Joe Buck and Jim Nantz, Sportscasters or corporate shills?: Slate asks - yawn - are Buck and Nantz the best TV can do?
posted by gradys_kitchen to general at 02:55 PM - 50 comments
Both, especially Nantz, are as safe as you can get. CBS doesn't ever have to worry about Nantz deviating from what's expected, or that he'll embarrass them. The Masters broadcast proves the guy is actually nothing but a robot who can be programed, what with all the description requirements Augusta National places on him/CBS (ex. refering to the crowd as "patrons"). I agree with the first statement: Yawn. He's like the kind of guy you want your daughter to go to the Prom with: Boring, but safe.
posted by dyams at 03:41 PM on February 01
I couldn't get past the first sentence. The October-to-April stretch is the prime rib on the sports menu. On the schedule for those seven months: the World Series, the Super Bowl, March Madness, and the Masters. Of course, three of those seven months have absolutely none of those events. That's a lot of gristle.
posted by BullpenPro at 04:01 PM on February 01
Of course, three of those seven months have absolutely none of those events. That's a lot of gristle. No, the other seven months are the fat. As in, "Are you gonne eat your fat?" Sorry, couldn't find a photo of Spaulding.
posted by hawkguy at 04:19 PM on February 01
I went in expecting to agree and I did. But that's a hell of a long way around to say they're part of the blandness that is sports broadcasting. The closest he gut was in mentioning how name matter s more than talent now. It seems like the only other thing that matters is having the default, Connecticut School of Broadcasting announcer voice. Personality and actual insight are frowned upon.
posted by yerfatma at 04:48 PM on February 01
I can tolerate Nance and Sims, even though Sims tends to fall in love with quarterbacks. I'm not really sure he understands defensive football as well as offenses, but he tries. As far as Joe Buck is concerned, listening to him is like having your calculus class taught by an elementary education major. He knows very little about what he is describing, and is annoying to boot. When he and McCarver do the MLB game of the week, I usually find time to cut the lawn. Every once in a while you will hear a clip of Jack Buck doing a game. The difference between the 2 Bucks is enormous. About the only thing Buck has going for him is J Buck's Restaurant in Clayton, MO (west side of St. Louis). The food and atmosphere are pretty good.
posted by Howard_T at 04:48 PM on February 01
Eh. I'll take bland over vibrantly irritating any day of the week. I don't get the point of trashing these guys for not being exciting enough, or for staying in line with their employers. I would so much rather have a bland broadcast than have to hit the mute button -- at least I still get the nat sound. If the game isn't holding my interest, I don't want or need a broadcaster to compensate on the entertainment scale. I don't remember a time when I thought either of these guys was the worst broadcaster in the booth.
posted by BullpenPro at 05:21 PM on February 01
I've never had a problem with Nantz, he's boring, but comfortable. But I still get a little pissed whenever I think of the rant Buck went on when Moss faux mooned the fans. I'll agree with the article that Buck is a bit of a shill, but I think it wasn't all fear for his employers getting fined. He is, simply, a tool. (For a few chuckles, check out these two links. One is a list of Super Bowl predictions, the other a spoof of ESPN. For the record, I swear I am not affiliated in any way with the site, nor am I a shill.)
posted by forrestv at 06:08 PM on February 01
I'm trying to remember any sports commentator (in a major US sport, that is) in broadcast television that I think is genuinely interesting, and failing. I can think of a few who have grated, but none that really add much on the positive side. I dunno, you find it in print, you find it in radio (to a lesser and vanishing degree)...is it the medium?
posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:44 PM on February 01
I'm trying to remember any sports commentator (in a major US sport, that is) in broadcast television that I think is genuinely interesting, and failing. Curt Gowdy Vin Scully John Madden Tommy Heinson Charles Barkley Don Cherry Derek Sanderson Jerry Remy Andy Brickley
posted by yerfatma at 08:11 PM on February 01
Nance really irritates me, mostly because he has these pre-prepared phrases that he issues at the end of a big game. I can just imagine him sitting around his hotel suite trying them out and attempting to come up with the cheesiest possible combination of words. Joe Buck, I can't stand. The #1 thing that drives me nuts about Buck is that he consistently caters to the person who just turned on the game five minutes ago, who has no idea what's going on and only has a passing interest in the sport. Buck is constantly recapping what's happened in the past, making sure to bring up all the stupid media storylines. Then he speculates. Endlessly. What will happen if this guy gets out and then the next guy gets on, oh my God, then the pitcher and the hitter who allegedly hate each other will face off with the game on the line!!!! JUST CALL THE GAME. Amen to Yerfatma's last post. When I was living in LA one of my favorite things to do was watch Dodger games and enjoy Vin Scully's calls. When you've grown used to the 21st century announcing style, listening to one man call the game alone -- and call it intelligently, insightfully, and with none of the hype and blather -- is truly a revelation.
posted by Venicemenace at 08:20 PM on February 01
The days of Vin Scully sadly seem to have past. And Madden's best days sadly seem to have past him. He's become a parody of himself, but I do have to grudgingly admit I learned a lot from him growing up. I'm with BPP. I'd rather have some bland schmoe than some guy who makes my ears bleed. Nantz really doesn't bother me, but I do agree with VM about his pre-made phrases. I can't stand the announcer who thinks he's a comedian and thinks we tuned in to hear his act instead of watching a game.
posted by SummersEve at 09:28 PM on February 01
Vin Scully is so good, and almost worth the investment in XM Radio by himself. His broadcast style has many strengths, but I think his greatest is his awareness of his medium and his ability to sustain the drama that is occurring on the field of play without manipulating it to any great degree. He is equally good on TV and radio with regard to his timing. His dramatic pauses give the audience a chance to react to what is happening on the field without making you feel like your missing anything by his silence, and he jumps back in as though he can sense when the listener has stopped screaming (or crying) and brings us back up to speed. It's not a teachable talent, I suspect, or I would think we'd have more of it. To yerfatma's list, I would add these: Bill White Tony Kubek Jim Kaat Jon Miller Bob Uecker
posted by BullpenPro at 09:37 PM on February 01
For those of us who love golf, Jim Nantz is the patron saint of our sport. Keep bringing class into our living rooms, Jim, and I hope you do get to broadcast 50 Masters tournaments.
posted by mjkredliner at 11:17 PM on February 01
Easy with that patron saint stuff, hombre. You like who you like, but this golf fan finds Nantz as boring as watching paint dry. Ben Wright, besides occasionally sounding like a misogynist twit, has forgotten more about golf than Jim Nantz will ever know. Also, I must respectfully add Keith Jackson to yerfatma's list. I loved a college football game with Keith Jackson.
posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:03 AM on February 02
I'm trying to remember any sports commentator (in a major US sport, that is) in broadcast television that I think is genuinely interesting, and failing. I really like Gary Bender, but maybe that's because he's a Jayhawk homer.
posted by hawkguy at 05:28 AM on February 02
I was thinking more about what's out there now, on a regular basis, that I can actually see, than what's been in the past and what's found intermittently or in small markets. I mean, Steve Porino's great too, but I can't just switch on my television and get to see the guy. (and Madden...hard to call that one. He's clearly fallen off a lot and he's still capable of running rings around the mokes he works with.)
posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:20 AM on February 02
Eh. I'll take bland over vibrantly irritating any day of the week. I agree with you. Plus I generally don't find Nantz boring per se, but non-invasive. He's not shoving crap down my throat or trying to convince me of something. However, I am shocked that no one has mentioned what I think is by far the greatest annoucing team in sports: Mary Carillo and John McEnroe I think these two may be the best ever at their job.
posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:47 AM on February 02
i would like to add George Kell to that list. Grew up listening to him call Tiger games
posted by texasred at 07:51 AM on February 02
My friend and I were talking the other day about who we'd rather have, a pro broadcaster tryin to be a sports fan, or a real sports fan tryin to be a broadcaster... we both took the latter. Perhaps many of us are tiring of the repetitive, boring nature of these square pegs filling square holes. We're due for change - Go Wilbon and flag bearer - (easier than spelling his name). For all I know these guys have a broadcasting background, but their passion is legit, and more importantly untamed.
posted by 2 time mvp of the shittiest team ever at 07:58 AM on February 02
drives me nuts about Buck is that he consistently caters to the person who just turned on the game five minutes ago............. that's usually me, so I like him a lot. (I think there's a lot of me's.)
posted by Bill Lumbergh at 08:22 AM on February 02
Ben Wright, besides occasionally sounding like a misogynist twit, has forgotten more about golf than Jim Nantz will ever know. Ben Wright, besides being known in the CBS golf production trailer as "Ben seldom Wright, but never in doubt" and The Boob on the tube" was an "incorrigable talker" who owes his sobriety and many second chances at a broadcasting career at least partially to Jim Nantz. Also, Jim was a good enough player to be recruited by, and play for, legendary University of Houston golf coach Dave Williams on a team that included future PGA tour pros Fred Couples, Nick Faldo, and Blaine McAllister, I have yet to see anthing suggesting Ben could ever play at reasonably high level.
posted by mjkredliner at 08:28 AM on February 02
Damn the broken egg timer that dictates the edit time.
posted by mjkredliner at 08:30 AM on February 02
This article doesn't really sell me on Buck being lame. One dumb response to a Randy Moss stunt doesn't make the guy a terrible broadcaster. I like the Buck-Aikman team on NFL games. Aikman's one of the hardest working analysts in a TV booth covering football and he doesn't carry around the former athlete's reluctance to criticize players. Buck works well with him. They aren't Madden-Summerall in their prime, but when you live in a market like Jacksonville that always gets spares like Steve Tasker calling games, you appreciate simple competence.
posted by rcade at 08:41 AM on February 02
ho owes his sobriety and many second chances at a broadcasting career at least partially to Jim Nantz. Play the ball, not the man. I'm only really interested in human beings with flaws, not automatons like Nantz.
posted by yerfatma at 08:54 AM on February 02
Play the ball, not the man. Read the article I linked to RE: Ben Wright. If he spewed the same things on this site that he has on television and in interviews, you would be one of the first in line to hold his ass to the fire.
posted by mjkredliner at 09:14 AM on February 02
Please don't tell me what I would do. I am wildly inconsistent and hypocritical, so I don't think you can safely guess. We're discussing who's interesting, not who's a good person. Augustine got to be a Saint in spite of being an asshole.
posted by yerfatma at 09:43 AM on February 02
To be fair, yerfatma, Don Cherry (generally) just does a short studio piece once a week, rather than actual game broadcasting, which I think might be a touch easier to stay "interesting"...(which he is, no doubt). Barkley also fits into the same category, methinks. But to the human beings with flaws point, I really love the Toronto Raptors' Chuck Swirsky (pbp) and Jack Armstrong (colour). Swirsk is an unabashed homer with unparalleled energy, and Armstrong is a very knowledgeable guy who calms Chuck down without being a dick about it. For me, they are an integral part of the Raptors feel-good story this season. (Has anyone else around the league heard the Toronto guys when NBA TV does those random games from other markets? I know that I have caught a bunch of other local announcing teams that way, and a lot of them are also pretty bland. Though Red Kerr calling Nocioni "Noach" always seems to crack me up.)
