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Top 5 Dream Broadcasting Combos

There are a lot of great broadcasters in sports today, but who are the best, and what are/would be the best combinations?  I take some that have existed, create a few, and submit to you my top five list.  @JoeBianchino

The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is over, and while I was watching my bracket dissolve, I found myself thinking about the tournament’s great announcers.  To me, a great announcing team can turn a good game into a great game and a great game into an absolute classic.  So I started to think about dream announcing combinations, ones that have already existed, and ones that I’d love to see created – no matter the sport.  Here’s my top five.  What’s yours?

HONORABLE MENTION – Anyone But Joe Buck and Tim McCarver – Baseball: I know a lot of people like these two, but too often I am simply unable to follow the disjointed ramblings of Tim McCarver, and Joe Buck’s unique ability to make calling a World Series seem like a chore is such a turn off.  It’s hard to fathom, sometimes, how much he seems to loathe the sport.

5 – Sam Rosen and John Davidson – Hockey: 100% homer pick.  I’m a big time Ranger fan and grew up on these two calling the Blue Shirts.  To me, the pair is hockey announcing at its finest.  Without question they were the voice of the Rangers, but they were always even handed in their calls.  They had great chemistry and a child like passion for the game that was ever constant.  “Woah baby!”  Check the tape, you’ll see what I mean.

4 – Pat Summerall and John Madden – Football: Yes, he became a caricature of himself toward the end – and the “Boom! Tough Actin’ Tinactin” commercials don’t exactly paint him as a brilliant orator – but in his hay day, Madden was an outstanding analyst.  He knew his stuff, and though he often rambled – regularly in an exponentially more disjointed fashion than McCarver – he always seemed to made sense and he had a habit of saying just the right thing – even when his analysis consisted of nothing more than a few guttural bumblings. Pairing him with Pat Summerall just put it over the top.  Madden the spectacular analyst, Summerall the incomparable ‘days of yore’ harkening voice.  The two were the voice of the NFL for generations of fans.

3 – Verne Lundqvist, Gary McCord and David Feherty – Golf: I’m not sure TV screens could handle this combination. Gary McCord is a little crazy.  David Feherty is out of his damn mind.  Their combination would be a refreshing, and insanely eccentric, jar to the stuffy paradigm of golf broadcasting.  Then again, while both know their stuff, if they were to be paired they would need some kind calm, mediating force to keep them from hijacking the entire broadcast and taking it to some dark and scary places.  Enter Verne Lundquist.  Verne has been a terrific golf announcer for years.  He possess that elder statesman class and poise, but is never afraid to enjoy himself. Without question, putting this much…personality into the booth together is a risk.  It could end with Feherty and McCord alienating everyone on tour – and their wives – or it could just in outright FCC disaster.  But it could also end with the most exciting golf broadcast ever…Probably shouldn’t test it out on the Master’s, though.

2- Ian Darke and Steve McManaman – Soccer: Yeah, yeah, yeah you don’t watch soccer.  Shut it. If you could manage to sit and pay attention to the game for a few minutes you’d realize that there may be no better announcing combination in professional sports.  There’s an absolute poetry to Darke’s commentary – a grace of tongue, an intimate familiarity with lofty vocabulary that too many American broadcasters wouldn’t be able to find in a dictionary.  His command of the language is equaled only by his brilliant understanding of when to talk, and when to let the play talk for itself. The pairing of his ability with McManaman’s honest analysis creates an absolute force.  They’re not afraid to criticize – harshly – or get themselves enthralled in the moment.  The chemistry and humor they share is one of a kind.  Plus…British people talk funny, and it’s fun to listen to.

1 – Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery – NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: In an ideal world, CBS would find a way to have Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery at every single tournament site.  Their sole job would be to call the last ten minutes of every close game the tournament had to offer.  Why? Because there is simply no one – NO ONE – who captures the excitement of Cinderella upsets and buzzer-beating game winners like these two.  In fact, I’m not sure there are two people in the world who get more swept up in them.  And that’s why they were – and would be – an amazing pair. The opposite of Joe Buck, try to find a time when these guys sound bored.  Curling, Squash, Cricket, I don’t care, if these guys are calling it, I’m watching it.  In fact, can we stop to think about Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery calling Olympic Curling?

Johnson: Paulsen releases the rock.  Sweepers going it at.  Sweeping harder now! Rock approaching the house!! APPROACHING THE BLUUUUUUUUE! OH! OH! … OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!!!! BULLS! EYE! BABY!

Raftery: ONIONS! The sweepers brought the rock in, tucked it right up in there and with – A LITTLE KISS! – knocked everything else out for the points!  DAGGERRRRRR!

I got goose bumps just writing it, and am now pumped for the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Bottom line, I love announcers who get caught up in the drama.  Their energy makes the experience of watching so much more enjoyable. These guys and a great NCAA tournament game?  It simply does not get better than that.  Disagree? Check the video.

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