15 Sportscasters Worth Listening To
In my last article, I featured 15 sportscasters that make me change the channel. You can find that article here:
Just to show that I am not a complete Negative Nancy, here are 15 of my favourite on-air sports personalities, in no particular order.
Like my previous list, keep in mind I reside in Canada, so there will be a considerable amount of Canadian content.
Also, I don't watch basketball, so if you are here looking for Chuck Swirsky or Dick Vitale, you aren't going to find them. So sorry.
As well, this list is limited to people I've actually seen or heard. So before you give me grief for excluding Ernie Harwell, let me say that I never had the chance to hear him call a game.
McDonough is on this list for his baseball work, primarily when he was the lead play-by-play guy for CBS back in the early 1990's.
He was in the booth for both Blue Jays World Series victories and the two calls of the final plays in both 1992 and 1993 Series are ones I will never forget.
"Nixon bunts! Timlin on it, throws to first. For the first time in history, the world championship banner will fly north of the border!"
"Well-hit, down the left field line! Way back and GOOOONNEEE! Joe Carter with a three-run homer. The winners and still world champions, the Toronto Blue Jays!"
Seems like yesterday. Back when I was too young to realize Tim McCarver really isn't that good.
McDonough was also the Boston Red Sox play-by-play man until 2004, before leaving to call NCAA basketball. I'm sure he's very good at that, too.
Give me Sean McDonough over Joe Buck any day.
Speaking of Joe Buck, he suffers from Chip Caray syndrome. It seems both can't live up to their far superior, more genuine elders.
Before Sean McDonough, Jack Buck was the voice of MLB on CBS. His deep, gravelly voice helped me fall in love with baseball.
One of my first baseball memories is Kirk Gibson's walk-off pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series. Jack was front and center with the memorable "I don't believe what I just saw" call.
Three years later he called Kirby Puckett's walk off home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. I hated, nay, loathed the Braves back then so when I heard "And we'll see you tomorrow night," it was music to my ears.
Before my time, Buck was also a renowned football broadcaster.
Jim Nantz - CBS Golden Boy
He seemingly does it all for CBS. Golf, NCAA hoops, the NFL.
He's called the Masters, Super Bowls and Final Fours. He's won two Emmys. Not a lot he can't do or hasn't done.
His cool, calming calls have been a staple on lazy couch weekends for over a decade.
Nantz is also one of two men to host a Super Bowl, announce an NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game and host coverage of the Masters from Butler Cabin.
Brent Musburger is the other. Is he still around?
Bob Cole - Hockey Night in Canada
Now let me be perfectly clear. I know Bob Cole's star is fading. He's getting older and slower. I'm aware of that.
But I prefer to remember the Bob Cole from my childhood. The one I impersonated playing road and pond hockey and the one I still imitate playing video games.
Some of his calls over the years gave me goosebumps. Who could forget his work in the 2002 Olympic Gold Medal Game? I never will.
Long may you run, Bob.
Johnny Miller - NBC Golf Analyst
I like Johnny because he doesn't try to pull the wool over your eyes.
He's blunt and straight forward, never shy to criticize a player when he's made a mistake. That's something that a lot of sportscasters don't seem to have the testicular fortitude to do.
Some think he's snobby in his remarks, but let's not forget, he IS calling golf.
Kelly Hrudey - Hockey Night in Canada
A lot of people don't seem to like Hrudey in his role of studio analyst, but I have always found him smart and informative.
Even to the point where the guy should be considered for a coaching job somewhere down the line.
He's another guy who isn't afraid to point out when someone has made a mistake, and I just can't communicate enough how important that is for a sportscaster.
Jay Onrait - TSN SportsCentre Anchor
One of the few remaining reasons to watch a full hour of SportsCentre. The show's production and format is tired and played out, but Jay Onrait is just flat-out funny.
His comedic timing and sarcasm are bang-on. He is Canada's version of Craig Kilborn. CTV should give him his own show. Dan O'Toole can be his Andy Richter.
