Now that the Olympics in Communist China are over, it’s time for me to hand out my Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to the NBC Hosts and Announcers. In addition, those not deserving of medals will receive an infamous carton of Chinese cigarettes. Here we go. I’ll start with hosts and then move down to announcers and analysts.
Bob Costas, NBC – No doubt. He took the standard set by Jim McKay of ABC Sports and has moved it up even higher. He was solid during the 16 days of action. His interview of President Bush and IOC President Jacques Rogge were among his highlights.
Melissa Stark, MSNBC – It was nice to have Melissa doing sports once again. Very solid.
Alex Flanagan, CNBC and USA – Alex was in New York and sometimes had to fill time when rain delayed events. She did quite well.
Lindsay Czarniak, Oxygen – Hosted the Olympics on Oxygen show. I can see why people in DC like her so much. Deserving of a network shot down the line.
Jim Lampley, NBC – Host of daytime coverage, Jim is a great nuts and bolts host. However, he had to be up during the overnight hours in Beijing. During the second weekend of action, he began to show some wear and tear.
Bill Patrick, MSNBC – Also host of Versus’ NHL coverage, Bill is not bad. He was also on hand for soccer and baseball coverage. He was ok.
Mary Carillo, NBC- Late night host, I liked Mary’s irreverent style. I could have done without her perky features.
Matt Vasgergian, USA – He’s a better baseball announcer than a studio host.
Fred Roggin, CNBC Boxing – I don’t know if it was his location or if he has a lazy eye, but Fred never seemed to look straight at the camera from his position at the Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium. Very distracting.
Carton of Chinese Cigarettes
Tiki Barber and Jenna Wolfe, MSNBC – Co-hosts of the Olympic Update abortion on MSNBC, they were awful. They talked over each other. Tiki made no sense at times. Jenna has been knocked for her behavior on the Weekend Today show and she can knocked for her demeanor on Olympic Update. The show was horrible. Tiki and Jenna were horrible. The show should have been scrapped after two days, but it kept on for ten. We viewers who watched this show cannot get those 20 hours back from our lives.
Tom Hammond, track & field – When he was assigned track & field in 1992 over Charlie Jones, I was not happy, but I was quick to see that Tom was solid at what he does. He can call football and basketball well. He has great knowledge of horse racing. His calls of track & field are among the best. He was on top of Usain Bolt’s world records, and he kept the right tone when Lolo Jones lost her bid for the women’s 100 meter hurdle race and when the 4 x 100 relay teams had their disastrous runs.
Dan Hicks, swimming – Did Dan yell too much? Yes he did, but when you have the assignment to call Michael Phelps’ run at history, you have license to do so. Dan was able to use the computerized lanes to help call who was 1st and 2nd. I’ll give him the gold for his work at the Water Cube.
Mike Breen, basketball – Mike has had a good year, calling the Celtics’ championship for ESPN/ABC, then returning to his old home of NBC to call the gold medals in both women’s and men’s basketball. Solid announcer. Has come a long way from being Bill in White Plains on the Imus show.
Bob Papa, boxing – Brutally honest in what was a disastrous venue. He gave great explanations of the questionable scoring system and then was right on top of punches that weren’t scored or decisions that were just plain baffling. Bob is one of the up and coming announcers on network TV.
Ted Robinson, diving – Another good nuts and bolts announcer. Gives you the facts and is usually on target.
JP Dellacamera, soccer – JP was in New York having to call most of the soccer action. He did the best he could off the monitors at 30 Rock and still made it sound as if he was in Beijing or Shanghai. Best at his sport.
Tim Ryan, rowing and canoeing – Tim is another excellent nuts and bolts announcer. He’s called just about every sport and has done them well. He’s a pro’s pro.
Craig Hummer, cycling, open water swimming, triathlon and canoeing – Too many sports to call. It showed.
Kenny Rice, equestrian – Called the event from New York. Knows horses, but sometimes a bit too verbose.
Bob Fitzgerald, water polo – Solid throughout.
Paul Sunderland, indoor volleyball – Sometimes not emotional enough during matches, he picked it up duing the medal round.
Andrew Catalon, handball – Called the games off a monitor, but I liked what he did. Handball is not very well known in the US and by the end, he was sounding like an expert.
Barry McKay, tennis – Called the matches from New York, he’s not bad, but because he wasn’t in Beijing, he missed several points.
Eric Collins, baseball – Picked up from ESPN, he again had to call the games off a monitor in New York and it wasn’t easy. I’m not high on Eric to begin with, but he did as well as he could.
Bill Clement, table tennis – Did pretty decently, especially in the gold medal singles matches.
Mike Corey, field hockey – From what I could see from DVRing various programs, he did fine.
Carton of Chinese Cigarettes
Al Trautwig – Not quite at the level of John Tesh’s overgushing in 1996, Al made every routine, every score and every moment seem life or death. Usually, Al is very solid, but these were not his best Games.
Chris Marlowe, beach volleyball – I enjoyed watching beach volleyball, but my enjoyment was tempered by Chris’ love of his own voice. Too melodramatic for my tastes.
Ato Boldon, track & field – Honest, forthcoming and gave his opinions especially when Usain Bolt showboated in the last 15 meters of the 100 meter dash. Ato did his homework and was right on top of things. Has grown into a very good analyst.
