...to ME. I watch a lot of sports as some of you know and since I am forced in many cases to listen to either expert analysis or gratuitous bloviation I would like to give my two cents about the best and worst in sports commentary.
1. Al Michaels- NBC NFL Football
Over the past few years the team of Al and John Madden has been, for my money, the best in sports. It is sad that Madden is hanging it up and Chris Collinsworth (who almost made my list of the worst) is replacing him. Al is the best play-by-play guy in the biz to me. He is professional and knowledgeable. And who will ever forget his impromptu "Do you believe in miracles?!!" when the U.S. hockey team beat Russia at the 1980 Winter Olympics?
2. Joe Buck- Fox NFL Football
If Michaels and Madden are the best, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on Fox Sundays are a close second. Joe has the genes for great sports commentary. His father Jack, longtime voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, was also one of the greatest.
3. Verne Lundquist- CBS College Football and PGA Golf
"The Golden Throat", as he's known, is my favorite play-by-play guy for college football. He currently does all of the SEC games on CBS on fall Saturdays. Nobody on any network comes close. He's made many memorable calls in his career including a few in Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore.
4. Suzy Kolber - ESPN Monday Night Football sideline reporter
An intoxicated Joe Namath infamously said, TWICE, during a live interview that he wanted to kiss Suzy . But I don't blame him. She's the best female in sports television to me. She never stumbles over words, is always cheery and obviously very smart. I thought when they moved Monday Night Football to ESPN from ABC the only thing they got that outclassed NBC's new Sunday Night was the ladies on the sideline: Suzy and Michelle Tafoya. Actually I think they do a better job than the three men in the booth and I like Mike Tirico.
5. Eli Gold - The voice of Alabama football, plus NASCAR and Arena football.
Okay, so I'm showing some bias here. Fact is I never get to hear Eli anymore because I don't live in Alabama but when I could I thought he was the best radio play-by-play I'd ever heard. He could have been an auctioneer he talks so fast but he never misses anything. He can tell a joke in the middle of a play and still give you every single detail on the field. He did a bunch of hockey early in his career. The fast pace of that sport probably attributes to his skill.
1. Billy Packer - CBS College Basketball Color Analyst
Few people have made my blood boil during a sports broadcast like Billy Packer. He comes across as an arrogant, big-mouth who never fails to let his personal opinions tarnish his color commentary. Lots of announcers will say things like "if I were the coach right now I would do this..." or " Coach X is probably saying this" or "coach X should do this". Billy Packer says "Coach X IS saying this right now" as though he's clairvoyant or has a hidden mike in the coach's pocket. Like Miss Cleo, Billy just knows .
Once during the national championship between Florida and Michigan State when MSU star Mateen Cleaves went out with an injury, Packer wouldn't shut up about how amazing Cleaves was. When Cleaves was about to come back onto the floor I thought Packer was going to faint with awe: "This crowd is going to erupt!" he prophesied. How about calling the game impartially rather than become a cheerleading prognosticator? No, that would be far too dignified for Billy!
2. Joe Morgan- ESPN MLB Color Analyst
Where's the mute button on this remote? Don't get me wrong. I know Joe Morgan was one of the greatest offensive baseball players of all time. I know Joe Morgan KNOWS his baseball. And that's just the problem. He knows so much he can't shut up. I get ear fatigue when Joe's commentating. You remember what you used to say as a kid when someone told you they had diarrhea or something? That's right, "Too much information!" That's Joe. Baseball minutae overload!
3. Dick Button- Figure skating color analyst
This guy could take a tip from Thumper's Mommy and Daddy. And his own Mommmy and Daddy sure gave him the right name! I find it curious that the one event at the Winter Olympics that gets the most hype, figure skating, is the one with the most critical, negative analyst of them all. He leaves casual observers with the impression that not only should none of the competitors get a medal they should be thrown from the building for sullying the artistry of the triple axel...whatever the heck that is!
4. Tim McCarver- Fox MLB color analyst
Like Joe Morgan (maybe it's a baseball thing) McCarver loves to hear himself talk. He overanalyzes everthing. And like Billy Packer he has no problem voicing his personal opinions about players and everything else as though we really care. He has annoyed me during the World Series on several occasions. He reminds you of a drunk at a bar who thinks you need to hear his comments on life. No thanks, fella, I gotta game to watch here, mmmkay? Look up the word "bloviate" in the dictionary and there's probably a picture of Tim.
5. Joe Thiesmann- NFL color analyst
There's a reason this guy is no longer doing games on ESPN or anywhere else. He just seems cranky when he covers a game. Hey Joe, get yourself a strong cup-o-joe, you're making me ill! He also ain't too bright. He once said, "The word 'genius' isn't applicable to football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein". Brilliant.
(Salsa is the condiment you can't live without in the latest poll)