There's a slight chance I put too much stock into play-by-play announcers. I feel as if they can have a direct effect on the game's enjoyability. Every tuesday during football season, I check Awful Announcing to find out who will be calling the Michigan and Lions games. Most of the time, my response is "ok." But sometimes I get excited (or saddened. More on that later).
There are certain moments during various sporting events that are engraved in your brain forever. You could never see that moment again and remember it as vividly as the new Macbook Pro retina super ultra colorful cornea clear crayola crayon pupil monitor. I am so hip and with it.
You remember those moments as if you were a part of them. You remember them clearly enough that you can recite the play-by-play word-for-word, shake-and-bake. The best announcers can capture the organic emotion of those moments naturally. Their skill is so ingrained in them that they get lost in the moment as a fan without skipping a beat as an announcer.
These are the top 5 best play-by-play announcers in all of sports today.
(Note: I wanted to throw Jim Nantz on here because he is very good at the Masters. However, he is so atrocious when calling college basketball that it ruins the Masters for me.)
HM1: Keith Jackson. Best ever. He doesn't make the list because he is retired, and therefore ineligible. He is, in my opinion, the best of all time.
HM2: Dave Strader. Number two man for hockey on NBC. Former play-by-play for the Red Wings. Just an overall joy to listen to, but I don't get to hear him that often anymore.
5. Brent Musberger
This will be an unpopular choice. A lot of people dislike him, and I am not quite sure why...
Yes, he has gotten a little up there in age, and it does seem to affect him a little bit. However, when you hear his voice, you know it's time for a big time college football game. ESPN has given Musberger the reigns as Chief announcer for college football, and for good reason. He has called over 3 trillion sporting events, including Rose Bowls, BCS Title Games, many versions of The Game, and most importantly, the Bourbon Bowl.
I get goosebumps whenever I hear, "You are looking live..." He says it before every big game, and it still gives me goosebumps. You know he must love saying that too. I bet sunday mornings after calling a big game, Brent sits at the kitchen table yelling, "You are looking live at a Western Omelette with wheat toast."
How bout a 'best of' montage?:
My favorite Musberger moment came from a game I wasn't even watching on tv because I was there. I wrote about it on my previous blog. Here's the video:
This whole video is Musberger and his best due to the lack of excitement in the first 3 quarters. It must've been bottled up.
At about the 7:00 minute mark, Denard finds a wide open Gallon, and Musberger exclaims in genuine shock, "They left him alone!" I think the gravity of that moment and true disbelief by Musberger will keep that moment in Kevbo's vault For. Ev. Er.
4. Sean McDonough
McDonough does many sports. Basketball, baseball, lacrosse, golf. But I think he excels at football (shocker). This call in the 1998 NCAA tournament was spectacular though.
What makes McDonough great is his ability to change emotions at the right time without seeming disingenuous. He is very good at understanding the natural flow of the game. That is why he can announce different sports at a high level. I don't know too many announcers who are good at football, basketball, baseball, and golf. (Jim Nantz. I'm looking at you. Stick to golf.)
I have two favorite McDonough moments, both involving Michigan football (the sooner you stop being surprised about things like this, the sooner we can go back to being best friends).
The first is the 2003 Michigan-Minnesota game. I always think of his voice when I think of that game.
The second is 2009 Michigan-Notre Dame. This is another game that I attended, so I didn't see the original telecast. But here it is:
Hey guyz, remember Tate Forcier? That kid's got moxy.
At the 4:00 mark, things start to get good. The final drive was very well done by Sean McD. At only 50 years old, he has some good years in front of him.
Top 3 after the jump...
3. Brad Nessler
Hey guys, did you know i like college football?
Does anyone remember a football analyst by the name "Paul Maguire?" He was an awful person who everyone openly ripped on. He was borderline senile, so the producers always made him do "wacky" things. My favorite blatant sign of disrepect for Maguire was in the 2007 UM-MSU game. At one point, they show him in the last row of Spartan Stadium, wind blowing something fierce. For those of who remember, it was very chilly that day. But they forced Maguire into a spot with cold 30 mph winds blowing so you couldn't hear him speak into his microphone. It is exactly like the time my neighbor and his buddies falsely told 8 year-old Kevbo that there was $200 underneath my super nintendo, and after I returned with no money, they had all left so I had no one to play with. This happened multiple times. This is exactly what they do with Maguire. Stick him into situations so no one has to deal with him.
I digress. The reason I bring this up is this:
Nessler bitchslaps Maguire on the air. "That's what I just said Paul." And he says it with so much frustration. I giggled.
Anyway, Nessler's the man. He's called many Michigan games over the years, so maybe that's a reason why I like him so much. I mean, he did call this:
I got very excited when I found out Nessler was doing the 2012 Sugar Bowl. The win and announcing crew were the two best things about that sloppy, frustrating game.
I guess I can move away from football now...
2. Gus Johnson
There's a reason this guy is revered as one of the best. He has his own soundboard, for pete's sake!!! ('For pete's sake' is a phrase that people 40 and over use to really stress their point and hammer it home).
This was the video that I think put him on the map.
With the caaaAAAAATCH...
Some people say he's overrated. Those people probably think that Celine Dion is wise beyond her years.
Whatever. Here are more videos:
"HA HA...College basketball"
Gus Johnson is puuuuure.
1. Mike "Doc" Emrick
Four words: Poetic, Respectful, Excitable, Fun. The NHL-NBC deal has some positives and negatives, but by far the biggest positive was cementing Doc as the main play-by-play man. The final minutes of any big hockey game are exciting enough as it is. When you place the exciting, venerable Mike Emrick behind the mic, it amplifies the intensity 100-fold.
The guy just loves the game. I've mentioned it a few times, but the best announcers are the ones who show the truest emotion without losing any of their skill. This is a great example:
You can hear the true excitement from Doc, an American. Here's his call on Parise's game-tying goal in the Gold Medal Game.
Can't imagine what would've happened if they had eventually won...
It's no surprise that my favorite Emrick moment was the 2008 Cup Finals. Here are the final moments...
So there you have it. Those are Kevbo's top 5 CURRENT play-by-play guys. Next week, I'll give you top 5 worst play-by-play people.