I was at home watching the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals on VERSUS (yes, the NHL TV deal landed games three and four of the finals on VERSUS) and once again found myself thoroughly enjoying the play-by-play work of Doc Emrick. I've never been a huge hockey fan but I enjoy following it on occasion and am easily sucked in by the Stanley Cup Finals. When I've followed the game I've been a Bruins fan (my dad's from Boston, thus the connection) so I've paid a little bit closer attention to this year's finals.
As I've been watching the playoffs, I am continually reminded how awesome Doc Emrick is at what he does. If you don't know about Emrick here's a documentary on YouTube, an article at SI, and this article at Deadspin with some fun video.
I bring him up because it got me thinking about who the best play-by-play guys are in sports. It's a hard discussion to have because it's so subjective. The two big factors that affect any sort of conclusions are the differences between television and radio, and then the fact that I have not heard many of the big names out there beyond a clip or two. For example, I don't think I've ever heard Vin Scully call an entire game, so even though Dodger fans swear by him, he isn't on my list because of not experiencing his calls.
So I think really it comes down to who you think does the best job given the context of their work. As I've said, Emrick is fantastic in the way he calls a game that can have instantaneous excitement, and then lulls mixed in. Another guy I still enjoy in baseball is Bob Costas. He comes across as smarmy and a bit of a snob, but there's something about when he calls a game that is simply enjoyable to experience.
Gus Johnson remains on the top of my list primarily for his work during March Madness. He's solid with football as well and I've never heard him call a Knicks game so I can't comment on that. But it will be a shame that he's moving on to Fox and won't be calling March Madness. I'll live. After all, March Madness brings some quality announcers together. I really enjoy Verne Lundquist although I'm not quite sure why that is. Part of it is probably his work with Bill Raftery, but something about his voice is great for play-by-play. He gets excited at the right moments, but when things are fairly calm, there's something soothing listening to him.
I know I've just left off a whole boatload of names, but really I just wanted to get the discussion going. What play-by-play guys do you particularly enjoy over others?