In past attempts at this, we’ve separated the play-by-play men from the analysts to create a Top 10 and Bottom 5 list. For the first time, we will put the two together in one stealth maneuver.
The caveat, of course, is understanding Vin Scully’s longtime ability (and desire) to work alone on Dodger games for TV (Prime Ticket and Channel 9) and radio (the simulcast for three innings on 570-AM KLAC), which will automatically eliminate him from this exercise.
One could easily make a case that Scully, a capella, has enough juice to top this list. (Consider pairing up with Mike Piazza, and we’ll squeeze ‘em in).
But for now, we’ll stick to this two-for-one premise and see how it falls together:
1. BOB MILLER and JIM FOX, Kings TV Fox Sports West:
The fact L.A. missed hearing this team of 23 seasons call Kings’ Stanley Cup playoff games from the middle of the second round all through their historic Game 6 final is testament to the quality of their conversation and teachable moments. They’ve had an unprecedented run in L.A. sports. “Isn’t this fun?” said Miller, in his 40th season with the team, during the Kings’ game Tuesday night against St. Louis – and it sound that way for the pair who’ve grown to be inseparable as the Hall of Fame play-by-play man with the former player. Just watch ‘em open up a box of hockey cards.
2. JOHN IRELAND and MYCHAL THOMPSON, Lakers radio 710-AM:
The retired Laker Thompson has had three partners in eight seasons with the team, but none have been able to come off as entertaining as this tandem over the last two seasons. Considering all the time he’s spent as a sports-talk show host and TV anchor/reporter, Ireland’s play-calling talents have appeared to come seamless. He defers to Thompson as the most appropriate moments, and also sets up his partner in ways he probably doesn’t realize. “The Lakers are 11 of 22 at the (free throw) line,” Ireland said during a recent game. “That’s almost 50 percent,” said Thompson.
3. CHARLEY STEINER and RICK MONDAY, Dodgers radio 570-AM:
Steiner, starting his ninth season with the team, and Monday, beginning year No. 19, have only been in this radio rodeo together for a few years, but quickly developed a rapport that’s a genuine like for each other’s stories, historical references and interpretation of what they’re watching. Once it was established that Monday’s focus was on sticking it as the analyst and Steiner could be exclusive to radio, we’ve enjoyed the ride.
4. NICK NICKSON and DARYL EVANS, Kings radio 1150-AM:
We know what they did last summer, with Nickson finally getting some national attention for his calls used on NHL telecasts, climaxed by his proclamation that the Kings had won the Cup. Of all the Nickson partners over the years, Evans’ steady improvement has led to him rightly being added to the TV pre- and post-game, and between periods.
5. BILL MACDONALD and STU LANTZ, