SI.com's Media Awards: Best, worst from 2012
Person of the Year
Yep, we know. Plenty of you hate him. You think he's smug and sanctimonious and got his gig because of his famous last name. That rap is old. Buck is an exceptional baseball announcer and he's improved yearly in football. His skills were most visible on Oct. 14 when he called an NFL game (49ers-Giants at Candlestick Park) in the afternoon and an MLB playoff game (Cardinals-Giants at AT&T Park) at night, a television stunt that promoted Fox Sports but also highlighted the broadcaster's unique versatility. Most impressively, Buck's performance came less than a year after a virus he contracted in the laryngeal nerve of his left vocal cord nearly cost him his career.
When asked by SI.com what he was most proud of in 2012, Buck said: "I would say that answering the bell every week gave me a sense of pride and powering through it would have pleased my dad. I had to work so hard vocally to get a sound out that I couldn't really emote or have conversational moments. I missed that and won't take that for granted ever again."
Announcing Team of the Year
A couple of weeks ago in
I also want to note that Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy (ESPN) and Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts (CBS) are both sensational teams that rated just a shade behind the top group.
Best Studio Show
This category is usually a toss-up between ESPN's
Now in his fourth year as a
Best Game Analyst
Viewers demand a number of things from game analysts, including honesty, entertaining presentation and the ability to clearly communicate complex things. Bilas, Collinsworth and Fouts educate viewers in each broadcast.
I asked Fouts' NFL booth mate, Ian Eagle, to offer a few words on what makes the Hall of Fame quarterback a good partner.
"One of the biggest challenges in the broadcast booth is striking the right balance between informing and entertaining the audience," Eagle said. "I'd like to think we do both. Dan is a Hall a Famer who has terrific insight into the game, but he also has a self-deprecating side, a rare combination. Having worked with the great Bill Raftery for so many years, I learned if you're legitimately enjoying yourself while broadcasting a game, there's a greater chance the audience is also enjoying themselves.
"Dan is a partner in every sense of the word. He cares about how we sound, not just about how he sounds. Also, his beard is quite mesmerizing in person. "
Best Sideline Reporter
Retire the category now. A remarkable combination of editorial independence, professionalism and smarts.
Best National Radio Voice
He's been the overnight weekend voice for ESPN Radio for years and runs a better show than many of his more famous and visible colleagues. Valvano is always prepared and reasonable, and he's exceptional on college basketball.
Thanks to candid, behind-the-scenes footage of the most remarkable team ever assembled, this 90-minute documentary took viewers along for a thrilling ride, especially those of the generation who remain eternally fascinated by the Dreamers. The coup was getting Michael Jordan to talk about his experiences. He told the film's producers that he would sit for a 15-minute interview, but he ended up sticking around for 45.
"He opened up to us about how he felt about Isiah Thomas, his relationship with Magic [Johnson] and what he was willing to do to help bring home the gold," said Andy Thompson, the vice president of development for NBA Entertainment and a director on the film. "It was a revelatory experience to hear Michael speak candidly about everything."
Best News Feature on a Sports Program
A remarkably filmed and reported piece on Monika Korra, an SMU cross-country runner from Norway who survived a brutal rape to emerge as a figure of strength and self-reliance. I'd urge you to watch, and kudos to producer Kory Kozak.
Media Feud of the Year
"Anytime, any place you want to post and compare résumés or career highlights I'm more than happy to engage," Wilbon wrote on Facebook. "Until then, I'll form my own opinions, popular or not, without seeking your permission."
Everyone made up eventually, with Wilbon admitting that D.C. is "a pretty good sports town ... but not great."
Call of the Year
Tyler's call of Manchester City's finding wonderland against QPR in added time on the final day of the Premier League ranks at the top for me -- just as it does for my friends at Awful Announcing, which compiled this handy guide of the top 10 calls of 2012.
After Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in double overtime, the cameras panned to comedian Jerry Seinfeld in attendance. Without missing a beat, Eagle, the TV voice of the Nets and a longtime CBS announcer, channeled his inner Seinfeld: "That was real! And that was spectacular!"
Sports Media Tweet of the Year
We asked for your vote this week on a series of sports media categories, and about 13,000 of you responded. NBC's Al Michaels was your runaway winner, with 49 percent of the vote, for best play-by-play announcer among the six candidates we selected. Fox's Joe Buck finished second with 17 percent.
As for the best analyst, Michaels'
The closest category was best studio show, with ESPN's
You can see all the results here.
? A word of advice for
? NBC's tape-delayed coverage of the London Olympics produced the usual negative commentary among print media, but the network never could have predicted that its every misstep would spawn an Occupy movement on Twitter featuring one of the most famous hashtags of 2012: #NBCfail.
? Speaking of the Olympics, it's time to retire Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira from hosting the Olympic ceremonies.
? NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp recklessly tweeted that former New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey was an informant (Sapp used the word "snitch") in the Saints' bounty scandal that resulted in extensive penalties for the team. Shockey repeatedly denied being the whistleblower, and no evidence emerged that he was behind anything.
? In one of the worst tweets of the year, Columbus, Ohio-based sports-talk host Scott Torgerson said, "I wish Desmond Howard would get fired or die so I can watch
? Dave Hodge of TSN in Canada inexplicably referenced the KKK when discussing Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas' decision to bypass the team's Stanley Cup ceremony at the White House. He later said it was a "tongue-in-cheek observation meant to be humorous."
? Nick Cannon took the sycophantic Super Bowl red-carpet gig to a new soul-sucking low on NBC, but the lowest of the low on Super Bowl Sunday was NBC late-night host Jimmy Fallon's dressing up in drag for a skit called "the Real Housewives of Indianapolis." It was arguably the worst pregame segment in NFL history.
? Fox Sports made a splashy move in August by adding longtime ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews. Lacking boldfaced names in college football -- its previous pregame college football show was an unwatchable mess featuring Kevin Frazier and Marcus Allen -- the network gambled that Andrews could draw fans to a revamped program with analysts Eddie George and Joey Harrington. Alas, the show failed to gain traction and lacked chemistry. The jury remains out on whether Andrews has the gravitas to serve as a lead host.
? Many ESPN staffers have complained about the unequal justice meted out by management, and low-on-the-star-power scale ESPN News anchor Max Bretos was severely punished for a line about Jeremy Lin and the Knicks that seemingly had zero racial intent.
? It's absolutely ridiculous for broadcasters not to mention the word "no-hitter" when one is in progress, given that the charter is to tell viewers what is happening.
? Two Maryland journalism students asserted that an ESPN vice president told their class that the reason for a Deadspin reporter's aggressive coverage of a clear-cut case of plagiarism at ESPN was because of a romantic rivalry. The Deadspin reporter then told the world why this was unlikely to be true. At this point, the tease should be sufficient for you to click.
? ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd, expert on the makeup of the NHL media.
? ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd, expert on crime statistics for major cities.
? On the day the Freeh Report was released documenting Penn State's internal investigation of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, ESPN inexplicably opted to use college football analyst and Penn State alum Matt Millen as a solo analyst. The decision launched the kind of vitriol in social media usually reserved for former ESPN college football analyst Craig James. Millen's initial reaction was something out of a Kafka novel, a jumble of head-shaking statements unchallenged by those asking him questions.
? On this same topic, the Big Ten Network aired a replay of an Ohio State-Purdue football game instead of the Freeh Report news conference.
? The Poynter Institute had a muddled tenure as ESPN's ombudsman, including its failure to deliver a promised James column and its lack of immediacy compared to others in the position, such as
? Let us be the first to report on Twitter that Rick Reilly probably wants this one back. Equally amusing was ESPN anchor Stuart Scott's parroting what Reilly demanded without any kind of checking.
