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Off Topic Friday: Who's Your Favorite Announcer?

Dex over at Gas Lamp Ball, SBN's fine Padres blog, recently posed an interesting question. Who's your favorite announcer. Not content to let us answer on our own, he supplied a list of announcers, commentators and talking heads to choose from. Here's who was on it:

Bryant Gumbel
John Madden
James Brown
Greg Gumbel
Bob Costas
Jim Nantz
Al Michaels
Marv Albert
Dick Enberg
Joe Buck
Chris Berman
Dan Patrick
Terry Bradshaw
Troy Aikman
Deion Sanders
Mike Ditka
Tim McCarver
Boomer Esiason
Bill Walton
Peter Gammons
Jon Miller
Mike Tirico
Jim Lampley
Kenny Mayne
Barry Melrose
Skip Bayless
Stephen A. Smith

He originally asked for our top ten, but I took a little different route. Here are my top five and bottom five. I'd love to get you comments on them and the list.

  1. Peter Gammons - As a fan, Peter Gammons is one of the fewsportscasters I'll actually stop what I'm doing to listen to. The best thing about Gammons is nothing appears forced. He legitimately seems to love baseball and conveys a sense of pure joy that he's actually getting paid to do what he does. His opinions are insightful. His information is top notch. And most importantly, when he's wrong (and it's not often), he admits his mistakes without attempting to pin the blame on someone else. He seems to have an emotionally attachment to baseball that is so strong it actually makes the disenchanted baseball fan remember why they liked the game in the first place.
  2. Jon Miller - The Golden voice of baseball in my opinion. I still miss the days he used to broadcast for the Birds (stupid Angelos). Like Gammons, you get the feeling he's just a fan who loves what he does. There's no conceit or arrogance in his tone or cadence. It's almost as if his play by play is a friendly conversation with a new friend. Whoever paired him with Joe Morgan ought to be shot.
  3. Barry Melrose - You're probably sensing a theme here. Melrose consistently provides excellent analysis with good inside knowledge. His picks are generally on target and he doesn't talk down to his listeners or viewers. Critically, he brings a sense of happiness and joy to his job and the sport of hockey that seems to have been otherwise sterilized during the Bettman years. I legitimately miss Wednesday night hockey on ESPN because it meant Melrose would chime in.
  4. Troy Aikman - Surprise. I think Aikman's color commentary, from a pure football perspective, is the best on television.  He can be a bit dry from time to time, but I attribute that to the yahoos that are in the box with him. Watch a game with Aikman breaking things down, you'll get smarter as the game goes along.
  5. Tie - Costas/Michaels/Ditka - Costas used to be higher, but as he's aged, he's gotten a little too full of himself. The last Olympics he covered were painful. Still, I consider him one of the premier broadcasters in the business. Michaels brings sanity to John Madden, plus he was good enough to mock himself in "The Replacements," top that off with a smooth delivery and he's still one of my favorites. And Ditka, pick him or he'll break your thumbs.
Honorable Mention (because he wasn't listed) - Brent Musberger - One long story to the next. He's got the ability to save an incredibly bad game with hysterically (sometimes unintentionally so) funny commentary, but also the ability to build the tension and momentum of a play, series or game as it reaches its apex. I'll watch a horrible college game just for Mussberger.

The Special Ring of Hell Edition for the Worst Broadcasters

  1. Bill Walton - Good God. Whoever dragged him out of the opium den and strapped a mic to his head needs to be punished. His broadcasts are so painful he somehow manages to detract from an already boring ass NBA. (sorry SBN NBA guys).  His speech is condescending. His voicesounds like he's just returned from a month long stay at an Amsterdam "coffee" shop. His opinions are generally off the cuff instances of the first thing that leaps into or out of his mind.
  2. Dan Patrick - Formerly one of my favorite broadcasters, but listening to his radio show is like jamming a q-tip too far down your ear. It hurts like hell and the ringing doesn't go away for a week. Another in the long list of sportscasters who have been told they fart daisies and pee champagne. His commentary is generally a long list of things that irritate him about players or personalities that have annoyed him over the years. I can't remember the last time I heard something relevant come from him.
  3. Stephen A. Smith - We get it. You're angry. Blanket statements. Blanket allegations. But, unfortunately, plenty of volume. Panders to the athletes he likes and slams everyone else. So obsessed with his image that he actually difuses any good lead he has by being such a jackass.
  4. Skip Bayless - There are mummies with more flexibility in their face. Sadly, they'd probably give as much insightful commentary as Skip does. I've read/suffered through Bayless since he was a reporter in Dallas and can say he hasn't changed a bit. His schtick is to attack people in one way or another. He hasn't met a losing argument he doesn't love to trumpet or found a star-crossed athlete he doesn't love to slam.
  5. Joe Buck - By all accounts a nice guy, but I just can't stand him.There's something about his voice, his on air presence, or, well, him,that's off-putting in a way that can't be described. My loathing began years ago when Buck started calling baseball games on the national stage. I would turn off games he broadcasted, and still do. I wish Icould put my finger on a reason I loathe his commentary but I can't.