Those of you who dislike Joe Buck really dislike Joe Buck.
"Your person of the year equals mute button," wrote reader Skip Longen of St. Paul, Minn., one of the hundreds who emailed or tweeted comments about the 2012 SI.com Media Awards. "If you're going to put him at the top, at least have the decency to say that Joe Buck is great because the know-nothing viewers enjoy him while fans and people actually watching the game get frustrated. Geeesh, what do you have stock in Fox or something?"
I have no stock in Fox, but I do have stock in the picks I made. But this column isn't about me. It's to showcase a sample of your feedback about the best and worst in sports media this year. Actually, this column is a little about me because it gives me a mulligan to mention my biggest screw-ups: I blew it by not praising NFL Red Zone host Scott Hanson and DirecTV Red Zone host Andrew Siciliano. Hosting live television for nearly seven hours is an exhausting gig and both Hanson and Siciliano do an exceptional job in a fast-paced television environment. They both rank on any best of list for 2012.
In hindsight, I also should have highlighted more online pieces as well as given some nod to podcasting. Obviously, there was a ton of great sports writing and reporting online in 2012 (Kent Babb, Wesley Morris, Don Van Natta, Dan Wetzel, etc.), but it would take forever to cite it all. Here's a great post from Patrick Hruby on his picks for the best American sports writing of 2012. I recommend many of the pieces on there.
? So, now, let's turn it over to you, and we start with a sampling of the animus for Joe Buck:
"Will never read your column again. Previously enjoyed your work. How you can pick Joe Buck is beyond belief. The entire country cringes and turns the volume down whenever he ruins a baseball or football game. I watched the entire World Series on radio delay to listen to Jon Miller and avoid Buck/Tim McCarver. There is no one, repeat no one, who can stand him. His partners are worse. What happened to you?" -- Alex, San Francisco
"Just wanted to say I thought you were spot-on with your call on Joe Buck: Everybody does, in fact, hate him."
--Mike Nichols, Raleigh, N.C.
"I can't believe you could actually pick Joe Buck. I have never heard anyone say that they like listening to this guy. I know a lot of people who don't like him. I have to turn off the football game that he is doing and find another because I find him that annoying. Some days I wonder if he ever watched a football game. He may be good at baseball, but that doesn't make him an all-around good announcer. Terrible choice."
-- Nick Chalaturnyk, Toronto
"Joe Buck is versatile and worked through an injury? Exactly what makes him worthy of an award? In his words, 'I couldn't really emote or have conversational moments.' Aren't these the qualities you would normally look for from an announcer? At best, this feels like a sympathy vote. At worst, it's an example of self-congratulatory backslapping among members of a fraternity."
-- John, Kendall Park, N.J.
For someone who rarely says polarizing things on air, it's amazing the amount of animus Buck faces for his work. The pick stands: The guy had an excellent year.
? Praise for ESPN's Michael Kim, Suzy Kolber and Bob Ley -- and hockey goons; a dart for Skip Bayless:
"Although I completely disagree with your selection of Joe Buck, I do agree with you 100 percent on two individuals: Michael Kim is outstanding at ESPN. The guy gets bounced around more than a piñata, but I'm pretty certain that he could handle any assignment. Then there's Bob Ley. Is ESPN waiting for the next O.J. trial, Sandusky hearing, Mitchell Report, etc. to give this icon more face time? I'd really enjoy reading a feature article on the non-Berman of ESPN royalty."
--Jim Barrick, Ventura, Calif.
"Richard, enjoyed your 2012 media awards. One of the most overlooked media people of all time is Suzy Kolber at ESPN. I always enjoyed her as a sideline reporter, and when she hosts NFL Matchup, it is a real treat. I wish she would get more recognition because she is great for the NFL and sports in general."
--Sean, Clovis, Calif.
"One comment: Please do not compare hockey goons to Skip Bayless -- you're doing a disservice to hockey goons. While they exist purely for their fists, they do their job pursuant to a code: protecting teammates. And unlike Bayless, they reserve their pugilism for other goons. Bayless is nothing more than a professional pot-shot taker who would debate the color of the sky if that is what ESPN wanted from him. With some notable exceptions, goons generally are friendly and thoughtful guys off the ice; they have to be, because they are so easily replaced. They add something. Bayless adds nothing."
-- Jim Goodfellow, Chicago
Thanks for your feedback, Jim, and I apologize to all hockey goons.
? A sampling of Erin Andrews-bashing, mixed with a Martin Tyler cameo:
"Kudos for recognizing the great work Martin Tyler does. He may be the best play-by-play man in any sport. I told my nephew the other night that Doris Burke was a great analyst. He scoffed at me. Oh, the callowness of youth. Well done, sir! I trust you slammed Erin Andrews sham of a sports show on Fox?"
