Media Power Rankings for May
1. Kevin Bovee, freelance cameraman: Most jobs don't include getting in the face of Rasheed Wallace; Bovee does it for a living. The cameraman nabbed the most dramatic shot of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals -- Wallace steaming on the bench in the fourth quarter after his fifth foul in Game 6.
As Bovee moved in for a tighter shot, Wallace ordered the camera out of his face, using some colorful NSFW language. He also tossed a towel at Bovee. ("I think our cameraman should give him a 'T'," said ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy.)
You don't often read about cameramen in media columns, but at arenas and stadiums across the country, the men and women who perform the job bring memorable shots to the public. Bovee, 36, has worked as a freelance cameraman for a decade and lives with his wife, Alissa, and daughter, Emma, 2, in Allen Park, a suburb outside of Detroit. He shoots the Pistons, Tigers, and Red Wings (he's working Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals for NBC) among other assignments.
"I've had some players be rude to me in the huddle before, but I've never had one throw anything at me," said Bovee, laughing. "That was memorable. He threw the towel at the camera and it covered the lens. It was actually a pretty nice shot. He did me a favor."
2. Andy Gray, Scottish soccer announcer: The list of inept American soccer announcers is long and ear splitting. In a welcome move for anyone who loves the beautiful game, ESPN brought in the noted English Premier League broadcaster to be a game and studio analyst for its coverage of the UEFA Euro Football Championship 2008. Perhaps we'll finally be free from the arcane and jingoistic notion that an American-born announcer must call soccer on an American network.
3. John Buccigross, Bristol's Tolstoy: The ESPN anchor channeled his inner-Bill Simmons with this 3,378-word first person-palooza that offered meatball sandwich advice, a sarcastic smackdown of Jim Nantz and some unique phraseology ("I'm a sentimental fart.") No way Steve Levy could pull this off.
4. Mike Emrick, NBC and Neil Stevens, Canadian Press: It's great to see media professionals get their just due without the work of surrogates pounding the public lectern about their accomplishments. Emrick will be honored at the Hockey Hall of Fame with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for contributions to the sport as a broadcaster while Stevens will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, which recognizes print reporters who have brought honor to journalism and the game of hockey.
5. Rick Reilly, ESPN: Gentleman, start your press releases. One can only imagine what the e-mail-happy folks in ESPN's communication department have in store over the next couple of months now that my former colleague is officially on the payroll. The answers in advance: Yes, I like the guy. No, I won't send an e-mail to my managing editor suggesting he should be on the cover. Yes, I think the cafeteria is big enough for both Reilly and Simmons.
6. Murray Chass, ex-New York Times baseball writer: He covered the Steinbrenner Yankees during an era in New York that featured some heavy-hitting competition (Moss Klein, Bill Madden and Mike McAlary), and he's correctly credited with bringing the business of baseball into the pages of newspapers. I know the anti-Chass brigade is large and loud, and includes new-school insiders and baseball-centric sites I've come to admire. But to write and report at the level Chass did for as many years as he did is world-class impressive.
I particularly admired the zeal in which he argued for Marvin Miller to be in the Hall of Fame ("The National Baseball Hall of Fame has become a national joke," wrote Chass in 2006. "Its latest electoral contrivance elected three former executives to the Hall yesterday, none named Marvin Miller. Making the committee's decision even worse, one of the three is named Bowie Kuhn."). His tenure with the Times officially came to an end last month. Godspeed.
7. Jim Nantz, CBS Sports: I'm not one to genuflect at the sight of Amen Corner, and though Nantz's treatment of golf tends toward religiosity, I respect anyone who writes honestly on a family's battle with Alzheimer's disease. Nantz's book (Always By My Side: A Father's Grace and a Sports Journey Unlike Any Other) sits on the Top 10 of the New York Times best-seller list and he's on a book tour that's longer than a 964-yard, par-7. The Houston Chronicle's David Barron offers some nice stuff here on the author visiting with his father.
8. Dwayne Bray, Drew Gallagher, Justine Gubar, Tim Hays, Craig Lazarus, Evan Kanew, Mike Knisley, and Kelly Naqi, ESPN: Once again, the group behind the O.J. Mayo story. Take a bow, folks.
9. Bill Conlin, Philadelphia Daily News: The white-shoe sports writing firm of Howard Bryant, Mike Lupica, and Bob Ryan -- hopefully, Mr. Lupica will forgive me for putting Mr. Bryant's name first -- all picked the Celtics over the Lakers in the NBA Finals on Sunday's edition of The Sports Reporters. I mention this merely as a lead-in for this wicked bit of prose from former TSR stud Conlin, who we miss greatly on this show.
"When the suits who produce ESPN's The Sports Reporters decided to end my 13-year audition, my former chair frequently was occupied by the physically enormous and enormously talented [Jason] Whitlock," Conlin wrote in May. "It was Whitlock who deflected Mike Lupica's waspish ripostes with the precision of an exterminator spraying industrial-strength Flit."
10. ESPN Classic, still standing: The old warhorse has been kicked around lately, the subject of rumors that it would become an all-soccer network named ESPN3. For the moment, the home of American Gladiators, Cheap Seats and the 1999 U.S. Poker Classic is safe. Says ESPN spokesperson Mike Soltys: "Classic remains an important part of ESPN's portfolio and we have no intention of converting it into a soccer-only network."