AA isn’t just about celebrating the bloopers and the worst of the announcing world, but the best in announcing and sports media.  Ultimately, the announcer’s job is to make the viewing experience of the game more enjoyable.  These announcers are the best in the world of sports and can make any game better to watch.  The AA staff put together 15 nominees for best announcer of the year and over 1500 votes were cast by AA readers.  Here’s the Top 5 Least Awful Announcers of 2010!  Click Read More for the entire list.

T5) Bill Raftery & Mike Emrick, 81 votes, 5.24%

Coming in a tie for 5th place is the eccentric college basketball analyst Bill Raftery and hockey play by play man Mike Emrick.  It’s somewhat appropriate that Raft and Doc tie for 5th in our countdown because they both bring a unique energy to the games in which they broadcast.  Raftery is one of the most recognizable men in sports broadcasting that uses catchphrases that actually work and resonate with viewers.  See a big shot made on the court anywhere around the country and you’ll hear someone shout “ONIONS!”

Mike Emrick had a banner year in 2010, even handling the craziness of the Flyers/Blackhawks finish fairly well and announcing the Olympic Hockey Tournament on NBC.  Emrick has an energy about him that is rare in pbp men in any sports.  His rhythm and enthusiasm is perfect for hockey’s end to end action.  Olympic hockey was one of the highlights of the 2010 sports calendar and Emrick was at his best in the gold medal final.  Here’s his call of Sidney Crosby’s winning goal in the Gold Medal Game and happier times for the USA minutes earlier…

4) Dan Shulman, 92 votes, 5.95%

Rarely can an announcer be a favorite of critics and fans alike.  Dan Shulman is that man.  He works as play by play man for ESPN’s coverage of MLB, NBA, and college basketball games.  His professionalism actually makes a Dick Vitale broadcast watchable.  Shulman has received high praise, being named the best play by play announcer of the last decade by SI and continued his fine form into the 2010s.  Shulman was rewarded for his great work by being promoted to the Sunday Night Baseball team, replacing Jon Miller.  Unlike Joe Buck for example, Shulman always keeps the game as the story instead of himself.  Additionally, he always brings enough facts to enlighten viewers and enough excitement to draw them in.  Shulman probably won’t blow you away with an all-time great call, but is consistently good no matter the sport.  He’ll consistently hit doubles and rarely strike out as a game broadcaster.  He’s tough as well and can even withstand getting ran over by Kyle Singler!  Too bad he couldn’t have at least tweaked Singler’s knee and stopped Duke’s title run this year…

3) Ian Darke, 99 votes, 6.41%

The new kid on the American broadcasting scene is strangely enough a gray haired Englishman.  Ian Darke was one of the many veteran soccer voices that ESPN imported for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  The World Cup coverage this summer was simply one of the best things ESPN has ever done and Darke, along with Martin Tyler, Roberto Martinez, and others was the major reason why.  No longer did ESPN pigeonhole broadcasters like Dave O’Brien into soccer and dumb down the sport, but they let the beautiful game stand on its own with broadcasters who knew what they were doing.  Darke’s excitement and ability to deliver in the big moment helped him stand apart this summer in South Africa.  America fell in love with Darke as the voice of Landon Donovan’s legendary goal against Algeria to advance out of the group stage.


Some might even argue that Darke’s “Go! Go! USA!” may join Al Michaels as one of the greatest ever announcing calls.  ESPN recognized the popularity of the Englishman and hired him full-time as lead soccer announcer for the EPL this season and beyond.  His hiring may be the best move in sports media this year and cements the place of soccer in the American sports landscape.

2) Al Michaels, 153 votes, 9.90%

#2 on our list is the aforementioned Al Michaels, who has been around for so long that he’s usually an afterthought on these lists of best announcers.  In fact, I figured him as nothing more than a throw-in on the original list, but the AA readers have spoken as he finishes as our runner-up.  These days, Al Michaels is usually only seen during the NFL season announcing Sunday Night Football on NBC.  In this Olympic year, Michaels was able to provide some hosting duties and studio coverage for the peacock, which was a welcome addition to the coverage.  (Bob Costas does get old after two straight weeks)  For the last two decades though, Al Michaels has been associated with the NFL (ignoring that forgettable run announcing the NBA of course), as the lead voice of Monday/Sunday Night Football since 1986.  His current partnership with Cris Collinsworth is arguably the best in the NFL.  It’s this role that has made Michaels a mainstay in broadcasting and credit is due for being so good for so long… without amassing the ego or annoyance of Joe Buck.  You can see Michaels and Collinsworth shine here during the crazy finish to the SNF season opener between Dallas and Washington…

1) Gus Johnson, 513 votes, 33.20%

What else can you say about America’s most popular announcer.  Gus Johnson absolutely crushed the competition with over 3 times as many votes as 2nd place.  What other announcer deserves his own Top 10?  Whether it’s college basketball, the NFL, MMA, or any other sport, Gus Johnson is able to bring excitement to the game.  Although he’s been around for well over a decade, Gus’ stardom has blossomed the last few years with multiple memorable announcing performances in the NCAA tournament and other sports as well.  2010 was a great year for Gus Johnson as he was at the center of several great moments.  Gus called one of the most thrilling NFL plays of the year in Jacksonville as a Hail Mary prayer was answered…

But, Gus Johnson is above all else the king of March Madness.  Perhaps his best game as an announcer was the Sweet 16 classic between Xavier and Kansas State featuring my all-time favorite Gus moment at 1:20 of this clip…

Gus Johnson is so popular because you can tell that he enjoys broadcasting games as much as fans enjoy watching them.  He’s not afraid to yell and scream because that’s what sports make us do as fans.  We see one of us in the booth when Gus Johnson is on the mic, but he is professional at the same time.  Sports are supposed to be about fun and excitement and that’s what Gus Johnson brings to the broadcast booth.  CBS must install Gus Johnson as play by play man for the Final Four.  It’s too perfect for it not to happen in the immediate future.  Jim Nantz will get along just fine being the lead NFL announcer and calling The Masters.  To have the most popular announcer in America on your 4th string college basketball and NFL teams is an incredible disappointment for sports fans.  Hopefully CBS makes the right decision soon so fans can enjoy more of the Best Announcer of 2010.

Other Results – 7) Kirk Herbstreit 78, 8) Brent Musberger 77, 9) Jim Nantz 75, 10) Kevin Harlan 66, 11) Verne Lundquist 63, 12) Marv Albert 50, 13) Bobby Knight 46, 14) Mike Breen 40, 15) John McEnroe 26.  Write Ins – Joe Tessitore, Sam Rosen, Jon Gruden & Sean McDonough 1.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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