Sports brings joy to men like few things in the world. Those few things I really don’t need to explain. If I do, then you missed a few chapters in life’s handbook. But as important as a good sports game is, sometimes it’s just as important whose calling it. That’s what we here at The Sports Headquarters are bringing you today. I, Bryan Doherty want to confess my love and love for hating on the best and worst commentators the sports world has today. I managed to drag Coley Michalik into it with me (and by drag I mean take his idea and claim it), and we’re going to give you our personal feels for who belongs among the elite of sports commentating. What inspired this? Well, Doug Gottlieb, we thank you. Your dreadful commentating and self-praise last night during the Texas-Oklahoma St. game was enough to make my ears bleed, and it wasn’t long until Coley joined in with me on the hate train. So for this segment idea, we thank you. We’ll be sure to give you your fame on here.
How will this work? Well, Coley and Myself will present you with our Top 5-10 favorite and least favorite commentators in the sports world. We’ll give you a quick little blurb on why they ended up where they did, and then at the end, we’ll give you our consensus Mt. Rushmore (plus one) of sports commentators, and our Mountain of Shame for the 5 guys who would be best served walking away from the mic tomorrow. So with no further delay, my (Bryan) favorite and least favorite sports commentators in the business.
Note: If we include a duo as “one”, just roll with it. Hell, it’s our lists. But we may not be able to separate a duo if that’s the reason we like them.
Bryan’s Most Hated:
8. Dick Vitale- I know, it’s Dickie V. How the hell do you hate Dickie V? Well this one was hard. I almost left him off both ballots in a “neutral” sense, but as an avid Duke hater, I can’t stand listening to him slurp up to the Dukies. Plus, after 5-10 years of hearing the same catchphrases, well, it starts to wear on you.
7. Tim McCarver- The “analyst” to Joe Buck on Saturday’s Fox baseball broadcasts, this guy kills me with his over analysis. “No Tim, he stole 2nd because he’s a great base-stealer, not because the infield dirt is giving off good traction.” Worst part is if he just tossed in some lines here and there it would be fine. But I don’t need you to explain to me on a 0-2 count that the pitcher is trying to waste a pitch by getting the batter to chase.
6. Alexi Lalas- Wouldn’t even be surprised if some of you didn’t know who this is. Well, he’s one of the major soccer guys for ESPN and covered the World Cup. While the English guy and the Dutch guy were calm and professional, Lalas felt the need to raise his voice about everything. And he has this AMAZING trend of over-dramatizing everything. I get it Alexi, it was a great win for the Colorado Rapids in the MLS Cup. Newsflash: The 12 people that watched aren’t even as excited as you are. Let me know when the World Cup is back on.
5. Mark Jackson- No Mark, not every game requires a reference to a St. John’s guy. Overall, he’s not that bad, it’s just he rarely brings energy, his comments are so predictable, and next to Jeff Van Gundy who is witty and can be funny, well it makes you look worse. I’d rather see Jalen Rose or Kenny the Jet on the mic.
4. Craig James- Other than the fact your kid is a complete va-jay-jay, it’s now clear where he got it from. Listening to this guy call CFB is painful. Worst part is often he’s with Brock Huard who was o so close to making this list. James is so up and down with his opinions it’s silly. He was singing praises of Boise St. before they lost this year, yet wouldn’t give TCU the same love. Sadly he was a member of my New England Patriots at one time.
3. Chris Collinsworth- I almost want to mute SNF with this guy. Though I’m sure those outside NE would say he does it with Brady as well, each week it seems like the QB of the winning team “is amazing with what he can do with a football.” Slurps up to Peyton Manning like he gets commission for everytime he says his name, and usually makes a comment or two each game that makes me raise an eyebrow. It’s a shame because I don’t mind Al Michaels, but my rage for having to hear Collinsworth sometimes causes me to lose sight of what Al is getting across.
