Around dinnertime March 22, Andrew Cordisco grilled chicken wings on his back deck. He aimlessly scrolled through Twitter while waiting to flip the wings. Cordisco doesn't follow Joe Buck, but a friend had retweeted the sportscaster's post asking for household videos.
With the absence of sports spawned by the novel coronavirus pandemic, fans have sought to fill that gaping void with game simulations, replays and sports movies. Buck's contribution to the effort began that weekend, when he committed to offer play-by-play for videos as simple as preparing dinner.
Cordisco chuckled when he saw the tweet, then asked his wife to film an uneventful clip in which he placed the sauced wings back onto a sizzling grill, never acknowledging the camera. After Cordisco sent in his submission, he and his wife enjoyed dinner at their home in Raleigh, North Carolina, and he let the video slip out of his mind.
Cordisco rarely tweets and primarily uses Twitter to follow news. But by Tuesday evening, just after he finished a conference call, Cordisco saw hundreds of notifications rolling in. He immediately knew why.
"Look at this," Buck says as Cordisco places the wings onto the grill. "They were already hot coming out. They're back on the grill. The sauce is inside the bowl. Reaching back in. Wanting more. They keep coming out of that bowl. How many can you give us, Andrew? Unbelievable!"
Buck, the son of legendary announcer Jack Buck, has called 22 World Series and six Super Bowls for Fox. From his St. Louis home, he is now calling these lighthearted videos, which Fox dubbed "Quarantine Calls." Buck has provided humorous analysis of dogs chasing each other on an empty field, chickens wandering around in their coop with a seesaw and an airline employee marshaling a plane to its gate. Dozens of these videos fill Buck's Twitter feed and have combined for millions of views.
"I didn't know that it would take off," Buck said in a telephone interview. "That's where we are. I think people are starved for something along these lines."
Others in sports media have created similar videos. Nick Heath, a London-based sports commentator, films neighborhood activities, such as shopping or crossing the street, and turns them into competitive events with his play-by-play. A two-minute marble race, complete with named participants such as Comet and Deep Ocean, accumulated more than 35 million views in the past two weeks.
Buck's foray into this realm of playful sportscasting began with a text from his boss, who joked he could call Internet videos to stay sharp. But that quickly turned into a realistic idea to fill the time. Initially, they discussed providing commentary for viral videos, but Buck thought asking for mundane videos and calling upon people's creativity would stay fresh and funny.
Some of the submissions that have caught Buck's attention have been makeshift family sporting events, such as a two-on-two living-room basketball game - "anything that's creative like that and points out how we're all in the same sort of situation," Buck said. He has also received numerous pet videos because, he said, "everybody's very proud of their dog."
Sean and Carly Furman, who live in Glassboro, New Jersey, now have a clip of Buck calling their Husky sprinting around the yard. Sean Furman's sister works for NFL Films and became friends with the Buck family, so Furman thought his video had a decent chance of getting selected. Furman filmed his dog, Dabo - a nod to the Clemson football coach - enjoying the newly fenced-in backyard a few weeks ago, so he submitted that clip.
"He actually is pretty chill," Furman said, describing his dog, who lay next to him on the couch during a telephone interview. "If you get him in that open space, he'll get going."
In Buck's tweet with the video, the sportscaster wrote: "We will all be like Dabo when we can safely leave our houses."
Adding play-by-play to 10 videos might take Buck 20 minutes. He said he may watch the video once to see what's involved, but "I just want to see it and react to it. I think it's funnier that way, even if it's not perfect." Recording the audio hasn't required more than two takes.
Buck sends his play-by-play audio to Fox, where others ensure they have permission to disseminate the video. They edit the clip, sometimes adding slow-motion replays, and then Buck tweets the new video.
Buck has little information to power his play-by-play. In the case of Cordisco's chicken wings, the sportscaster filled idle time with notes from Cordisco's Twitter bio, including that he's a "Fightins enthusiast" (which Buck correctly noted was a reference to the Philadelphia Phillies) and his aspirations of becoming president.
Cordisco, despite participating in Philadelphia's now-defunct Wing Bowl, hadn't tried making wings until recently. The 31-year-old eats wings at least once a week, and during the quarantine, he finally learned to make them.
"And the second time ever," he said, "was narrated by the guy who called the time my beloved baseball team won the World Series, a top moment in my life."
About an hour after Buck tweeted about this endeavor, he added another suggestion: If he posts your video, donate to a charity. Cordisco donated to United Way of Central Carolinas, and the Furmans chose a Philadelphia restaurant relief fund.
Having such a positive experience on social media has been "mind-blowing," Buck said, and he plans to continue until others grow tired of it. In the meantime, he'll continue narrating an indoor tennis match between brothers and analyzing a professional golfer's effort to hide his receding hairline.
"I've been doing this a long time," Buck said, "and you find there's always something to say."