Everybody who has an interest in sports on any level has watched ESPN's SportsCenter, the most popular sports news show in history. I started getting into SportsCenter when I first realized that ESPN existed and that I was a sports nut.
Over the years, there have been some fantastic personalities to have graced that show, and I'd like to point out my personal Top 10 ESPN SportsCenter personalities.
John Buccigross is a pretty hilarious SportsCenter anchor, but probably wouldn't make too many people's "All-Time Top 10."
However, in 2006, he described himself as: "I'm 6-foot-4, 192 pounds. Mizuno MP 33 irons. Big Run-DMC fan. Love chicken parm. Once played golf with Ray Bourque and tried to intentionally three putt from 30 feet so I could say I shot a 77 playing golf with Ray Bourque. Instead, the slippery downhill putt went in and I shot a 75 not playing golf with Brett Lindros."
He won me over with that, and that alone may have nudged him into my Top 10.
That article is here - http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/playoffs2006/columns/story?columnist=buccigross_john&id=2429157
Chris Berman would be higher on the list of ESPN personalities, but his work on SportsCenter is completely overshadowed by his work on NFL Primetime, NFL Gameday, and the NFL Draft coverage on ESPN.
That being said, he has made some solid SportsCenter contributions over the years (including being a tenured professor at Bristol University), and I don't think an ESPN Top 10 of any sort could go without the Swami.
I've always liked Stuart Scott, but he's only ranked ESPN The Ocho. Booyah wore on me over the years, I have to admit, but the following catch phrases cemented his inclusion on this list:
- "I ain't sayin' nothin', but that ain't right."
- "Just call him butter...'cause he's on a roll."
- "As cool as the other side of the pillow."
- "It's my world. You're just a squirrel tryin' to get a nut."
- "Gonna move some furniture."
Unquestionably No. 1 on the "ESPN Personalities who should have never left SportsCenter" list, Kilborn moved on to be the forgettable first host of The Daily Show, and the host of the equally forgettable The Late Late Show.
His work on SportsCenter, though short-lived, was hilarious. Some of his top not-so-forgettable catch phrases:
- "Glove, exciting and new. Come aboard."
- "Good wood. Solid spank. Major league crank."
- "Jumanji!" (And when Juwan Howard did something awesome: Juwanji!)
- "Messed around and got a triple double."
- "He eyes it. He tries it. He buys it."
- "And he takes the ball and does that nifty little shot where he forces it through the rim."
Scott Van Pelt, who I met once at an airport and found to be a pretty nice guy, comes in at number 6 in this Top 10. He gives a lot of love to University of Maryland and Tenacious D, and in no way is that depressing.
- "That's levitation, Holmes."
- "Get to the chopper!"
- "That's a great pitch...for me to poop on." (I know that's a reference to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, but in the context I laughed my brains out.)
- "With powers comparable to the Wonderboy."
- "I can't get over the size of that Russian."
- "I AM...William Wallace!"
If you have not seen Ray Romano as Chet Harper sharing a fictional SportsCenter desk with Stuart Scott (played by Tim Meadows) on Saturday Night Live, google it right now.
- "Latest talk is that David Robinson is over the hill. But in my book, you gotta get to Whitecastle before the weirdos show up! Tonight at the Alamodome, he gets Happy-Go-Jackie on the big white guy like a donkey eating a waffle! Sweet Sassy Molassey! Get out the checkbook and pay grandma for the rubdown as the Spurs beat the Heat, 86-79! Stuart!"
- "Yeah! In action late last night, Sonics vs. Utah, John Stockton says, 'Hey, look at me - I'm a little teapot, I'll run right up your dress!' But then, Olden Polynice says, 'I'm not gonna pay a lot for this muffler!' But then Karl Malone says, 'Sweet Sassy Molassey! You are gonna pay a lot! And the cost is gonna be prohibitive!' Jazz wins, 99-93! Stu-pot!"
- "Yeah. You like it? Don't steal it! [ to the camera ] Okay! Penguins need a win against the Bruins to get to the 500 mark. Yes, they do! But Penguin goalie Peter Skudra says, 'Hey! Try not to shoot that puck up my pooper!' Yeah! But check out this guy - he says, 'I'll shoot the puck anywhere I want. And if that happens to be in your pooper, so be it!' Stu-manji!"
Charley Steiner was often overlooked, in my opinion. I am pretty sure everybody has seen the clip of Steiner's inability to contain himself when Carl Lewis "sang" the national anthem before a New Jersey Nets game. Furthermore, his roles in the Y2K and "Pool Boy" SportsCenter commercials were absolutely priceless.
While probably best known for "Outside The Lines," Bob Ley's contributions to SportsCenter over the years have been incredible.
Ley has been with ESPN since 1979, an original SportsCenter anchor. His thoughtful investigative reporting has brought a serious tone to the "catch-phraseology" that has consumed most of the SportsCenter anchors over the years.
Ley is not afraid to cover the controversial, emotional or tragic stories in sports, or the world. He (along with Trey Wingo) hosted the lone SportsCenter to air on September 11, 2001. I have a feeling ESPN wouldn't have had it any other way.
Keith Olbermann, who went on to become the liberal version of Bill O'Reilly, was half of "The Big Show" on SportsCenter. For most who have known SportsCenter for over 10 years, Olbermann's legacy precedes him. A few of his more memorable catch phrases:
- "He pulled a groin. His own we hope!"
- "He put the biscuit in the basket."
- "I am Kaiser Soze."
- "Take that for Alanis Morrissette."
- "He will drool the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse."
- "Ask not for whom the Belfour tolls, it tolls for thee."
- "It's deep, and I don't think it's playable."
Besides playing a major role in the Hootie & The Blowfish "Only Wanna Be With You" video, Dan Patrick is probably a first-ballot ESPN Hall of Fame Selectee, and he's probably one of the most recognizable faces in the sports media. Plus, he has a few funny and memorable catch phrases:
- "Dare I say, en fuego."
- "NOTHING but the bottom of the net."
- "The WHIFFFFFFF."
- "Gives him the high cheese."
- "Along with my tag team partner, I'm merely Dan Patrick."
- "You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him."
- "Goodbye. Game Over. Drive Home Safely."
In my opinion, SportsCenter was never better than when Kenny Mayne was behind the desk. He took the idea of "catch phrases," and made them "high comedy." Because of this, he cements himself atop my list of "Top 10 SportsCenter Personalities." I present into evidence:
- "Your puny ballparks are too small to contain my gargantuan blasts! Bring me the finest meats and cheeses for a clubhouse feast!"
- "I'm not sure what the pitch is, but it tastes like chicken."
- "I am amused by the simplicity of this game."
- "Take a seat. More beer for me."
- "But we all know that games aren't played on paper...they are played by little men inside our TV sets."
- "And the players are gay...and joyful."
- "Rod Beck, where it's at."
- "Everyone put your hands up, way up in the air, and wave them as if there are no repercussions."
- "Jeff Gordon takes the checkered flag, and he'll have to give it back for the next race."
- "Obviously, he hasn't watched Tom Emanski's "Defensive Drills." It's endorsed by Fred McGriff, you know."
- "Later on the car was torn apart by wild dogs."
- "He hit it over some fencing they had set up in the outfield."
- "Only Barnes and Noble lets someone stand around longer doing nothing."
- "Barry Sanders went over the 2,000-yard rushing mark today. Not in one game, that would be a record or something."
And my personal favorite:
- "He scored 13 off the bench. Had he been on the bench, he'd have been out of bounds."
***See more of Justin at www.turningtwo.com