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:
- Al Michaels (NBC; football)
- Joe Buck (Fox; football, baseball, golf)
- Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (NBC; hockey)
- Mike Tirico (NBC; football, golf, Olympics, etc.)
- Sean McDonough (ESPN; Monday Night Football, college basketball)
- Kevin Harlan (CBS/Turner/Westwood One Radio; football, basketball)
- Jim Nantz (CBS; football, basketball, golf)
- Mike Breen (ESPN/ABC; basketball)
- Marv Albert (Turner; basketball)
- 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.