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MEDIA VIEWS

Just like with sports, Joe Buck's 'Jeopardy!' stint is riling up some viewers

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Joe Buck on Jeopardy

Joe Buck talks to a staff member during a filming of "Jeopardy!" 

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Joe Buck said last week that he brought his sense of humor and personality to "Jeopardy!" when he taped the five episodes of the iconic television game show that are airing this week. And through the first four episodes of his five-day run as the last of the 16 guest hosts that have filled in this season for Alex Trebek, who died in November, Buck has done just that.

But, as is the case with his "real" job — the lead NFL and MLB play-by-play broadcaster for Fox Sports — his presence has been polarizing. Like it or not, social media can speak loudly no matter the credibility level of the commentator. And boy, Buck's "Jeopardy!" stint has kept Twitter busy.

Perhaps the most biting, at least from a well-known person connected to the show, came from James Holzhauer — a professional sports bettor who won 32 consecutive games of "Jeopardy!" in 2018, amassing nearly $2.5 million.

"Jeopardy says whoever hosts full time will have to quit their other job," Holzhuer tweeted, "so I’m crossing my fingers it’s Joe Buck."

(It was announced Wednesday that Mike Richards, the show's executive producer, will take over next year for the daytime version of the show and actress Mayim Bialik will conduct prime-time episodes.)

But a guy who is on his own big "Jeopardy!" run now, Matt Amodio, had a vastly different view than that of Holzhauer after Tuesday's production aired.

"I am loving the @Buck show on #jeopardy!," he tweeted. "I can feel the rhythm of the game in his voice . . . it's almost like he does this for a living."

Amodio rolled to his 17th consecutive victory Thursday and he and Buck seem to have created a bond, something Buck alluded to last week in an interview with the Post-Dispatch. He said then that he developed a rooting interest in one contestant, whose name he could not divulge at the time in order to not give away information about shows that had not yet aired.

“I was hoping he did well,” Buck said, now obviously of Amodio. “He had a lot of personality; he was very likeable.”

They made a connection during the session on Monday's show in which the host greets the contestants as they discuss some aspect of the players' lives.

Amodio, a Cleveland Indians fan, brought up the final game of the 2016 World Series in which the Chicago Cubs beat the Indians.

"I understand I am to blame for your good and bad mood in 2016," Buck, who called that game, told Amodio while grinning widely.

"That's right," he said. ". . . You were with me when (Cleveland's) Raja Davis hit a game-tying home run. And I was so happy. But unfortunately you also were there with me a couple innings later when it all ended."

After the episode aired, Amodio took to Twitter.

"OK, I'm going to let it slide this time, @buck, because you were so darn good hosting #jeopardy tonight. . . . But next time you better be calling a Cleveland win."

Not all viewers were as complimentary as Amodio.

"Even Joe Buck's wife doesn't want to watch Joe Buck host Jeopardy," one wise guy tweeted.

Buck has plenty of experience dealing with naysayers as he is the subject of disparaging social media commentary to a degree that few (no?) other sportscasters attract. It is tied to his "let's have some fun" approach that many sportscasters don't take — especially so in the early days of his career, more than a quarter century ago.

He has taken that breezy approach to "Jeopardy!"

When Amodio had an incorrect response to a clue about comedian Rodney Dangerfield, Buck good-naturedly chided him while working in Dangerfield's trademark line: "No respect from the kid (Amodio)!"

On Thursday, one of the clues was about the Cardinals — the team Buck broadcast to begin his career.

"Atta boy!" Buck said after Amodio responded correctly. "Makes me happy."

Amodio's remarkable run now has him at $547,600, the third-biggest win in daytime "Jeopardy" annals.

"He holds a unique record that I'm pretty confident will never be broken," Buck said. "He has played Jeopardy with four different guest hosts. You're stuck with me became I'm the last one."

Monday morning QBs

Buck is used to being on the social media firing line.

In fact, last weekend he tweeted: "Can’t wait for all the armchair hosts to tell me how it should be done. Hahahahah."

Some of those armchair quarterbacks actually have been kind in their responses to his "Jeopardy!" stint, which concludes Friday (locally at 4:30 p.m. on KSDK, Channel 5).

A sampling of Twitter comments:

• "After all these years, I still have no idea why everyone hates Joe Buck. Like, I know I’m supposed to hate him, but I don’t remember why."

• "Can someone PLEASE explain to me what makes Joe Buck a bad play-by-play man? I haven’t heard a good answer EVER. The man is as good as it gets. I just don’t get the hate."

On the other side:

• "I have no idea who Joe Buck is, but he's annoying me as the guest host."

• "With his Jeopardy appearance, Joe Buck is only calling NHL games away from ruining everything I love."

Bottom line

While national ratings for Buck's "Jeopardy!" appearances were not yet available, his shows have been a hit in his hometown, which he has mentioned often on the air when discussing the charity his appearances are benefitting. That's KidSmart, a St. Louis-area organization that provides basic school materials to children whose families have financial difficulties.

Through Wednesday, Buck's "Jeopardy!" shows were seen in an average of 6.5% of homes in the market with a TV. In July, in the three weeks before the Olympics began, the St. Louis rating for the program was 5.3.

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