Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The 20 Best People That Cover Sports

As promised in my bit on the 20 worst people that cover sports, I’m back with who I consider to be the 20 best. To clarify, this is simply just the 20 national individuals that I happen to enjoy the most. I suspect this list will be argued more than the “worst” list. It’s easy to agree on who sucks in media. But to get everyone to agree on who’s actually good? This would have to be a top two or three list.

One follow-up to the “worst” list…I forgot someone. I knew I would and I’m ashamed of myself. How did I forget Jim Grey? That guy makes my skin crawl. My bad.

Anyway, like the previous list, this isn’t in any order. But I would like to start with the man pictured above…someone that I hope everyone can agree is awesome.

1. Vin Scully, LA Dodgers PBP Announcer

Sixty-two years. That’s how long Mr. Scully has been the play-by-play man for the Dodgers. If you hold a job for that long, I think it’s safe to say you’re probably pretty good at it. And not only is Vin good, he’s arguably the best of all time. Now 83 years old, he has reduced his schedule to Dodger home games and mainly NL West away games. But I’ll never forget the two most memorable calls of my childhood (Bucker’s error and Gibson’s homer). It’s no coincidence that both were by Scully. If anyone deserves a break, it is this living legend.

2. Bob Uecker, Milwaukee Brewers PBP Announcer

Not only is “Mr. Baseball” a great baseball announcer, but he’s a brilliant comedian and a phenomenal overall personality in sports. The highlight of taking a trip to Milwaukee a couple years ago for me was to hear Bob calling a game again. And whether you enjoyed his unforgettable performances in the “Major League” movies, his classic Miller Lite commercials, or any number of his self-deprecating interviews he’s done, well, everyone has a favorite “Ueck moment”. My ultimate baseball dream not involving the Tigers winning a World Series, is that Fox cans Buck/McCarver and somehow arranges for a Scully/Uecker tandem to call the games.

3. Jon Miller, San Francisco Giants PBP Announcer

One last MLB play-by-play guy and I’m done with them, I promise. Miller’s not liked by everyone, I get that. I think much of that was due to his ten year pairing with the intolerable Joe Morgan, but whatever. But what I like about Miller is the way his voice makes big moments seem even bigger. He has a way about him to make even the most routine plays seem important. It’s hard to explain. But I think it’s something that is missing from 99% of the newer crop of announcers out there.

4. Michael Smith, ESPN

Okay, let me take a break from the old guys for a second. Michael Smith is probably my favorite male personality on ESPN today…though that might not be saying much. I like Smith because unlike most of his co-workers at the World Wide Leader, I actually believe Smith when he speaks. He’s passionate, but not annoying about it. He’s not afraid to speak his mind. And most of the time, he’s right about what he’s talking about. It’s sad that those qualities seem so refreshing nowadays.

5. Michelle Beadle, ESPN

Michelle’s my overall favorite person on ESPN now. And yes, she is quite attractive, but that’s not why. I like Beads because she still comes off as a fan when talking about sports. I’m a firm believer that many reporters over the years become so jaded with the games they cover that they begin to hate their jobs and their work suffers. Beadle looks like she’s having a good time, she knows her stuff, and she mocks Colin Cowherd on a daily basis. She’s a breath of fresh air on ESPN. And yeah…she’s hawt, too. Durr…

6. Drew Magary, Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber

If you don’t know who Big Daddy Drew is, then you’re missing out. I personally find him to be the funniest man on the planet. His Monday takedowns of Peter King on KSK and his Tuesday mailbags on Deadspin are the only two things I look forward to each week on the internet. The dude’s a comic genius, a guy that I rip off more than anyone, and to top it all off, he really knows his stuff on any sport he talks about, especially football.

7. Marv Albert, TNT

YES! Marv is known as “The Voice of Basketball” for a reason. There’s quite simply no one better and there never has been. Though he’s also done work in baseball, football, tennis, and hockey, basketball is where Marv has excelled. I used to shoot baskets in my back yard as a kid with Albert’s voice narrating my imagined NBA career in my head. Sure, he might like to bite chicks when in the sack, but it doesn’t take away from his brilliance on the mic.

8. Scott Van Pelt, ESPN

SVP is the only Sportscenter anchor that I wouldn’t want to see beaten to death with a rock hammer. He’s got a good sense of humor without going overboard (unlike Kenny Mayne). He doesn’t rely on tired schtick (Berman, Stu Scott). He’s just himself, and it works. Whether it’s doing the highlights or his radio show, Scott’s a solid, honest guy that still comes off as a fan. That keeps coming up with me, but I guess that’s what I like in my sports coverage.

9. Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN, ABC

Sure, he was a Buckeye. That should make him an asshole. But he doesn’t come off that way. That’s what Lee Corso’s for. No, Kirk is honest, easy to understand, and another rare voice of reason in the gimmick-filled world of covering sports. He remains informative and entertaining without having to lower himself to putting a mascot head on to get people to pay attention to him.

10. Peter Gammons, MLB Network

Even though he’s from Boston, there’s no one in baseball that I trust more than Peter Gammons. If he told me that Will Rhymes would hit 40 home runs next year, I’d probably believe the sumbitch. Gammons is great and “Baseball Tonight” has suffered in his absence. I have no interest in watching John Kruk get fatter without Gammons there to offer me some actual baseball news. In June 2006, Peter had a brain aneurysm, but was back to work three months later. So he’s a tough bastard, too. Thanks, Pete.

