First of all, I have to come clean. I got home from work last night, cooked myself some dinner, and settled in and watched the “American Idol” finale before watching one second of the Pistons/Celtics. In fact, I missed the draft lottery because I was watching the Davids go head to head in the Nokia Theatre. And, I’m hear to tell you, I don’t regret it. As Randy Jackson said, those boys sang their faces off! What does this mean about me? Don’t answer that! Seriously, don’t.
Quickly moving on, as they often do, the “Mayhem in the A.M.” crew on Atlanta’s own 790 The Zone tossed around an interesting topic yesterday morning. They solicited listener’s opinions on the best and worst broadcasters on T.V. I loved this topic not only because it gave me the opportunity to shoot off an email sharing my Hubie Brown should narrate porn videos theory, butalso because I am one of those dorks that often finds the broadcasters as interesting as the game itself. So, naturally, I spent a good portion of my day rating announcers in my head as I worked on very exciting legal things and what not. The result? Well, I considered giving you a list of the best and worst, but I figured there was no reason to crap on the bad ones. Instead, I decided to keep it positive, and in true WAD fashion, here is a list of my 7 favorite announcers (I mean, you don’t need me to tell you Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are miserable and insufferable, right?):
1) Bill Rafferty - In addition to the fact that he is the Anti-Billy Packer (always upbeat and genuinely excited to be announcing a basketball game), he is incredibly knowledgeable, wastes no words, and always captures the moment. I don’t know of any other color guy that has such an influential impact on the flow of the game. And, if that’s not enough, try these on for size: “with a kiss”…”a little lingerie on the deck”….”ONIONS!”
2) Gus Johnson - There is nobody in the business that exudes excitement, enthusiasm, humor, and passion and can still maintain his focus on the details like Gus. All I can really say is that I would watch a hockey game is Gus was doing the play by play. Don’t believe me? Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkiM3tBJVhk
3) Hubie Brown - There is simply nothing better than listening to the old coach expertly break down every intricacy of an NBA game. Honestly, it is like attending a coaching clinic every time you listen to Hubie. And, of course, there is the whole porn narration thing.
4) Dick Stockton - I mean, he is the consummate professional. Did you watch the NBA on CBS as a kid? Well, he hasn’t lost a step in 25 years. Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes and watch this (not a bad game, either): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdOCiA4-Gyg
5) Brad Nessler - As much as I love college football, there is a tremendous void when it comes to quality announcers. That explains why Nessler is the only college football announcer on this list. His greatness, however, isn’t limited to football. He does a great job with college basketball and with the NBA. His greatest gift, which is amazingly not shared by many other big time announcers, is his ability to not miss any of the details and bring out the strengths of the other guys in the booth. Just look to his work with Paul Maguire and Bob Griese. I genuinely enjoy this crew even though I’m not always sure Maguire and Griese are actually watching the game.
6) Bryant Gumble - Okay, that’s a joke. Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. The real #6 is Jon Miller. Hands down, the best baseball announcer in the business. Always on point, always has great stories to pass the time in the slow pace of a Sunday night in the summer, and when it comes down to it he just sounds like a baseball announcer should sound. I couldn’t find the audio, but here is the text of his legendary call of Bonds’s 756th (forget for a minute that Bonds is a scumbag):
Three and two to Bonds. Everybody standing here at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. An armada of nautical craft gathered in McCovey Cove beyond the right field wall. Bonds one home run away from history. (crack of the bat) AND HE SWINGS, AND THERE'S A LONG ONE DEEP INTO RIGHT CENTER FIELD, WAY BACK THERE, IT'S GONE!!! A HOME RUN! Into the center field bleachers to the left of the 421 foot marker. An extraordinary shot to the deepest part of the yard! And Barry Bonds with 756 home runs, he has hit more home runs than anyone who has ever played the game!
7) Verne Lundquist at the Masters - It is very important that we distinguish between Verne the college football announcer and Verne at the Masters. As much as it pains me, Verne the college football announcer has turned into an insufferable jock sniffer that chooses one player to love at the outset of every season and finds a way to slurp them every week, even if he isn’t covering their game. It used to be David Greene and David Pollack, and now it is Tim Tebow. He will probably cry when Tebow takes his jean shorts to the CFL. On the other hand, on Sunday at Augusta, when he is sitting in the tower on 16, Verne is perfect. No other word to describe it. The best I can do is two simple words, “Yes, Siiiiiiiiiiiiir!” I couldn’t find the audio for the legendary call from 17 in ’86, but here is another one for the ages (And no, never in my life have I!):