-- Pete, Green Bay, Wis.
"Not a question but a comment on your article. First, well done. Now for my observation, sir. While Erin Andrews is surely a nice person, the best thing for ESPN is when she left for greener pastures. Her voice is not made for a steady diet. Almost felt like sandpaper going up my back. I started to watch her on Fox during college football but had to change the channel. While her partners were fine, every time Ms. Andrews opened her mouth, the irritating scratching ran up my back. To summarize, she is not good! In fact, she stinks, which is not good on my part to be so critical of a fellow human, but it is the truth."
-- Robert Bale, Leland, N.C.
Thanks for the notes, Robert and Pete. As I said in the awards piece, I thought the Andrews, Eddie George, Joey Harrington trio provided little for college football viewers outside of a generic highlight show. As for Andrews, if she wants to make hosting a full-time gig, she needs to take command of that show and deliver substantive takes (and lead discussion) on a sport with a million issues.
? A laurel for ESPN's Beth Mowins:
"This is just my humble opinion, but it seems to me that Beth Mowins deserves more than an honorable mention award. She has a very pleasant voice, is knowledgeable, nonpartisan, and is just an all-around excellent announcer. I'd like to see and hear much more of her. Thanks for letting me voice my opinion."
-- Duey Vande Hoef, Sibley Iowa
Appreciate your thoughts, Duey. Mowins is excellent no matter the subject, from college football to women's basketball. She's been praised in this space before and will be again.
? A shot at MLB Network's Brian Kenny:
"Good story, lots of cool insight. Gotta pick on one thing, though: Brian Kenny is terrible on MLB Network. Three friends and I actually had a discussion about how unwatchable the pompous Kenny is. He defends himself by just trying to be louder and basically saying, 'Because I said so!' He is the bad kind of sabermetrics guy who knows nothing but the numbers."
-- Chad Jones, St. Louis
Thanks for the note, Chad, but I must disagree. I think Kenny knows his stuff.
? No love for Formula One?
"Given that you went far enough down the obscure list in that there were dozens of people I've never heard of, I'd have mentioned Bob Varsha, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett of the Speed Channel. I've watched their Formula One coverage for decades, and they're never less than informative and entertaining, without being bland."
-- Jeff Hamilton, Westbrook, Conn.
"No mention of the best broadcasting team on any platform: Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Will Buxton handling Formula 1 on Speed? Looks like all but Varsha are headed to NBC to cover F1 next year. They are so good, they could do play-by-play for paint drying and make it exciting."
-- Ken MacCollom, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Thanks for the notes, Jeff and Ken. I don't watch much Formula One so I'm admittedly out of the loop. I'll keep an eye on them on NBC Sports Network in 2013.
? Criticism of too many choices:
"I have no issue with your award winners, but what's with all the honorable mentions? You leave no one out. How many people can you acknowledge? It totally waters down who you choose by listing 12 and 15 others. There's only so many of these positions. Who do you not like? Just baffling to me. It's like giving the Best Picture Oscar to a movie but then reading off 20 other movies that finished a close second. What's the big deal then? Thanks for hearing me out."
-- Scott Stolze, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Thanks for chiming in, Scott. I want to reward good work at the end of the year because so often rank-and-file on-air talent and behind-the-scenes people never get press from their own networks. But I think I agree with you here. Looking at the column with a fresh set of eyes this week, I have far too many honorable mentions. I'm going to correct that next year.
? Some love for Bomani Jones:
"I think a big omission was Bomani Jones for what "Viewers Need More Of." He's been killing it on SB Nation and Dan Le Batard's platforms, but he needs a better TV presence than Around the Horn. He's perfectly blended comedy, social and sports commentary.
-- Rob Feagans, San Diego
Thanks, Rob. While I'm not a fan of Around the Horn and the Around the Horn-ization of sports writers sound-biting it up for fame and recognition in airport lounges (I do support writers getting paid for TV work, though), Jones is an intelligent and thoughtful voice and he definitely could have been in the "Viewers Need More Of" category. He makes me think when I read him, and I'd encourage people to read his take on Tim Tebow (in relation to Cam Newton) here.
? Finally, some love for me:
"Richard, I look forward to this column every year. Even when I slightly disagree with your choices, I cannot deny that you are well-informed and reasonable. Thanks for all of your hard work and for yet again producing thought-provoking commentary on an industry where not enough people are willing to have the same critical eye focused on themselves that they so eagerly focus on others."
-- Wynne Kelly, Arlington, Va.
The check is in the mail, Wynne.