posted by smithers at 09:44 AM on February 02
Beyond the Moss incident, Buck just has a tendency to criticize anything outside the norms and seemingly fails to take context into account. And to me, his voice and situational vocal fluctuations are just plain annoying and mistimed. Perhaps it is his undying tendency to simply stick to the status quo and cliche that bothers me. The Moss incident simply happens to be a superb in-a-nutshell example of Buck's style, which is why it is so often referred to. McEnroe and Carillo definitely go along well together, and I wish we could see more of teams like those two. The challenge is simply finding someone with a good knowledge of the game, personality, and ability to not be offensive to the audience. Though personally, I don't often seem to see the "knowledge" factor kick in during most network TV broadcasts anyway. Barkley is a great example (though he's on premium TV) - he can say some damn stupid shit, but he also has a distinct and funny personality that made him be warranted a good announcer in an earlier post. I would love change, but so long as the status quo doesn't interfere with the league's growth, I don't see why there would be change.
posted by PublicUrinal at 09:44 AM on February 02
I am wildly inconsistent and hypocritical OK.
posted by mjkredliner at 09:57 AM on February 02
McEnroe and Carillo definitely go along well together... They do go well together, but I seem to hear undercurrents of the following: JM: "How can they stick me on a broadcast with this opinionated b----?" MC: "John, you are such an idiot for your opinion about that shot." Does anyone else hear that? By the way, even though they were mostly radio broadcasters, you have to add Ernie Harwell and Ned Martin to the list of greats.
posted by Howard_T at 10:02 AM on February 02
The #1 thing that drives me nuts about Buck is that he consistently caters to the person who just turned on the game five minutes ago, who has no idea what's going on and only has a passing interest in the sport. As someone who's done a fair bit of broadcasting, this is one of the first things you learn -- there are always new people tuning in, so say the score often and give a short recap occasionally. You might find it aggravating, but it's a hell of a lot more annoying to listen to a game on the radio and have to wait 15 fucking minutes to find out the score.
posted by wfrazerjr at 10:09 AM on February 02
Vin Scully is so good, and almost worth the investment in XM Radio by himself. MLB.com offers a radio package for like $15 for the season. Vin Scully is definitely worth that. I would add Harry Kalas to the list. His best days are behind him, and he was never as good as he was when he was with Richie Ashburn. But he's still better than the new folk. I'm also very glad to see Jon Miller's name on BPP's list. I like listening to him, but my friends think I'm crazy.
posted by SummersEve at 10:28 AM on February 02
Miller's incredible on the radio; I buy MLB.Com's audio subscription every year and have listened to the Giants all the time because of him. Their pregame show was also the most lively in baseball until they fired one of the participants for something he said.
posted by rcade at 10:53 AM on February 02
Jon Miller doing an impersonation of Japan's biggest baseball announcer, who basically ripped off Vin Scully 100% is amazing. One of my biggest complaints about Joe Morgan is that he's such a drag he makes Jon Miller boring. I am wildly inconsistent and hypocritical OK. I'm not really.
posted by yerfatma at 11:10 AM on February 02
posted by mjkredliner at 11:21 AM on February 02
Eh. I'll take bland over vibrantly irritating any day of the week. I agree. So long as the announcer doesnt annoy me I can enjoy the game. As far as announcers I can't stand go, I would have to put Joe Thiesman at the top of that list. Monday night football was great this year because of Kornhiesers constant jokes directed at thiesman.
posted by Steel_Town at 11:24 AM on February 02
...so say the score often and give a short recap occasionally... Fraze, on radio this is an absolute necessity, and when it is done well, it is both unobtrsive and informative. On TV you have the little box that will remind you of the score, count, inning, quarter, time remaining, etc., etc. One glance says it all. Game recaps also can be accomplished by a "bottom line" type of arrangement that can be shown during periods of relative inaction. Thus, my point is that TV broadcasters should let the actions on the field speak for themselves for the most part, and limit their comments to brief description and post-play analysis. Ray Scott was the best football announcer I ever heard, and he was the master of just shutting up.
posted by Howard_T at 12:21 PM on February 02
The master of just shutting up. Boy, there's a lost art.
