Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch On The Best Game Callers In The Biz


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Season Ticket

In the latest episode of Season Ticket, guest host Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) and fellow sports media columnist Richard Deitsch discuss Boston sports media and Fox Sports’ surprisingly good World Series coverage. Then, they identify the best studio analysts and play-by-play announcers across sports. After the break, Chad offers his thoughts on Alex Cora and the similarities between the new Sox manager and Terry Francona.

Guest

Interview Highlights

On Boston sports fans and media

Richard Deitsch: There might not be a more passionate sports [fan] base anywhere in the country. The media is very, very aggressive and there’s a lot of them, so it makes for a really interesting beat. The two local sports stations really have a lot of power in the marketplace, just because of the numbers that listen to them. Obviously, the newspapers have a long and excellent tradition in journalism, so people read them. It’s a great media town because there’s a lot of smart people [and] there’s a lot of people paying attention and reading the media.

“I don’t think national programs, quite frankly, ever have a shot in these big cities”

Richard Deitsch

On local sports trumping national stories in Boston

Richard Deitsch: I think it’s among the most parochial sports towns in the country. When you’re in [Boston], you’re getting so much about the local teams that there’s not as much discussion nationally. For instance, whenever I’m in Boston, and let’s say there’s a big college football game going on in the South, you’re not hearing any of that on the big sports station at all. That’s what always strikes me—they are just so into their teams and that covers the landscape.

I don’t think national programs, quite frankly, ever have a shot in these big cities … You can’t [discuss national issues] in a city like Boston, where there’s multiple pro teams, there’s college teams there, and people are just so into the drama of the day-to-day Boston sports scene. Boston and New York, in that sense, are very much alike. This is no genius prediction, but ESPN radio will never win its time slot in either city.

On Fox Sports’ success covering the World Series

Richard Deitsch: They have finally figured it out … I think the reason it works is because you’re stunned that Alex Rodriguez would be this good as a studio analyst. Here’s this guy, one of the most polarizing players in the history of the game … he’s an all-timer and, generally speaking, you don’t see all-timers as analysts. Then, you combine [Rodriguez] with David Ortiz, who again fits into the A-Rod class as all-time, Hall of Fame-type player, and you don’t expect him to be a studio analyst; and then he starts yucking it up and having some fun.

What makes it work is that Kevin Burkhardt is far and away the best studio host, in my opinion, that Fox Sports has ever had … The greatness of the studio host is that you’re ego-free enough to set your analysts up to star. You drive the show, you occasionally make an insight, but you know full well that the viewers are coming to see the analyst’s opinions and that’s where Burkhardt is just great.

“Joe Buck doesn’t get a lot of credit. He had a reputation for being smug when he was younger. But I think he has really grown into the ‘big moment’ kind of broadcaster.”

Chad Finn, on his favorite game callers

On the best game callers in sports

Chad Finn: Joe Buck doesn’t get a lot of credit. He had a reputation for being smug when he was younger. But I think he has really grown into the “big moment” kind of broadcaster. He’s nailed a couple of championships here in New England where the call he had was better than the one we had from the local guys. But, to me, probably Al Michaels is still the best.

Richard Deitsch: My number one selection when you go across sports is Mike Emrick, the NHL play-by-play announcer. That is a tough sport to call because it’s so fast and it’s sometimes hard to [see] the puck. And Mike Emrick is just such an exceptional wordsmith; I’ve never seen a broadcaster do frantic better, and hockey has a lot of frantic moments, especially late in the third period. Al Michaels was second for me, still the gold standard in the NFL. Obviously, [hw has had] a legendary career; he has called most sports and has called them at an exceptionally high level.

“The rising star of play-by-play is Brian Anderson … Every time I hear that guy, I find I have been rewarded with a quality broadcast.”

Richard Deitsch, on his favorite game callers

Richard Deitsch

Story continues below

Subscribe to the podcast

Season Ticket

In the latest episode of Season Ticket, guest host Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) and fellow sports media columnist Richard Deitsch discuss Boston sports media and Fox Sports’ surprisingly good World Series coverage. Then, they identify the best studio analysts and play-by-play announcers across sports. After the break, Chad offers his thoughts on Alex Cora and the similarities between the new Sox manager and Terry Francona.

