Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Is this a common reaction?

I just flipped to TSN at Wild-Canucks 2nd intermission. I wasn't even able to watch Steve Simmons for 5 seconds before hitting the PREV CH button. What an incredibly and thoroughly unlikeable ass.


On this point, even the Battle of Alberta can't keep us apart.

Simmons is a tool.

Oh yeah, I have the same reaction. He has to be the dumbest guy in sports, next to Strachan.

Sports journalists are a sad lot.

How about Simmons and Greg Millen in a deathmatch. Either way, the fans win.

You are not alone. Simmons is hopeless. In fact, when you look at the guys who make their living as talking hockey heads (Simmons, Kypreos, Strachan, Fischler, Farber ... I could list a dozen more, you know who I'm talking about) I gotta wonder how these guys get hired in the first place. The guys I drink with when I go out to watch hockey are a lot smarter, better looking and funnier than these bums.

So is there any commentator/play-by-play man we like? Probably for sentimental reasons I like most of the HNIC crew, even the near-senile tandem of Bob Cole and Harry Neale, and yes, even Kelly Hrudey, who at least tries to break down plays and explain tactics a little bit (plus the Tiger Beat hair makes us all swoon).

Ray Ferarro on the Oilers' broadcasts isn't all that bad on the whole. At least he'll mention who hasn't been playing well or talk about key matchups.

Play-by-play guys all seem the same to me unless they screw up names or get caught behind the play.

And oh yeah, John Davidson is an idiot.

Speaking of Ferraro, my overall impression hasn't been too negative, but I was yelling at him a bit in the 3rd against the Kings.

I understand a lot of colour guys are having this problem, but cripes, the way they talk, you'd think no one ever came back from a 2-goal deficit before this "New NHL".

"The Oilers are still in this with the new rules" -- was that not true the past few seasons? In the Bad Old NHL, playoffs no less, the Flames came back from 4-0 down to tie the Canucks in Game 6 in '04, and that's just one example. It's still basically hockey either way, isn't it? Skate, pass, shoot, etc?

Makes me think that if the NHL had a marketing bone in its body it would have made its slogan "the New NHL" instead of "My NHL" since everyone is using it anyway.

Last night on OLN the colour guy was talking about how scoring was up and powerplay chances were up making "the game more exciting." Good sir, a steady march to the penalty box is not exciting. Players seem a little lost since refs aren't being consistent, even within one game.

Did you see the penalty that Special Ed took last night, about midway thru the 3rd? It was for incidental contact. It's that kind of crap that will create a backlash against the refs/NHL, not hooking and holding.

And back on topic, I'm not sure who the best colour guy is, but I'm pretty sure Greg Millen is the worst. He did the Canucks-Flames series, and most of the time, I figured we were watching different games.

My favorite studio analyst/interview is definitely Duhatschek, who demonstrates that you don't need to be a loud fuckhead to express an opinion.

Hrudey's as good as they come. Millen's more just a dink than an actual stupid guy: he's enraging but occasionally useful.

By the way, any Oiler fans out there worry that Rod Phillips is going to pieces? He's been brutal through the early games this year. Dude, I realize Cory Cross and Chris Pronger are about the same height, but is it that hard to tell them apart?

Uh-oh, sounds like Ed Whalen (R.I.P.) late-career syndrome all over again.

Colby - "but is it that hard to tell them apart?"

That reminds me of just about every game Bob Cole & Harry Neale
have done. Do these guys not think that anyone else is watching? It's not friggin' radio. How can they be so tardy in calling the plays and yet get them wrong so often? And how can they be wrong so often and yet still get the Stanley Cup finals?

Neale and Cole are awful. I actually watched the Habs/Leafs game in French on Saturday, and I don't understand a lick other than "le but!" and "troisième étoile." I believe it was in the Olympics that Cole kept calling Maxim Afinogenov "Mike York" even though they were on opposing teams. It drove me batty.

As far as colour guys go, I usually have a no goalie rule. Millen sucks, Healy sucks, and Bill Ranford on TSN a week ago made me Oedipal. But I like Hrudey alot, and prefer him greatly to Don Cherry. As far as play-by-play, I would prefer to hear Jim Hughson and Chris Cuthbert every night. Everyone else is meh. Oh, except Don Whittman. He is another senile fool they need to put out to pasture.