This one needs no explanation.
Listening to a Dodgers game called by Vin is just heaven for a baseball fan, even if you aren't an L.A. fan.
He is the last of a great generation of baseball announcers.
Pat Foley - Blackhawks Play-by-Play
A hometown guy doing play-by-play for the team he grew up loving, Pat Foley is living his dream and excelling at it.
He and Eddie Olcyzk are one of the best tandems in all of hockey.
The emotion and passion Foley brings to Blackhawks games is second to none in the NHL.
His quick, high-pitched "he shoots, he scores-s-s!" is ingrained into every Hawks fans' brain.
Gerry Dee - The Score's
First and foremost, Gerry Dee is a stand-up comedian. You may know him from some season on Last Comic Standing.
He also midnights as "Gerry Dee: Sports Reporter" for The Score in Canada, and his segments there are pretty much the only reason to tune into the network these days.
He plays up his over-the-top narcissism and when that is combined with his dry comedic stylings, Dee is simply laugh-out-loud gold.
Just Google "Gerry Dee, Sports Reporter" and thank me later.
Shulman started out in Canada, working for TSN and was the voice of the Blue Jays for an all-too-short time.
It didn't take long for suits down south to recognize Dan's talent and ESPN eventually snagged him from us in 2001.
He was an integral part of that network's baseball coverage for several years, and was behind the mic for Barry Bonds' record-breaking 754th homer in 2007.
These days, Shulman is a basketball guy, calling NBA games on ESPN, and he is the network's lead play-by-play man for NCAA basketball.
His best work will always be from the diamond.
I would love to see him calling Sunday Night Baseball instead of Jon Miller. Not that I think Miller is particularly bad, but in my opinion, after Vin Scully, Shulman is the best in the business right now.
Sports Illustrated agrees. They recently named him the best play-by-play announcer of the last 10 years.
Mike Lange - Penguins Play-by-Play
Well you can call me a homer for this one, but fact of the matter is, Mike Lange is a legend.
Inexplicably, you can only hear Lange on the radio now. In 2006, Lange was demoted to radio by Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh.
His replacement on TV was and remains to be the surly, all around awful Paul Stiegerwald.
Lange has a number of signature calls and colourful expressions, known to Penguins fans as simply, "Lange-isms."
Do yourself another favour and do a You Tube search for him.
Buy that guy a drink and get his dog one, too!
Bob McKenzie - TSN Hockey Insider
I am fully convinced that Bob McKenzie knows everything about hockey. Literally. He knows what kind of dressing Taylor Hall's dad likes on his garden salad.
Trapped on TSN, where over-analyzing anything to do with hockey is an apparent must, McKenzie is a breath of fresh air and a nice change of pace.
He isn't afraid to bring up the fact that people may be putting too much stock into Sidney Crosby taking a squirt of Gatorade after his first shift.
Bob is very well connected, and when it comes to trade deadline day, he might as well be the Prime Minister of Canada.
Jim Hughson - Hockey Night in Canada Play-by-Play
The predecessor to Shulman for TSN's Jays telecasts, Hughson was great at calling ball games.
He now is the number one guy on Hockey Night in Canada, having passed Bob Cole in that regard. Jim has called the last two Stanley Cup Finals, and will call his third this season.
When CBC picked up a few Blue Jays games starting in 2007, Hughson was the natural choice to call them.
While I enjoy his hockey work, I'll always enjoy his baseball work more.
One of Hughson's great qualities is knowing when to be quiet and let the emotion of the crowd itself tell the story. Gary Thorne should take notes.
Last, but certainly not least on this list.
While I never got to hear Mel call a ball game, I remember him from his work on "This Week in Baseball", which has always been my favourite TV show, period. The theme music is my ringtone (not really, but it will be after I finish his slide).
Watching that show and hearing Allen mutter "How a-bout that?!" was my main reason for getting out of bed on Saturdays as a kid. Cartoons be damned, give me my Mel Allen.