? Here's a nice collection of some of the worst sports media tweets of the year.
? ESPN's reporting on betting on youth football games in South Florida prompted an investigation from the Broward Sheriff's Office and subsequent felony charges for those involved. It was great public-service journalism.
? With the circus peanuts being handed out at
? MLB Network's Brian Kenny consistently does excellent work on
? Great impromptu work by ESPN announcer Mark Jones and producer Brian Boyle during the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team exhibition victory over Brazil in July. After calling the first half, Jones quickly changed hats to interview President Barack Obama at halftime, opportunistically getting the noted basketball fan to weigh in on who would win between the 1992 Dream Team and this year's squad. (POTUS correctly said '92.) Jones then called the second half.
? In an example of ESPN at its best, Tom Rinaldi's interview with Jay Paterno after the release of the Freeh Report was direct and firm but respectful.
? A shout-out to behind-the-scenes workers such as NFL Network senior researcher Chad Reuter and ESPN production staffers Jeremy Drummond and Trevor Gavin for the months of pre-draft research they do so that viewers can watch footage of late-round picks.
? Vin Scully, doing a Twitter chat.
? Anything Liz Merrill wrote for ESPN.com.
? ESPN's cross-platform look at the safety of football ("Football at a Crossroads") produced some remarkable work, especially this Kevin Van Valkenburg piece on the death of a semi-pro football player in Indiana.
? NBC produced thrilling coverage of Europe's miracle comeback in the Ryder Cup. The final-day coverage drew 5.5 million viewers, up 88 percent from 2010.
? In one of the year's most amusing interviews, NASCAR's Brad Keselowski drank a huge glass of Miller Lite during a live
? Really liked the MLB Network's adding the Baseball Writers' Association of America awards to its programming, especially the live interviews with the winners after the announcement.
? Using talent from both Turner and CBS was great for NCAA tournament viewers, especially pairings such as Marv Albert and Steve Kerr for the regionals and Kerr, Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg for the Final Four.
? Some professionals who deserve notice for excellent week-in, week-out work: Greg Anthony (CBS, NBA TV), John Buccigross (ESPN), Dan Hicks (NBC), Mike Lombardi (NFL Network), Chris McKendry (ESPN), Chris Mortensen (ESPN), Rachel Nichols (ESPN), Mike Pereira (Fox), Joe Tessitore (ESPN), Ed Werder (ESPN).
They Said It
? "I think [sports betting] should have been legalized and taxed. One of the first things people ask about a football game is: Who's favored? And by how much? I know coaches who will look at the point spread and then in a staff meeting say, 'What do these guys know that we don't?' It is a big part of the success of football in this society. I mean, the National Football League, some of the early founders were bookmakers and horse betters. These were people I really appreciated and liked."
? "I think that's a fair question, and if we promised we were going to write something, we should have. I think the audience asks a fair question, especially given that we did say we were going to. If we made a promise, we should have kept it."
? "What we are mostly trying to do is we want to ride [
? "If the SEC is so great, why are there so many coaching changes?"
? "I've talked to some people down in Washington, D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I've known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?"
? "You're getting a lot of young, cheap people covering hockey and it's not like newspapers send their best people to hockey."
? "I'll take on the Empire, and I like my damn chances."
? "I was very disappointed in myself that I would ever be connected with anything like this because I'm way too smart for this, nor do I think like this in my private time or in life in general. I didn't know how far this was going, but I do know you can lose your job over issues of race and gender. So I got scared. But primarily, I was devastated that my name would ever be associated with a race issue."
? "I love my job. I love the people I work with. And I'm going to try to do things to keep me engaged. But I have four years left on my current deal, and to be honest with you, it's going to be a struggle for me to make it for the whole four years."
? "That's the way this game should end, that's the way the Jets' season should end. Ugly, and a loss!"
Numbers of the Year
Carl Beane (Red Sox public address announcer); Furman Bisher (