We are finishing 2011 with a literal bang! AA has always been about giving fans a voice in who or what they give a thumbs up or down to for covering sports. For the last week, our readers have voted on our year end Pyrotechnics Awards for the best and worst in sports media. After four days of voting in eight categories, we can now reveal your choices for the winners! Without further adieu, the envelope please…
Wost Play By Play Person Of 2011
5. Dick Stockton – 6.35%
4. Hawk Harrelson – 8.19%
3. Pam Ward – 15.87%
2. Joe Buck – 19.26%
WINNER: Chris Berman – 19.56%
While most associate Berman’s schtick with the studio and NFL Countdown, he still makes play by play appearances for the leader calling various baseball games, the Home Run Derby, and US Open golf coverage. In fact, it was Berman who struggled with the concept of a walkoff win earlier this year. To beat out Joe Buck and Pam Ward is certainly quite the acheivement for a rumblin, bumblin, stumblin part timer.
Best Play By Play Person Of 2011
5. Ian Darke – 8.8%
4. Vin Scully – 10.21%
3. Al Michaels – 10.28%
2. Mike Emrick – 15.01%
WINNER: Gus Johnson – 22.04%
It should come as no surprise that the blogosphere’s favorite announcer takes home another award from AA readers. You voted him as the best announcer of 2010 last year, and this year he takes home the top play by play prize. What better way to commemorate Gus’ last year of being the voice for March Madness and his CBS -> Fox switch. I actually thought on the basis of 2011 alone, Dan Shulman (who finished 6th) deserved the award for the great work he did across a number of platforms. Namely, relating the death of Osama Bin Laden to an audience of millions like a true pro.
Worst Game Analyst Of 2011
5. Jon Gruden – 4.38%
4. Matt Millen – 8.85%
3. Dick Vitale – 10.19%
2. Tim McCarver – 18.95%
WINNER: Craig James – 39.14%
Perhaps it should be no surprise that the man who has been our unofficial Awful Announcing Person Of The Year wins by the largest margin of any award winner. James caps off a historic triple crown that will surely go down in AA lore. First, he won his place on our Mt. Rushmore by winning a 32 person tournament. Then, he won the 2011 Pammies. And now, the worst game analyst of 2011. This included beating out fellow Rushmore residents Dick Vitale and Tim McCarver. Congrats Craig, we’re going to miss you as you begin your US Senate campaign. Not really, just that you gave us so much good material to work with.
Best Game Analyst Of 2011
5. Jay Bilas – 9.72%
4. Bill Raftery – 10.96%
3. Mike Mayock – 13.44%
2. Cris Collinsworth – 14.59%
WINNER: Kirk Herbstreit – 17.45%
Ever since moving to the ABC/ESPN primetime booth alongside Brent Musburger, Herbie has established himself as not just the top college football game analyst, but the best in sports. He has made the transition from the studio and Gameday to the announcing booth without a hiccup. Brent and Herbie have such good chemistry and are one of the more enjoyable tandems to listen to on any network. Herbstreit is sharp with his X’s and O’s, congenial, witty when he needs to be, and perhaps most importantly – he relates what’s happening on the field to viewers with such natural ease. He even heroically survived an on-air earthquake this year with the Screengrab Of The Year!
Worst Studio Personality Of 2011
5. Mark May – 5.67%
4. Stephen A. Smith – 8.11%
3. Lou Holtz – 10.17%
2. Chris Berman – 23.66%
WINNER: Skip Bayless – 31.28%
Should it say something to the folks in Bristol that ESPN personalities swept the top five for worst studio personality? Apparently, there’s way too many studio shows and way too many people on those studio shows that viewers don’t want to see. None more so than the Deacon of Demagoguery, Skippy Bayless. Skip has now been given an open platform on First Take as ESPN goes in the direction of trying to grab ratings and buzz and sacrificing integrity and analysis. Look no further than the most embarrassing media obsession to ever hit ESPN’s airwaves, Skip’s unending love for Tim Tebow, than precisely what is wrong with the direction the media is trending. If you need more convincing as to why Skip has earned this “accolade” read this brilliant article by Deadspin’s Tommy Craggs.
Best Studio Personality Of 2011
5. Kirk Herbstreit – 8.93%
4. Scott Van Pelt – 10.71%
3. Charles Barkley – 13.29%
WINNERS: Dan Patrick & Ernie Johnson – 14.29%
The closest vote of all our polls ended in a tie with Dan Patrick of NBC and Ernie Johnson of TNT sharing the best studio personality award. Johnson doesn’t get near the credit he deserves for mastering his role as studio host on Inside The NBA and playing point guard for Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and now Shaquille O’Neal. Dan Patrick has helped turn Football Night In America from the island of misfit toys to the best pregame show in the NFL. Patrick’s combination with Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison has been refreshing and really hit its stride this season. Both of these guys are as comfortable doing highlights, interviews, or playing to the strengths of their analysts.
Worst Sports Show Of 2011
5. Around the Horn – 6.06%
4. Mike & Mike in the Morning – 8.46%
3. Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable – 11.21%
2. The Herd with Colin Cowherd – 23.64%
WINNER: First Take – 29.09%
It’s another “win” for Skip Bayless and ESPN. Again, a clean sweep in the top five for worst studio show for the leader! In fact, ESPN shows pulled in the top seven spots in the poll with SportsNation and BCS Countdown gaining 4.39%. According to our voters, ESPN2 is the biggest trainwreck on cable television! They have the 6 AM – 2 PM block dominated with bad TV. While picks 5-2 all have their downsides, they are no match for the holy grail of awful television that is First Take. It’s so mind-numbingly egregious to watch Skip Bayless debate Stephen A. Smith and a merry-go-round of other foes for two solid hours. (85 minutes of which are recycled debates around Tim Tebow.) SI’s Richard Deitsch beautifully broke down First Take’s issues earlier this week. The program went from being a well-balanced, informative show with debate, analysis, and interviews to two hours of Skip Bayless arguing with people. It’s like a 2011 version of Groundhog Day, except this footage should only be saved for interrogating terrorists. Sure, First Take’s ratings are up, and maybe that’s all ESPN cares about. But how many of those viewers are watching merely for the gruesome carnage?
Best Sports Show Of 2011
5. Inside the NBA – 6.7%
4. PTI – 8.12%
3. 24/7 – 8.4%
2. 30 for 30 – 22.08%
WINNER: The Dan Patrick Show – 39.17%
What did we learn today? DanNation is an emerging force in the sports world. Although DP may be an “against the grain” choice for some, the show truly is a great watch on television (airing on DirecTV’s Audience Network and local Fox/CSN affiliates) even though it’s predominantly a radio show. It is simply the perfect alternative to the exhausting Bristol morning shows. With Patrick’s show there is no hidden corporate agendas, no yelling to get a point across, and best of all – no staged debates that insult the intelligence of viewers. In addition to Patrick’s commentary and interviews, each one of the “Danettes” provide their fair share of insight and laughs as well. Each show in the top five would have been a worthy choice. 30 for 30 and 24/7 are shows of the highest quality. PTI and Inside are stalwarts on these lists. But Patrick’s show stands out for one more reason – it’s actually fun to watch. And sports is supposed to be fun after all, isn’t it?