On Monday, we had Part I of our medals for the 2012 London Games. We now wrap up coverage of the 2012 Olympics today before going into football mode.
Like in Part I, there will be gold, silver and bronze medals distributed to NBC’s commentators. And as in Part I, those undeserving of reaching the podium will be receiving of bowl of the Scottish dish, Haggis.
I will hand out medals to those announcers I had the opportunity to monitor. I couldn’t see all of the sports, although I did try. Here are my medals for play-by-play commentators.
Andrew Catalon, Tennis – Andrew has been quite busy the last few weeks having called Olympic tennis at Wimbledon for the first week of the Games, then flying to South Carolina to call the PGA Championship for CBS’ secondary channel last weekend. He called the epic Roger Federer-Juan Martin Del Potro match that did not want to end. Andrew was on top of the points and allowed his partners to shine.
JP Dellacamera, Soccer – Was based in New York and called both men’s and women’s games off a monitor at NBC’s World Headquarters at 30 Rock. Never showed that he was hampered by not being at the games. JP is a pro and one of the best in calling the beautiful game.
Mike Emrick, Water Polo – Doc was back on water polo, a sport he called in 2004 for NBC. Just as he did in Athens, Doc was great on the sport in London. Tremendous work. Doc can read the phone book and make it sound great.
Terry Gannon, Canoeing Flatwater & Rowing – Terry called both sports very well. A broadcaster who can call multiple sports well, I’d love for Gannon to get one of the glamor sports in Rio.
Mike Gorman, Handball – The TV voice of the Boston Celtics returned to Olympics broadcasting after a 20 year absence having called tennis in Barcelona in 1992. Mike called the games off a monitor in New York, but you would never know judging from the production. He was on top of the action and was even able to anticipate plays. Mike should have called basketball, but we’ll get to that later.
Tom Hammond, Track and Field – Tom shined once again in calling the signature sport of the Games. Was on top of the action, especially when Usain Bolt made his historic gold medal runs. While Bolt made himself into a legend in London, Tom is already a sports broadcasting legend and his calls in athletics solidified his status.
Dan Hicks, Swimming – Dan calls the sport well and sometimes he has to yell over analyst Rowdy Gaines, but he shows genuine enthusiasm during the races. Here’s hoping golf duties in Rio will not prevent him from calling swimming in 2016.
Bob Papa, Boxing – Once again, boxing was a strange venue. Strange calls, strange bouts and in the last weekend, NBC was kicked out of its broadcast position when officials with the Boxing Federation complained the announcers were bothering them. Through it all, Bob Papa was a consummate pro and got the job done, but Let him call another sport in Rio. I’m sure he’s going crazy from the insanity at boxing in the last three Olympiads.
Ted Robinson, Diving/Men’s Tennis Final – Ted has proven time and time again that he can call the major sports or the niche sports well. He and Cynthia Potter work well off each other. The same can be said for Ted and John McEnroe on tennis.
Tim Ryan, Equestrian – Classy announcer. One of the best.
Arlo White, Soccer – Tremendous job throughout in calling both men’s and women’s soccer. The only caller to be on-site at games, he shined brightly. He had to overcome Brandi Chadtain which was not easy to do (more on her later), but he got the job done very well. In his first season with NBC in calling MLS, Arlo got the marquee assignment at the Olympics and handled it very well.
Steve Cangialosi, Soccer – Called a very good game. Experienced soccer and hockey man, did well in calling games off a monitor in New York.
Brett Haber, Tennis – Coming over from Tennis Channel, Brett called a lot of tennis from Wimbledon. Did rather nicely.
Todd Harris, Track Cycling/Mountain Bike/BMX – Todd is ok. Wasn’t thrilled about his “Oh Canada, the drought is over” call on Canada’s first gold medal in Vancouver and wasn’t all that crazy about him being back for London, but he performed well in calling races in the Velodrome. Gave us the feel of the crowd especially as Great Britain was cleaning up the medals in cycling.
Chris Marlowe, Beach Volleyball — There are times when I think Chris is too much in love with his own voice. He has a great set of pipes, but sometimes he goes overboard in his inflections. With an all-American final in the women’s section, Chris toned it down, but there were times when I thought he would go over the top, but good on him for restraining himself in the gold medal match. He medals this year.
Paul Sunderland, Indoor Volleyball – Paul has a soothing voice that doesn’t go up or down on exciting points. In fact, it was so soothing, I hit my head against my laptop several times during his calls. And I’m never bored by volleyball. Despite this fact, I give Paul a silver for his knowledge of the sport and letting analyst, Kevin Barnett make valid points throughout matches.
Randy Moss, Multiple Sports – The shiny topped broadcaster, not the former NFL wide receiver called Race Walking, Synchronized Swimming, Water Polo, Canoeing, so many sports that I could hear him calling my dreams. That’s not a good sign. But he did a decent job on each sport. He gets a medal.
Dave Strader, Basketball – NBC’s number two hockey play-by-play man called some basketball off a monitor in New York. I like him on hockey and he wasn’t bad on basketball.
BOWL OF HAGGIS
Bob Fitzgerald, Basketball – After a good start, it was apparent that calling games everyday was overwhelming for Bob. Besides confusing actor Jesse Eisenberg for the man he played in “The Social Network”, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Fitzgerald was woefully inadequate. After having ESPN’s Mike Breen on basketball dating back to Sydney, NBC went with a corporate Comcast SportsNet play-by-play man in Fitzgerald who calls the Golden State Warriors. NBC should have tapped Mike Gorman who calls the Boston Celtics and was in New York calling handball. Let’s hope NBC makes a correction in 2016.
Al Trautwig, Gymnastics – Al is getting dangerously close to John Tesh disastrous levels. Back in 1996, John Tesh called gymnastics and did a horrible job in overgushing, overemoting and overplaying every dramatic moment. He even did an introduction called “Little Girls Dancing” that was so creepy even for 1996 standards. Well, Al is getting close. Normally a very good announcer and studio host, Al gave us uncomfortable moments by focusing on crying Russian gymnasts so much so that he seemed to revel in their agony. He and Tim Daggett overdramatized key points in the competition where they made it sound life-and-death. I like Al Trautwig and he did a great job calling gymnastics in 2000 and 2004, but now it’s time to bring in a new announcing team for this sport.
That will conclude this segment. The next installment will focus on the analysts, reports and non-rightsholders.