posted by SummersEve at 12:29 PM on February 02
I'm lucky to get Marty Brennaman (HOF 2000) for every Reds' game - and his son Thom will be focusing on the Red's but has been national at times and pretty good, too. For football - I'm with rcade - Aikman is the best thing out there. And although I'm having a hard time coming up with a "close second" that should degrade the excellent job I think he does. Golf - I love Faldo and Azinger in the booth together. It stinks you have to rely on them missing cuts or not playing, but I could listen to their wit and knowledge every round of every tournament.
posted by littleLebowski at 12:36 PM on February 02
proofreader was out to lunhc, sorry ... regarding Aikman "nd although I'm having a hard time coming up with a "close second" that should NOT degrade the excellent job I think he does."
posted by littleLebowski at 12:37 PM on February 02
Add Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, and Frank Gifford to any list you want.They either stunk up the joint or were worth the price of gold.
posted by Ironhead at 12:38 PM on February 02
Nice article on Carillo. She is a very interesting person, in and out of the booth. And I'm going to defend Buck here. The little box in the corner gives only the score, not how the runs were scored, what drama has unfolded in the game, all of the pretext that makes the game from the point I tuned in more interesting. If you just want to know the score, there will be a boxscore on Yahoo! as soon as the game is over, I promise.
posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 12:40 PM on February 02
Thanks for the Carillo story; made me like her even more.
posted by yerfatma at 03:33 PM on February 02
What i would like to see is an announcer who unbiasly calls a game. You are broadcasting to everyone not the winning teams fans. Just look at the Eagles - Saints game and Darrell Johnston. He was pulling for the Saints the whole first half, and even on the half time show, they asked if he was aware that two teams were playing? The second half he called a total different game. Call the game, not who you want to win.
posted by TAZ29 at 04:13 PM on February 02
Souse, thanks for the link to the Carillo story. I did not know that she and John McEnroe were such good friends. Thus, my comments JM: "How can they stick me on a broadcast with this opinionated b----?" MC: "John, you are such an idiot for your opinion about that shot." are not valid. I can see now that it is two friends having a lot of fun "dissing" each other in good humor. As such, it is fun to hear.
posted by Howard_T at 05:54 PM on February 02
To me Joe Garagiola was the greatest in televised baseball. Its a crime he went to game shows and ended up on the dog show circuit.
posted by sickleguy at 07:47 PM on February 02
Listen, if Nantz was as good as everyone says he is...why is that he has never been rumored for any other network? It's becasue the other networks don't want him. Plain and simple...He's not that good. At the beginning of the SuperBowl, watch...he'll steal Musburgers line or something like it..."You're looking LIVE".. Did we forget the 1998 Nagano Olympics....they were aweful! Yeah, what a great job he did there Plus, the comment about your daughter taking him to the prom....I'm sure he has skeltons like everyone else....no one is that clean.
posted by bob83 at 08:02 PM on February 02
joe buck is ok - at least he's got a sense of humor. nance is just such a flatlining cbs yes man afraid to commit himself to any kind of controversial position on any subject. listen to him chew the fat with his golfing buddies mike/mad dog anytime to get an idea..
posted by swi at 08:13 PM on February 02
Yeah, Chris Russo is my idea of a blow-on-the-needle sort of personality. I do a lot of coke though.
posted by yerfatma at 09:58 PM on February 02
To me Joe Garagiola was the greatest in televised baseball. I really liked Joe, too. The guys with personality, a decent sense of humor, and who know and love the game like he did, just aren't around much anymore. Today, with all the glitzy production and replays, high definition and other technology, all the networks need are talking heads. You almost have to be a complete idiot not to understand what you're seeing. Several years back, Garagiola and some of his counterparts really had to educate the viewer, along with entertaining them (while not getting carried away and trying take away from the actual game).
posted by dyams at 07:27 AM on February 03
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