11. Cris Collinsworth, NBC

Here’s another guy a lot of people hate on. But I don’t get why. In a sport like football when you have mental midgets like Terry Bradshaw, Shannon Sharpe, and Peter King as the guys breaking down the action, a guy like Collinsworth comes off as a friggin’ genius. I mean, he actually knows what he’s talking about and doesn’t stumble over his words! Amazing!

12. Skip Bayless, ESPN

Everyone has their fans. And I’m probably Skip’s only one. I love the dude. I know you probably can’t stand him. But the dude cracks me up, whether he’s calling out Lebron or TO, or making Rob Parker look dumber than he already does on “First and Ten”. Skip doesn’t care what anyone thinks and speaks his mind. No, I often don’t agree with the guy. But he’s always entertaining to me despite that fact.

13. Buster Olney, ESPN

Buster’s just a baseball nerd. He’s a “smallball” guy and isn’t into the more modern saber approach to looking at the game, but I don’t hold that against him. I just find him likeable and entertaining…you can just tell how much he loves the game by listening to him talk.

14. Tim Kurkjian, ESPN

And if Buster’s a baseball nerd, Tim’s his geekier brother. The man lives, eats, and sleeps baseball and I could listen to him talk about it all day.

15. Tim Cowlishaw, ESPN

I like Tim because of his sense of humor on “Around the Horn”, especially when he tries to sneak some talk about hockey into the conversations. If you can make me laugh, it goes a long way.

16. J.A. Adande, ESPN

Speaking of “Around the Horn”, not only does Adande make me laugh, but he’s the most sensible guy they ever have on there not named Michael Smith. He’s worked for papers in LA, Chicago, and Washington, making him one of the few newspaper-guys-turned-TV-guys that has a good sense of what fans are thinking from coast to coast. Good dude.

17. James Brown, CBS

JB’s a professional and had to suffer through being the voice of reason and ringmaster on Fox’s NFL coverage for way too long. I’m surprised he didn’t hang himself. JB’s another rare sportscaster that you feel you can trust in a world where so many come off as slimy used car salesmen.

18. Doug Glanville, ESPN

Doug may be the smartest baseball player of all time. I’ve enjoyed his work on TV, in magazines, and on Twitter. In fact, I wish we’d get to see more of him and less of guys like Kruk. Sorry, guys. I used to like Krukkie…but now he’s just “there” to me.

19. David Feherty, CBS

The heavily-Irish accented Feherty is the only golf announcer that I can stand. He was a decent golfer in his day, but he doesn’t take the sport TOO seriously like so many of his counterparts. He’s got a great sense of humor, too.

20. Harold Reynolds/Sean Casey, MLB Network

It might be cheating, but I couldn’t decide between the two. They both love the game, both look like they’re having fun even discussing it, and just overall enhance the game of baseball with their discussion of it.

There. I don’t hate everyone. Happy? Good. Later, I’ll tackle the best/worst of local sports coverage.

I need a drink…1600 words of being nice. Yikes.

I don’t feel well…


JacksTigers said...

I know that I'm the minority. And maybe it's because they were the first announcers (other than Mario and Rod) that I had ever heard, but I miss the duo of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller. They were awesome.

Jay Hathaway said...

Nice list.  I really like Gary Thorne (now with the Orioles), especially when he did hockey.  He's kind of the poor man's Vin Scully.  Also, I would have to throw Don "Grapes" Cherry into the mix.  "That was a terrible first period of hockey.  It was like watching the Fins play the Swedes."

Julian Miller said...

I hope you're only going with CURRENT sports broadcasters...otherwise the lack of Ernie Harwell would be blasphemy. 

I always confuse Buster Olney with Patton Oswalt.  I'm pretty sure on some nights they probably switch places to see if anyone notices.

Derek Schwanger said...

Yuck. Joe Morgan is terrible.

Spockmaster said...

id like to throw joe morgan in a sack, throw the sack in a river, and hurl the river into the sun.

SRogo said...

Shit...good call. Thorne should be on there.

SRogo said...

Well, obviously. Ernie was amazing. And I grew up with the Kell/Kaline duo calling games on TV. Still my favorites ever.

JacksTigers said...

I thought that he was awesome, but like I said, I hadn't heard anybody else.

H2OPoloPunk said...

I love Cris Collinsworth too, but it's more for my University of Florida homerism than anything.

Buster Olney annoys the shit out of me.

jason said...

Rogo, reading for a long time, commenting for the first.    Here, people anger me less.  But your 60 percent list was "suprising". 

Son, I would have never guessed that you woud have liked so many ESPN characters.  I am not going to lie, I'm shocked.  You don't seem to be brain conditioned...

The best thing that has ever happened in Peter Gammons moving from ESPN to the MLB network.   I personnally hate ESPOON more than the ancient egyptions hated carrying huge blocks of rocks.  Hell is watching ESPN during the NBA Playoffs.  

SRogo said...

Well, when talking national sports media, it's hard to avoid the WWL. If you read the prior list, yeah, I'm not a big fan of most of them. The ones listed here I find generally harmless, especially for ESPN. I adore Beadle, though...I freely admit that.

Jay Hathaway said...

I was actually AT the Little League World Series all day today (visiting family near WIlliamsport) and Thorne was there.

jason said...

yeah, she's hot. no denying that.