Has anyone actually seen a game on OLN? I am just wondering what it is like. This may be heresy in Canada, but I used to watch the Cup Finals on ABC so that I could get Thorne and Clement rather than Cole and Neale.

Peter's assertion that the people he watches the games with are much smarter and funnier than the people on the tv screen must be a commonly held belief. My group of friends have also always felt that way. I again suggest that there must be some kind of way to start a pirate sports radio show to call games. A sports station of the people, for the people,by the people.

Hey Andy,

After reading your proposal for the People's Pirated Sports Network, I went home and actually tried to call the Van-Minnie game in my livingroom.

After approximately 3 minutes of game time, it became crystal clear that I would absolutely suck as a play-by-play guy. I know they have prepared a little more with the numbers, etc. but man was it tough to keep up - and to avoid using the same tired phrases (dumps it in, passes, shoots) over and over and over again. I gained a new respect for those guys. Not enough for me to stop hating most of them, mind you.

Get together with a few friends and give it a try with no sound. One of you take the play by play, the other the colour guy.

I'd be surprised as hell if you lasted more than a full period. It is exhausting.

Which is not to say that I don't like your idea - just that it may be harder to find some better talent than you think.

It seems pretty easy when you only have to comment on those plays where you have something insightful to say, rather than having to comment on every single play for the listeners at home.

My theory, on the colour guy in the booth, is that listenability is inversely proportional to experience.

As soon as a new guy has the hang of the technical aspects of the job (e.g. talking while someone is talking in your ear), he's basically at the apex of his career. He has a few insights we haven't heard before, he hasn't fallen in love with the sound of his own voice, we haven't grown tired of his favourite themes yet, and he's still a little nervous about saying something if he's not sure it will make sense.

After that, it's all downhill. Really, why would anyone ever improve? It's not like they're suddenly watching more hockey, and the more "comfortable" they get in the booth, the more they talk out of the wrong end.

The major broadcasters should fire their colour guys every year, as a matter of course. (The most recent obvious example of this was the Week 2 NFL Sunday nighter, where Mike Tirico & Sterling Sharpe did the call, because the usual idiots had gone up to New York for the Saints makeup game. It was a bloody revelation - football commentary can be interesting!)

The only real purpose I have for them is so that I can "watch" games without my full attention and still know - usually from the tone of their voice - when I should look up at the tv to actually watch an interesting play develop.

Take out the sound and you have to pay way too much attention to a game that you are only marginally interested in (e.g., CFL football this summer).

Indeed - which requires just the one man in the booth, who is generally much more tolerable when describing the play than when haw-hawing with his partner.

Hmm. Interesting points. I especially liked Sac's view that the value of the play-by-play guy is to let you know when you should pay attention. The other night, I "watched" almost the entire first period of the Kings-Oilers game from another room. I was doing dishes, and would just put my head out to look when there was a steep climb in what's his name's voice.

I do agree that doing colour rather than doing play-play-play would be much easier, in terms of being able to wing it. But I do have a problem with the argument that they need to be jabbering all the time. In fact, one of my least favorite things about announcers is how much they talk. In games like basketball and hockey, it makes more sense, because the game moves so quickly. But I just can't figure out why they assume that I need to hear their voices all the god damn time. The worst is baseball, when you have a big pitch coming in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7, and they are filling the air with noise. Just let me hear the sound of the actual game, please. I don't sit in the stadium with the radio in my ear, so why do we have to assume that it must happen when I am watching from home. Just shut up and let me enjoy the game.

The colour guy's are bad because they are often ex-players who can only speak in cliches. They assume that because the game they can be interesting. Wrong. The thing about hockey is we have all played it to some degree, and watched about eight trillion times. So don't tell me things I already know, don't speak in cliches. Give me insights on how the game is played at that level, give me juicy backroom stories. Hell, read a book and talk about that for a bit. Just make it interesting. That is why Costas is my favorite guy. Not only does his voice sound like a purring kitten, he knows everything. He is a walking encyclopedia of sports. Some people hate that he is so opinionated, but I love it. Ron Mclean is another encyclopedia, but they relegate him to Coaches Corner and the studio spot, which I think is unfortunate.

The Pirate Radio can work. I know it can.

Once again, I have to express my deep reservations about your love of Costas. He wants to be the show, rather than report on the show.

If you want a purring voice, nobody, and I mean nobody, beats Jim Nance. I'm considering taping his green-talk and selling it as a sleeping aid, and I mean this in the best possible way.