Rowdy Gaines, swimming – I had been down on Rowdy for yelling too much in past Olympics, but during his eight days of analysis in Communist China, he was very good. There were times when Rowdy’s voice went up a few octaves, but for the most part, he was on top of the action. Very good on replays especially when Michael Phelps outtouched Milorad Cavic in the 100 meter butterfly.
Wolf Wigo, water polo – He made the sport understandable without talking down to the audience. I liked him.
Cynthia Potter, diving – She seemed to know every trend, every way the judges would score dives and used NBC’s Stromotion to perfection when explaining why dives were good or bad. Very good at her sport.
Karch Kiraly, beach volleyball – As bad as Chris Marlowe was in calling the sport, Karch was excellent in not going over the top in rooting for Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Karch is an innovator in the sport and did not come off as arrogant. Very good in explaining replays.
Doug Collins, basketball – The best NBA analyst did not show any signs of jet lag in Beijing. He was on top of the sport throughout the Olympics. Great moment when the US team came to his broadcast position to shake his hand at the end of the gold medal game against Spain. Wonderful moment. And Doug was very good throughout the Games.
Paul Sherwin, cycling – I wish he had been teamed with his regular partner, Phil Liggett, but 7 Network in Australia gobbled him up for its coverage. Paul is a great analyst and also can call play-by-play when necessary.
Teddy Atlas, boxing – Again, one of the best analysts in his sport. He had to deal with the worst judges of all time. Teddy’s Corner was one of the better features of the Olympics as he and Bob Papa went into the ring to explain what would happen in bouts and they would become true. Teddy should be used on HBO, but unfortunately, he’s not.
Bela Karolyi, gymnastics – Sure he was a walking, talking conflict of interest, commenting on action coached by his wife, but he was honest. Many times, he was difficult to understand, but Bela was not afraid to give his opinion and seeing him in the studio rooting for Nastia Liukin during the all-around competition was priceless. I hope NBC uses Bela more often. He’s great.
Melanie Smith-Taylor, equestrian – Was hampered by being in New York. She preferred being on-site in Hong Kong for the competition and said so. But she knows her sport extremely well.
Elfi Schlegel, gymnastics – I would give her the gold had Tim Daggett and Al Trautwig not talked so much. She could barely get “good routine” or “Nice vault” in before being stepped upon.
Lewis Johnson, track & field – Overshadowed by Ato Boldon, there were times I thought his analysis was Ato’s.
Kevin Barnett, indoor volleyball – Like Paul Sunderland, was unemotional at times, making the matches seem dull. But he was good on the replays. Didn’t talk over Paul and played the analyst role well.
Yaz Farooq, rowing – Her voice was soothing. Sometimes so soothing, I fell asleep, but that could have been the sport itself.
Ann Meyers, basketball – Sometimes she was a bit too forceful. Knows her sport, but I prefer Doris Burke.
Joe Magrane, baseball – Maybe it’s because he calls Tampa Bay Rays games and I’m a Red Sox fan that I dislike Joe’s analysis, but I thought he was honest during Olympic baseball. Another analyst hampered by having to call the games off a monitor.
Brandi Chastain, soccer – I thought she did quite well analyzing the women’s matches and giving foresight on her experiences being on the women’s team. However, she could not see trends as she was in New York and the action was in Beijing or Shanghai.
Sean O’Neill, table tennis – Was pretty good.
Tim Daggett, gymnastics – Overgushed, overdramatic, didn’t take moments to let the action breathe. And he didn’t allow Elfi Schlegel to talk.
Jimmy Arias, tennis – Hampered by being in New York. Not the best tennis analyst. Were Patrick McEnroe, John McEnroe or Darren Cahill not available?
Dawn Lewis, handball – Sounded confused at times.
Carton of Chinese Cigarettes
Marcelo Balboa, soccer – He made statements that made you scratch your head. I saw why ESPN dropped him from its soccer coverage.
Carol Lewis, track & field – Yelled too much.
Bob Neuemeier, diving and track & field
Jim Gray, boxing
Andrea Kremer, swimming
Lindsay Soto, tennis, volleyball
Heather Cox, beach volleyball
Andrea Joyce, gymnastics
Craig Sager, basketball
Marty Snider, cycling, triathlon, baseball
Carton of Chinese Cigarettes
Cris Collinsworth – What exactly was he doing in Beijing?
And there you have it. Some announcers and analysts are missing. That’s due to the fact I was not able to watch their respective sports.
I give a gold medal to NBCOlympics.com and the Microsoft Silverlight technology used to stream action. When it worked using the correct bandwidth, the picture was clear, crisp and close to HD quality. When the bandwidth was low, the picture would freeze causing the player to buffer. Best seen at an extremely high speed.
I also give a gold medal to CBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremonies. I got to watch the Opening Ceremonies at work through a site on Justin TV. Ron McLean and Peter Mansbridge of CBC News set the right tone during the ceremonies. Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee went through any site showing Olympic action and forced many channels to shut down. I understand copyright and rights fees, but it would have been nice to watch CBC’s coverage to compare it to NBC every once in a while.
That is all.