get a chance to meet Mike Trout at the All-Star game, Bryce Harper and (Stephen) Strasburg with what they have going on in Washington.
I was excited to meet a lot of the young guys when we were in Kansas City at the All-Star Game.
CB: This World Series marks the first time the Detroit Tigers will face the San Francisco Giants for it all. Who do you think the unsung heroes will be to watch?
JB: Well that's always the question isn't it? Nobody would have picked Scutaro going into the last series as the MVP before the thing started. He didn't have a great division series.
Think of the Cardinals last year: You think Albert Pujols all the way and then it was David Freese.
So here's my pick on the unsung, nobody's-paying-attention-to heroes: I'll go the second baseman for the Tigers, (Omar) Infante. He's been getting better since the trade and performing better for them.
I think he's hit the Giants well in his career, back in the National League against a team he's seen plenty of. I say Infante's gonna be my early pick.
Then its going to be somebody out of the bullpen for the Giants. Maybe Javier Lopez, he's a nasty left-hander.
You think of a guy like Prince Fielder who will come up in key spots to face him; I think Lopez will have a big series.
CB: This will be a true test of momentum versus rest—which team do you think has the advantage in that regard?
JB: I think that it's going to balance things out. To begin I think Detroit has a huge advantage being able to line up their pitching the way they want.
They've got the best pitcher on the planet going tonight in (Justin) Verlander. But, here are the Giants who have proven that they don't care who's on the mound or what the series looks like, they can take advantage of the series even if they're down.
There's momentum and a lot of confidence on the Giants' side. I think it will take a game or two for the Tigers to build that momentum back up, but they have the ultimate equalizer in Verlander.
However, the last time I saw him face the National League was at the All-Star game and he got knocked around, which is why we're in San Francisco and not Detroit. Who knows?
CB: That being said, who do you think will win it all and who will be the World Series MVP?
JB: I don't know, I'm not really good at predictions. If I was I'd sit in Vegas and talk to you from there. Because I'm doing the Series and I'm sitting here in San Francisco I'll pass on my predictions, but I'll give you a clue: I think Verlander will be the MVP of the series.
CB: My last question—you're a man with great musical taste. If you could give a theme song to this year’s World Series winner (not Springsteen’s “This Train”), what would it be and why?
JB: My mind immediately went to the Foo Fighters, and I'll say "Rope."