Episode 346 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina features an interview with veteran play-by-play man Sean McDonough. The versatile ESPN broadcaster talks about how and why he lobbied to get the job as the network's lead NHL play-by-play announcer. McDonough also reveals why he thought his two-year stint working with Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football didn't work and how his style didn't mesh with Gruden's. Other topics covered on the podcast include McDonough's famous call of Francisco Cabrera's game-winning hit in Game 7 of the 1993 NLCS and whether he feels like he should be mentioned among the elite play-by-play people across sports—and his famous voice cracks. McDonough closes his interview by sharing a must-hear story about his longtime college basketball partner, Bill Raftery.
Following the interview with McDonough is the weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment. Topics include the Rachel Nichols–Maria Taylor controversy, MLB's All-Star Game uniforms and a disgraceful move by MLB.
Jimmy Traina: Tell me, what appealed to you about getting that gig [ESPN's lead NHL play-by-play announcer]?
Sean McDonough: Well, I love hockey. Did a lot of it back in the day. Obviously, I haven't done it in a while because we haven't had it for 16 years, and, as I've said in a couple of interviews since they made the announcement, you can only do obviously what you have. And one of the things I love about ESPN is that we have a lot, and I enjoy the variety as much as anything else. So whenever people ask me, 'What's your favorite sport or favorite sport to call?' I never really have an answer because I enjoy doing all of them.
If I had to choose, you know, based on what I've been doing lately, I would say college football. But I love hockey. I grew up in Boston in the '60s and the heyday of Bobby Orr; every kid on the block wanted to be Bobby Orr. And most of us had the poster of him flying through the air after he scored the Stanley Cup–winning goal and got tripped in Game 4, against the St. Louis Blues. And it was really my first job out of college in the mid-'80s, and when I left Syracuse, I went to Nesson when they were just starting out in New England and my first gig there was calling college hockey.
Hockey East was a conference that had just been formed. So I got to do a lot of games there. There weren't a lot of people watching at the time; this was only in about 3,000 homes. You wondered if anybody was watching sometimes. And obviously, that's changed a lot. But I was involved with the Boston Bruins, mostly in the pregame, postgame, in-between periods when the legendary Fred Cusick was doing the play-by-play. I got to fill in for him a couple of times, which was a thrill. Then did a lot of hockey for ESPN when we had it. The Frozen Four and the NHL and did the Olympic hockey in '98 at CBS and loved that. So it's always been a passion of mine.