2. Doug Gottlieb- Sorry Doug, as much as I wanted to give you your day in the sun, you JUST BARELY manage to stay below my #1 guy in terms of annoyance. I get it, you played at Oklahoma St. and were pretty good. I don’t need to hear you tell me about your assist numbers each broadcast. I believe the quote tonight was “I was a much better passer than Balbay, and well if a HOF coach was playing me without a jump shot, I must have been doing quite a bit right.” Alright Doug, make sure you do some stretching before you pat yourself that much on the back.
1. Reggie Miller- Nowadays, there’s few things in the world worse than “Reggie Time.” Worst part is they put him on the TNT broadcast which is easily the best broadcast to watch your NBA games. Hell, throw him on ESPN with Breen and Jackson and let me never have to listen to either again. His trash talking carries over to the mic where he consistently has to take jabs at players or talk about how “WHEN I WAS PLAYING”. Dude, we get it, you were a great player, great shooter, and amazing trash talker. Just tell me what’s going on in the game. I’ll read your autobiography when you finish writing it. But I don’t need a preview while I’m watching my games.
7. Mike Patrick- He’s good whether he’s doing an ACC game, Big Ten game, Big 12, doesn’t matter. Unlike Lalas earlier, he saves his outbursts for good moments. Doesn’t rave about one block in the first half for 10 minutes. Also, does a great job of playing off his analyst. Knows his role and fulfills it to a high level. Very good CBB announcer.
6. Don Orsillo- This is kind of cheating because this is a hometown guy, but I figure one isn’t a big deal right? Orsillo does the play-by-play for the Boston Red Sox and during the postseason has been doing TBS games as well. Other fanbases generally speak highly of him when they see him during the playoffs. Very smart, and like Patrick, he goes well with Jerry Remy. One of my favorite baseball announcers.
5. Gary Thorne- Like Lalas, die-hard sports fans probably know who this is. But some may not. Though he does CFB and MLB from time to time, he’s best known for his hockey role covering the Frozen Four and NHL playoff games. In a completely heterosexual way, his voice is a perfect hockey voice. Very monotone and a smart commentator. Called every Cup Final with Bill Clement (another pretty good hockey guy) from 1993-2004, except 1995.
4. Ron Jaworksi- Honestly, how can you not like Jaws? The amount of effort and film work he puts in to put on a broadcast is something I admire very much. With all the people that come and go, he’s the one constant on Monday Night Football. Also, he proclaimed Peyton Manning was looking worse this year before the season even started, and that’s always brownie points in my book.
3. Jon Miller/Joe Morgan- I expect to be very much in the minority on this one as a lot of bloggers seem to hate this duo and were happy to see them go. I think Miller is a great play-by-play guy and maybe it’s just one of those “my generation” moments, but Jon Miller’s “And he struck him out!” calls epitomizes Sunday Night Baseball for me. Joe Morgan was a little “obvious” at times, but I always respected his opinion on player’s very highly. He has a strong knowledge for the game. This is a duo I will greatly miss.
2. Kirk Herbstreit/Brent Musburger- Well, I am one of the CFB guys here at TSHQ so naturally it only makes sense that I would have my favorite CFB guys near the top. Part of it might be the games, because these two always do the Saturday Night Primetime game which is usually a great game. So in that sense, that could be part of my reasoning for picking these two. Musburger’s famous sayings “HOOOOLLLDDD on just a minute”, “TOUCHDOWWWWNNNN _________ (insert team)” are things of gold. Herbstreit is one of my favorite analysts on the ESPN CFB network right now and I think for the most part he is very unbias and very fair in his opinions.
1. Verne Lundquist- You had me at hello Verne. Anyone who has ever heard me speak about this man knows how much I enjoy his commentary. This is another one that might raise some eyebrows as not everyone is a huge fan of his. Personally, I’d listen to him call a kite flying exhibition if it was happening. Though my favorite work of his is the Sat. afternoon national CBS CFB game, he’s just as good when he teams up with Clark Kellogg on Saturdays for CBS’ CBB broadcast. His laugh is a thing of beauty, and who can’t enjoy a little chubby old man with more passion and exuberance than a college kid at a frat party. Verne Lundquist IS sports commentating to me. I’m just glad just about every month of the year I can hear him in one sport or another on CBS. The best of the best.
