The best and the worst play-by-play guys

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When ranking the best play-by-play guys in the business, the top spot approaches unanimity. Vin Scully is as good as they get. His simple but descriptive style is welcome in any age where it seems everyone wants to be defined by certain calls. (See ya! Hegone! It is high…, etc.) I listened to some of the Dodgers-Phillies series on my BlackBerry and it was nothing but a pleasure. Had Matt Snyder of FanHouse not listed Scully atop his best and worst TV broadcasters list, people likely wouldn’t have read any further.

Of the remaining nine, only three are national guys: Bob Costas is second, Dan Schulman eighth, and Gary Thorne ninth. The Mets’ Gary Cohen ranks fourth; he’s the one good thing the Mets have going for them. Even after having for the past three years, I don’t have any strong opinions of any of these other guys. I guess that years of listening to Michael Kay causes me to tune out baseball commentators.

(Kay was also considered: “bad voice, good at drawing analysis from his partners.”)

The worst, of course, is Hawk Harrelson. He’s bad for sure, but he’s a parody of himself. It’s funny when heard occasionally, especially the Hegone! thing. Chip Caray and his fists rank second. It seems TBS realizes this, too. Both MLB playoff announcers made the list, with Joe Buck coming in at fifth.

Rosenthal: Mariners set to sign Figgins
Yanks will bid on Halladay, cut payroll
  • Fist O ‘Laziness

    Funnily enough I caught part of a MLBN classic game the other day with Vin doing the play-by-play and sure enough he said something along the line of, Player X “fists one down the right field line.”

  • Free Mike Vick

    i like Gary Thorne. I like Duane Kuiper. I’m actually not a big Gary Cohen fan…but thats just my personal opinion. and how in god name did john miller not make the worst list???

    and before this year i always thought Chip Carey was decent. But boy o boy…that went straight to hell in a hand basket.

    But Overall…i guess i never think announcers are as good as people make them out to be…nor as bad.(Except Vin Scully…he is every bit as good as people make him out to be..and some.)

  • Ed

    Things I remember about the postseason commentary this year:

    1) ALDS – Every single curveball thrown being called a slider by the announcers, along with commentary on how good Burnett’s slider is.

    2) ALDS – All the fisting comments.

    3) World Series – This exchange when Aceves did a little throwing in the bullpen while Rivera was on the mound:

    Buck: Maybe Aceves decided on his own to get a little work in.
    McCarver: Yeah, he knows there will be no more pitching changes tonight.
    Buck: Unless the game goes 16 or 17 innings.

  • pat

    Back in 1964 Scully was thisclose to signing with the Yankees. That would have been one of the best FA signings of the century. In my opinion he’s easily two or three classes ahead of any announcer currently working.

  • Eric Solomon

    Everyone agrees that Scully is the best. So why can’t something be done to get him to broadcast the playoffs/World Series????

    • Lanny

      Because FOX and TBS have their own guys and they dont bid millions to put someone else on.

  • Januz

    I have seen plenty of Hawk Harrelson, and I do not think Chi Sox telecasts are as bad as listening to Sterling and Suzan. Steve Stone is very credible on Comcast Sports (He has had plenty of practice of being a straight man to another dominating announcer (Harry Caray on WGN)). By the way, another good announcer is Dave Neuhaus on Mariner Games.
    I noticed the Angels and FSN West did not renew the contract for Rex Hudler for next year. He would be a great choice for the Yankees (Plus he is an ex-Yankee).

  • dch

    The ESPN Sunday night crew are horrible. They are idiots and Morgan is a lower case racist.

  • Yankee fan

    Ya know, I’m a huge Yankee fan, since like 8 years old. But I have to disagree with you on the Hawk. He loves his home team, and that love comes out (just like we love the Yanks) but he is also knowledgeable and fair. I currently live in another baseball market, and the announcers here also love the home-team, but are clueless and biased. So this is one Yankee fan that gives some love to the Hawk!

    • ColoYank

      Gotta disagree, Yankee fan. Being a homer is one thing, but he takes it too extremely far. And I also have to disagree on Jon Miller. If you never heard him on radio, you missed a real treat. He’s a great mimic, and does a completely uncanny impression of Mr. Scully. And he’s hilarious. I don’t think ESPN TV games are the best forum for him.

      One thing I do miss since moving from California, is Bill King doing the A’s games. He was just brilliant, rest his soul. When he teamed up with Lon Simmons after the latter’s unceremonious departure from the Giants’ broadcasts, that was an embarrassment of riches for Oakland. King was also unparallelled on the Raiders and Warriors games.

  • bobmac

    I’m an old guy and I grew up with Vin Scully so I am biased.Vin has decided to come back for another year so I implore that those of you that have the MLB package take time to listen to his game call.He does the game by himself and he never misses a pitch.The most maddening thing from what I hear locally is when the announcers talk amoung themselves and ignore the at bat.I realise that we can see what’s going on but I get the feeling that the announcers think that their views are more important than the game.Scully knows better.

  • Trish

    I’m old enough to remember Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola doing the Saturday NBC Game of the Week. Along with Messer/White/Rizzuto they were the soundtrack of my childhood.

    Glad to see Gary Thorne get some love. The Orioles are the “home team” here in Richmond VA along with the lowly Natinals (misspelling deliberate) and he and Jim Palmer are a good team. I’d add Buck Martinez to the list but JESUS GOD he has the most annoying voice ever. My nightmare broadcast team is Martinez and Suzyn Waldman. Seriously, I’d shoot myself two minutes into that.

  • Aj

    Why do you guys keep hating on Michael Kay? It seems like he’s just everyone’s punching bag. He’s extremely intelligent, knows the game, tells great stories loves the Yankees and plays it down the middle. All at the same time. If you want to hate anyone, hate hacks like Al Leiter.

    I would much rather listen to Kay than to Sterling and Waldman (not much of a compliment) and much rather than Joe Buck and Jim McCarver, or Joe Morgan or anyone from Fox, Espn, Sny or etc. Nothing is better than a Friday night Yankee-Red Sox game with Michael Kay, Paul O’Neil and David Cone/ Singleton.

    • Steve

      I agree completely. While I don’t think Michael Kay is anything great, he is in my opinion infinitely more listenable than John Sterling. Sterling thinks the broadcast is all about him and his schtick and home run calls, and not about calling an accurate game – it would be hard for a radio play-by-play announcer to commit much of a bigger sin in my opinion.

      And regarding Hawk Harrelson, there may not be a more annoying phrase in the English language than “he gone!”

  • Mike Axisa

    You know what’s scary about Hawk Harrelson? The ChiSox pulled him out of the booth in the mid-80’s and made him GM for six years.

    Imagine if the Yankees pulled Kay out of booth and made him the GM.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      You can put it on the booooooooooooooooooooard.

      • Jessie Spano


  • larryf

    At least Kay is buffered by Cone/Leiter/Singleton and others who played the game. Sterling and Waldman are torture-except for the homerun calls. Thank goodness we hit so many! Michael Kay went to the Bronx High School of Science-as I did-so he’s REALLY smart….

    Best all-time announcer: Marty Glickman on the radio for football….