There is nothing better than a Sunday afternoon on the chesterfield, with the sun coming through the window, and Jim Nance calling a golf tournament. One of my top-5 alltime favourite recurring experiences.

His NCAA hoops patter with Billy Packer, while entirely predictable, is just like a coat from the cold.

Pirate radio would be great, how do I sign up.

I agree that play by play (and colour) are acquired skills and I would suck at either job if I tried it right now. But to be a talking head a la Strachan or Simmons? That does not look to hard to me.

There are lots of good ones: Duhatschek is very good I think. I like Peter Mahre's play by play on the radio (though he is a terrible Flames homer, he does a great job of painting a picture of what is happening).

I used to like Mike Toth on play by play. I know, I know, he actually was terrible, but he just seemed so excited about every single thing that happened.

Jim Nance? Are you kidding me?

You know who I miss? Jimmy the Greek.

And no one has even commented on Marv Albert yet. Yes!!

Or "Take It To The Hoop Baby! Slam Jam It Baby!" Dick Vitale.

Jimmy the Greek, Marv "Yes" Albert, Dick the Diaper Dandy Vitale, Don Cherry, etc., are all cartoons of sports announcers. They are fun for the first few years of life, but quickly become utterly unwatchable.

Seriously, have you tried watching those old Spider Man cartoons lately? If not, don't. I've now learned my lesson and am studiously staying away from Degrassi Junior/Senior High in case I discover that Caitlin really wasn't that much of a babe afterall.

Bob Costas is knowledgeable, opinionated (which is good, in my opinion) and has a great delivery. He makes you more interested and aware of not just the current game, but the climate and history of the sport he's calling. I wasn't kidding when I said I'd watch ballet if he was doing play-by-play.

As for Jim Nantz, I can't think of a more average, unimpressive announcer. Except for maybe Greg Gumbel. Did anyone notice when they switched roles (anchor and play-by-play) on CBS Football? I sure didn't. Now while this still makes him 100 times better than anyone else on CBS (sorry Verne Lundquist fans), I don't feel Nantz brings much to the game. He's good at golf, but completely unimpressive at basketball and football. He's not exceptionally knowledgeable, or engaging, meaning that overall he's a completely average announcer. Plus he looks like the pharmacist on 'Desperate Housewives' who killed Bree's husband.

BTW, Sacamano, over on Sports Matters I'll be doing a list of the best and worst sports announcers. It should be up by the end of the weekend.

I'm looking forward to the breakdown.

If you call Costas' overhyping virtually every game (with that oh so serious gazing into the camera) to give it an air of historic import, then I'll give it to you.

I personally find it painful, and borderline offensive, to sit through Costas telling me how meaningful the event is, and how I should feel priviliged just to be witnessing it, with him as my special guide.

He has a permanent case of the "Wimbledon/Masters Syndrome".

Both of these events, while entertaining, do not deserve nearly the gravitas that they seem to believe they deserve.

Chief, don't worry about catching any Degrassi by accident; Caitlin's still a babe.

You always had good taste in women (and you can tell Mrs. Sacamano I said so).

Caitlin was always my favorite. I was choked when Kevin Smith got to hit on her for all those episodes on the new Degrassis. Of course, he did create on of the greatest male characters of all time in Brodie Bruce, so I can't give him too much grief.

Here is my new nickname for certain sports announcer: Jim Nantzzzzzzzzz.

And Matt said the guys at SportsMatter were in love with each other? I am pretty sure he was just flirting with your woman, Sac. That totally deserves a figure-four leglock.

Speaking of radio announcers. If you have to listen on the radio, the shift charts and offensive superstats are updated on the fly.

It is actually pretty interesting to look at these things while listening to help visualize who is on when, and just what the heck they are doing.

It is fun to see, for example, that Lombardi, Kobasew, and Reinprecht didn't see the ice until almost the 6 minute mark.

Or that Modano is 3-0 on faceoffs, and that Iginla is keeping his shotless streak alive.

Phaneuf and Hamrlik look like they are joined at the hip.

>I went home and actually tried to call the Van-Minnie game in my livingroom.

Sac, I have to say this makes me chuckle trying to visualize this. You realize how crazy this would make you seem to family members.

Ya, I know.

The good news is that Mrs. Sac does a killer cariacature of an ex-player colour commentator, so I managed to get her to play along for a little while; thus, ensuring that I wasn't the only fool in the room.

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