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┬áSergio 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.


CSNNE Revamps Nightly Programming

The Friday before break, Chad Finn reported that Comcast SportsNet New England had announced a shift in its weeknight programming. In place of their main nightly staples, SportsNet Central (a news-based sports update show), Early Edition (half-hour opinion based show hosted by Gary Tanguay) and Sports Tonight (basically Early Edition at 10 p.m. hosted by Michael Felger), CSN announced a new nightly schedule that features an two-hour expanded Early Edition and Boston Sports Tonight, a new three-hour show from 9 p.m.-midnight. The new lineup is slated to roll out April 3 and these shows will be bumped for Celtics coverage as needed.

The change was not out of the blue, however. Finn wrote in December that CSN was planning on moving toward more opinion-based programming and away from sports news shows. With a new line-up, here’s a closer look at each show and some of my questions:

Early Edition (Hosted by Tanguay, Felger and Trenni Kusnierek from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m.)- This show looks to be a combination of three of Boston’s top opinion personalities and won’t be short for “hot-takes”. Trenni will be the most sane and rational out of the bunch, but I look forward to seeing how the three work together for two hours. I also hope the show continues to use Kirk Minihane, who has great chemistry with both Tanguay and Trenni, as it does during the half-hour segments. My biggest question for this show is the use of Felger. Felger will finish his daily radio show at 6 p.m. and what will the expectations be? Will he do the show completely remote from 98.5 studios, or will he do a segment and then drive to Comcast studios from Brighton to Burlington during rush-hour? I would think it would be tough for him to prep for the show as well, but who knows, he is a good enough personality to wing it. I believe it would be best to have him in person, but it may not be feasible.

Boston Sports Tonight (Hosted by Tom Giles, Tom Curran, Kayce┬áSmith and Michael Holley)- This show looks to be similar in format, opinion based with what looks like Giles and Smith to set the table for Curran and Holley. With this show I have a couple of questions. First about Smith and how she will handle the Boston market. I am not familiar with her work, but I have seen in the past that the market has been a tough move for personalities. My next two questions are about Holley, who hosts a 2-6 p.m. show at WEEI in competition of Felger. For Holley, it seems the 35 hours a week of talking on air is a lot to handle, I would like to see how he can manage that workload. Also, he does come off as very hypocritical in this instance as he told Rich Keefe, a new member to his radio show on WEEI, that he did not want Keefe to do an extra hour of radio after their program from 2-6 because it would be too much on Keefe’s plate. Holley then goes out and gets a nightly gig for THREE HOURS on top of his four-hour show. Seems like if Keefe has a full plate, then Holley is at an all-you-can-eat buffet.