Taking a look at Chad Finn’s top big-event announcers

Something I had been considering doing for a while was looking at the national announcers and rating my top play-by-play men. Well, Chad Finn’s Friday column was just that, the top 10 big-event announcers. Here is his condensed list:

  1. Al Michaels (NBC; football)
  2. Joe Buck (Fox; football, baseball, golf)
  3. Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (NBC; hockey)
  4. Mike Tirico (NBC; football, golf, Olympics, etc.)
  5. Sean McDonough (ESPN; Monday Night Football, college basketball)
  6. Kevin Harlan (CBS/Turner/Westwood One Radio; football, basketball)
  7. Jim Nantz (CBS; football, basketball, golf)
  8. Mike Breen (ESPN/ABC; basketball)
  9. Marv Albert (Turner; basketball)
  10. Kevin Burkhardt (Fox; football, baseball, golf)

I have no big issues with Finn’s list; his top three makes a lot of sense for me and definitely would be my as well. I would give the top nod to Buck, however, due to the breadth of his work and how his voice has that ‘big game’ feel and he has called the most goosebump-inducing of moments. His call in game 4 of the 2004 World Series is perfect, “back to Foulke, Red Sox fans have longed to hear it: The Boston Red Sox are World Champions!” and then gets out of the way. Unobtrusive, like it should be.

Emrick and Michaels both excel at what they do, despite having diminished roles in their later years. Emrick, who has an exquisite vocabulary, once used 153 different verbs to describe a pass in hockey. His excitement is unmatched. Michaels has the pedigree and the legacy. From calling the miracle on ice in 1980, he has had a long, storied career and has shown no signs of slowing down in his work on the marquee Sunday Night Football broadcast.

My one issue, which has been slowly brewing for a while, is Nantz on this list. Once one of my favorite announcers, Nantz has jumped the shark for me. He seems to think that he is a part of the moment more than he should have, for instance when he stepped all over Sergio Garcia’s winning putt just last week. Whether it be giving out ties in the NCAA tournament (who wants a freaking Nantz tie?!?!?) or pictures of how he likes his burnt toast in his wallet (seriously…), Nantz has started to bug me about how he wants to be the story. Also, in his calls he is very reserved and doesn’t seem to have a memorable moment or call, even in his high-profile gigs like the Master, NCAA Tournament and Super Bowl. To me, he’s just another voice, not worthy of even top 10 honors, despite his role.

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Taking a Look at the Notable Calls for James White’s Super Bowl Winning TD

When looking back at the New England Patriots’ historic Super Bowl win, one thing I like to do is check out some of the notable calls from each of the big TV/Radio broadcasts. Deadspin posted a video with all of the major calls by the networks here.

Joe Buck (Fox)- For some reason unbeknownst to me, Buck gets a bad rap as an announcer. Possibly because his father held the same role and people may feel he is a product of nepotistic practices, but I think Buck has the quintessential “big-game voice”. His call here is beautifully executed, he makes his call with enthusiasm and passion and promptly gets out of the way and lets the crowds cheers tell the story. A great couple of months for Buck and Fox as they were fresh off of calling the Cubs’ historic World Series title and got the greatest Super Bowl, dare I say ever.

Bob Socci (Patriots Radio Network)- Exactly what you would want from the “homer” broadcast, from color analyst Scott Zolak’s shouting in the background in his unabashed support of the team to a great call from Socci. Although it is radio, I would have liked Socci to let the moment breathe a little bit and get the crowd noise or at least not cut off Zolak.

Wes Durham (Falcons Radio)- Not much you can say as the team broadcaster after a comeback of that proportion, but I think Durham all-in-all handled his call pretty well. I think he got the tenor of the moment for Falcons fans while also capturing some of the excitement heard on the other sideline.

Kevin Harlan (Westwood One)- Another “big-game voice” Harlan arguably has the best call of the bunch. He is definitive with his statements and captures the excitement of the moment with his own voice. No complaints on this call.