Last week, I assessed the performance of the microphone holders from CBS. This week, NBC's announcers are up for their single paragraph of scrutiny, or praise, as the case may be.
Before I proceed, I'd like to respond to what I anticipate will be the most prominent reader question: "If all these announcers/networks are so mediocre, what should they be doing differently to please you, you pompous doofus?" My answer is this: "You'll have to wait for my next column!"
Without further ado, on to the ratings!
Dan Hicks: D
Dan Hicks is Jim Nantz, Jr.
The most interesting thing about Dan Hicks is that he is married to Hannah "I'm the official bobble-head doll of ESPN" Storm. Also he is the "stroke by stroke" announcer for many swimming events… Really? Stroke by stroke?
"So, Dan, what do you do for a living"
"Well, I don't like to boast, but I am the stroke by stroke announcer for NBC's swimming coverage… "
Hicks' brilliant oratory was on display throughout the Presidents Cup this weekend. As David Marrandette of the Phoenix Examiner writes:
He [Hicks] apparently didn't realize that the two teams involved in the competition were the U.S. and the Rest of the World (Internationals), not the Europeans. (Dan, that's the Ryder Cup as even the most casual fan could tell you.) He also referred to the Nobel Prize as the noble prize. (Dan it's not that hard to distinguish between the two words.) Hicks further displayed a height phobia. His constant reference to Tim Clark's height (the "little guy") became annoying and insulting.
Well done, Mr. Hicks.
Johnny Miller: C+
I'm not sure if you're aware, but Johnny Miller once shot a 63 at Oakmont… Really though, I'd like to be up-front about this: I admire Mr. Miller's achievement some 25+ years ago.
Unfortunately, success has gone to his head, literally. It seems his melon grows larger every telecast.
These potshots aside, while I don't like Johnny Miller or particularly enjoy his weekly arrogance and display of learning ("The grain is growing into the players there, right, Rog?"), I think the Johnny Miller type is essential to a good golf telecast.
Miller is critical of players, has a good knowledge of the game, was once an excellent player in his own right and, as a tournament nears the final stages, his announcing actually seems to get better. He could be more uniformly critical, talk more about theory, rather than "right way/wrong way" and stop making references to his own closing ability at Oakmont, but his approach is a start.
Roger Maltbie: D
Proof that walking the golf course on a daily basis will not guarantee a svelte figure, I give you Roger Maltbie…
Eh, I have no idea why this guy is on television.
Apparently this really happened, though.
Gary Koch: D
Koch was a really, really good player at a young age.
Now, he is a really, really bad middle-aged announcer.
His voice is somewhat suited to television, but his brain is… well, not.
Tower commentary is a strange domain. The announcer isn't really following play, and probably spends half of his/her day glancing between the monitor and the meaningless action outside the tower. It's not a great position to be in. The reality is, though, that if Gary Koch were removed from all future NBC telecasts nothing would be lost.
He's filler - the equivalent of a 54-year-old Pizza Hut manager.
Dottie Pepper: B
I hope the "choking freaking dogs" comment doesn't become Pepper's legacy. She is, by default, a better announcer than many of her male contemporaries. I don't mean to introduce the notion of a glass ceiling, but as there are significantly fewer female announcers of men's golfing events, they are pressured to do more to keep their jobs.
The opposite side of this argument is that Pepper, and other women, are plugged in an "affirmative action" sort of way. However, I think Pepper has earned her place in the upper echelon of golf announcing, as opposed to other female announcers, such as Judy Rankin, who was a crazy old bat before she was actually old.
Jimmy Roberts: D
I quote from my as of yet unfulfilled Christmas wish:
As he's won 11 Sports Emmy Awards, I am sure there are many fans of Jimmy Roberts. However, I have yet to meet any personally. His puff pieces of sappy "journalism" unnerve me nearly as much as his nasally voice. I always figured Roberts, who strikes me as an elitist resident of the Hamptons, had been awarded his job through some form of nepotism or gross negligence. I cringe every time the pompously attired Maryland Terrapin appears on screen. It is absolutely baffling to me that the man worked under Howard Cosell at ABC. Santa, I don't want Jimmy Roberts to be fired, just reappointed to covering events which I don't watch, such as bowling or figure skating.
Part Three Next Week
I'll take a look at Golf Channel's announcers, including the heavily scrutinized Kelly Tilghman, next week.
Also, I'll present a better blueprint for golf coverage… one with more information and insight and less overwhelming blandness.
Until then, comment on this article or the first with your assessments of the announcers excoriated therein.