Marv Alberts – There’s a reason he’s a Hall of Famer. He’s called seven Stanley Cup Finals and six NBA Championships & Super Bowls, respectively. He’s been a color commentator for Wimbledon, the World Series, and the Breeders Cup. The guy is a legend and his voice doesn’t hurt either.
John Gruden – Former coaches and players are hit or miss when they get in the booth. Some can barely formulate a sentence. Gruden gives excellent analysis week to week and picks one player on both teams to hype up to be the best player ever at that position. He knows the game because he studies the game and he is able to dissect plays at game speed. If he decides not to return to coaching he may be able to make a living on air.
Phil Simms – Simms was a successful quarterback as he was named MVP of Super Bowl XXI, leading the Giants to a 39-20 victory over the Broncos. Since then he’s provided excellent commentary for ESPN, NBC, and now for CBS. He’s not the most exciting of announcers, but he doesn’t take away from the game and drops some knowledge from time to time. He is a solid compliment to the game.
Joe Buck – People hate him because he got where he was because of his father. I may be a bit biased but one of the greatest calls I’ve ever heard was, “Ground ball back to Foulke, Red Sox fans have long to hear it.” The man knows the game and is passionate about the sport, to not put him on here would be unnecessary hatred.
Sir. Charles - He doesn’t get to call enough games in my opinion. I would love to hear Tommy Heinsohn and Barkley to call a Celtics game. It would be the greatest game of all time regardless of what actually happened on the court. Barkley may be in too big of a rush to stop at red lights and stop signs, but he takes his time even when it comes to the simplest of words. Charles Barkley is one of the all time great little big men and one of the great personalities around the game.
Coley’s Most Hated:
Tim McCarver - Baseball is slow enough to watch but listening to McCarver babble on and on is tough. He makes watching national games that do not include your home team impossible and must be a negative in ratings for Fox. I’m surprised he’s still around. If he wore a cowboy hat I may take him more seriously and I think that’s the first time that’s ever been said about anyone.
Joe Morgan – I used to not mind Morgan but I realized it was because I only heard him on Sox-Yankees national games. Once i started watching the MLB on ESPN more regularly, I realized that calling a Boston-New York game is the easiest thing anyone could do. Outside of talking about himself, the game doesn’t get too much attention.
Doug Gottlieb - This man is what sparked Doherty and I to come up with this piece. Listening to him ramble on and on and on about every single game he ever played in his collegiate career was more painful than listening to Bobcat Goldthwait sing in a blender. I don’t mind when he makes five minute appearances on ESPN here and there, but an entire game is tough.
Chris Collinsworth - I’ve always hated Collinsworth. He’s got this arrogance and entitlement around him at all hours of the day that makes me hate listening to him. Yeah he knows about the game and all that, but sometimes personal bias is too strong. He would have to basically cure cancer and save a bunch of puppies from a burning building to get on my good side.
Marc Jackson/Jeff Van Gundy – Van Gundy was a decent coach and a solid assistant for the Knicks but one thing he is for sure is hilarious. There will be five minute stretches where it’s just Marc Jackson and Mike Breen going back and forth, and Van Gundy will chime in with the most obvious or absurd comment. Jackson is OK, but he doesn’t play the best middle man/former player roles well. Former teammate Reggie Miller isn’t the greatest either but he’s in a better situation than Jackson. If Jackson and Van Gundy had different partners they may pull it off better, but together there is just to much air-headed-ness on air for my liking.
And last but not least, TSHQ’s Mt. Rushmore of Sports Commentators, these guys are the epitome of what good commentating is all about. After discussion, since we didn’t have any in common, we came to the agreement on which one’s from our lists would be placed on the Moutain.
Mount Rushmore of Sports Commentating: It’s a gift to the public every game they call