Guest

Interview Highlights

On Boston sports fans and media

Richard Deitsch: There might not be a more passionate sports [fan] base anywhere in the country. The media is very, very aggressive and there’s a lot of them, so it makes for a really interesting beat. The two local sports stations really have a lot of power in the marketplace, just because of the numbers that listen to them. Obviously, the newspapers have a long and excellent tradition in journalism, so people read them. It’s a great media town because there’s a lot of smart people [and] there’s a lot of people paying attention and reading the media.

“I don’t think national programs, quite frankly, ever have a shot in these big cities”

Richard Deitsch

On local sports trumping national stories in Boston

Richard Deitsch: I think it’s among the most parochial sports towns in the country. When you’re in [Boston], you’re getting so much about the local teams that there’s not as much discussion nationally. For instance, whenever I’m in Boston, and let’s say there’s a big college football game going on in the South, you’re not hearing any of that on the big sports station at all. That’s what always strikes me—they are just so into their teams and that covers the landscape.

I don’t think national programs, quite frankly, ever have a shot in these big cities … You can’t [discuss national issues] in a city like Boston, where there’s multiple pro teams, there’s college teams there, and people are just so into the drama of the day-to-day Boston sports scene. Boston and New York, in that sense, are very much alike. This is no genius prediction, but ESPN radio will never win its time slot in either city.

On Fox Sports’ success covering the World Series

Richard Deitsch: They have finally figured it out … I think the reason it works is because you’re stunned that Alex Rodriguez would be this good as a studio analyst. Here’s this guy, one of the most polarizing players in the history of the game … he’s an all-timer and, generally speaking, you don’t see all-timers as analysts. Then, you combine [Rodriguez] with David Ortiz, who again fits into the A-Rod class as all-time, Hall of Fame-type player, and you don’t expect him to be a studio analyst; and then he starts yucking it up and having some fun.

What makes it work is that Kevin Burkhardt is far and away the best studio host, in my opinion, that Fox Sports has ever had … The greatness of the studio host is that you’re ego-free enough to set your analysts up to star. You drive the show, you occasionally make an insight, but you know full well that the viewers are coming to see the analyst’s opinions and that’s where Burkhardt is just great.

“Joe Buck doesn’t get a lot of credit. He had a reputation for being smug when he was younger. But I think he has really grown into the ‘big moment’ kind of broadcaster.”

Chad Finn, on his favorite game callers

On the best game callers in sports

Chad Finn: Joe Buck doesn’t get a lot of credit. He had a reputation for being smug when he was younger. But I think he has really grown into the “big moment” kind of broadcaster. He’s nailed a couple of championships here in New England where the call he had was better than the one we had from the local guys. But, to me, probably Al Michaels is still the best.

Richard Deitsch: My number one selection when you go across sports is Mike Emrick, the NHL play-by-play announcer. That is a tough sport to call because it’s so fast and it’s sometimes hard to [see] the puck. And Mike Emrick is just such an exceptional wordsmith; I’ve never seen a broadcaster do frantic better, and hockey has a lot of frantic moments, especially late in the third period. Al Michaels was second for me, still the gold standard in the NFL. Obviously, [hw has had] a legendary career; he has called most sports and has called them at an exceptionally high level.

“The rising star of play-by-play is Brian Anderson … Every time I hear that guy, I find I have been rewarded with a quality broadcast.”

Richard Deitsch, on his favorite game callers

Richard Deitsch [cont]: I’m [also] a big Ian Eagle fan. [He’s] just a guy who is so superior in terms of calling a game and also uses humor, which you don’t often see broadcasters do. And then, the last one I’ll give you is the rising star of play-by-play—might be number one five years from now—is Brian Anderson … Every time I hear that guy, I find I have been rewarded with a quality broadcast.

: I’m [also] a big Ian Eagle fan. [He’s] just a guy who is so superior in terms of calling a game and also uses humor, which you don’t often see broadcasters do. And then, the last one I’ll give you is the rising star of play-by-play—might be number one five years from now—is Brian Anderson … Every time I hear that guy, I find I have been rewarded with a quality broadcast.




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