This is the last edition of Traina Thoughts until Monday, so we'd like to give a shoutout to what we're thankful for in the world of sports media.
Obviously, it goes without saying that in this bizarre year, what we should all be thankful for more than anything when it comes to sports is all the people who helped give us sports back after they were shut down because of the pandemic.
From the athletes playing in the games, to the people working in stadiums and arenas, to broadcasters and camera people and everyone in between, there were tons of people who put their health at risk in order for the sports world to return in the second half of 2020.
My list, though, will focus on the lighter side of sports. So, without further ado, here are 10 things I'm most grateful for in 2020 from the world of sports media:
10. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman: Since I'm a Yankees fan, John and Suzyn, who call New York games for WFAN in New York, are the voices of my summer. This summer, I needed familiarity more than anything. Hearing their voices and the unique way they call a game helped distract me from what was going on in the real world.
9. Stephen A. Smith: I don't care about any of Smith's sports takes and I can only handle the performance artist in small doses, but every now and then he hits all the right notes on something wacky, like NBA players not being able to abstain while in the NBA bubble, and it's great TV.
8. Chris "Mad Dog" Russo: Still the single most entertaining sports radio host in the country. I don't agree with about half of what he says, he can't pronounce anyone's name and he may be stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to things like social media and technology, but from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day on SiriusXM, the Doggie will entertain you like no other.
7. Inside the NBA: In the most unusual season they will ever cover, Ernie, Chuck, Kenny and Shaq were as good as ever. The way the hosts can instantly switch gears from ribbing each other to talking about social issues is a skill few have in sports media. They also aren't afraid to go where most in sports media won't go. We could use more of that on sports television.
Just two of many highlights from this season: Barkley calling Shaq "Karen."
And Ernie Johnson giving Barkley a cognitive test.
6. Conrad Thompson/Bruce Prichard/Jim Ross: If you are a wrestling fan who grew up in the '80s and stuck with the WWF/WWE through the attitude era, the podcasts hosted by these men are essential listening. Thompson and Prichard host Something to Wrestle and Thompson teams up with Ross for Grilling JR. I can't recommend these podcasts enough.
5. Scott Van Pelt's "Bad Beats:" I've said this before and I'll say it again, if you are an individual who partakes in sports betting, you absolutely, positively must watch this segment that airs each Monday night on Van Pelt's edition of SportsCenter. Of course, you can always catch it each Tuesday in Traina Thoughts.
4. Good Morning Football: If you read Traina Thoughts, you know I write about this show a lot—and with good reason. No hot takes, no outlandish comments that the host spewing them doesn't believe and four people—Kay Adams, Nate Burleson, Kyle Brandt and Peter Schrager—who are immensely likable. It's the perfect way to get your morning started each weekday beginning at 7 a.m. ET on NFL Network.
3. The Rock's Instagram: You really get it all with The Great One on IG: gluttonous cheat meals, ridiculous workout videos, videos of him singing to his daughter, hilarious throwback photos from his younger days, complete with self-deprecating captions, and much more.
2. Al Michaels, Joe Buck, Jim Nantz: In this day and age when you can pinpoint every single mistake, no matter how small it is, and blast it all over Twitter, we take for granted how good we really have it on Sundays. Each and every week, the biggest NFL game of the day is called by a GREAT play-by-play broadcaster, whether it's Nantz on CBS, Buck on Fox or Michaels on NBC. Their styles are different, but each one works perfectly.
1. The SI Media Podcast listeners: Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful and thankful for the Traina Thoughts readers, as well. If you include the old Hot Clicks days, I've been doing this a long time, and the loyalty many of you have shown me is something I don't take for granted. The fact I have an audience after all this time blows me away on a daily basis.
But listening to the podcast takes a little more effort than reading the column, so that's why I want to single in on SI Media Podcast listeners. I can't thank you enough for subscribing and listening.
I'd also like to plug a brand new episode that dropped Wednesday morning. It features an interview with New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand.
We discussed the situation with Jim Nantz's contract and the payday he's seeking, the weird battle between ESPN and The Dan Le Batard Show, NFL ratings bouncing back, the state of NFL broadcasters and much more.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.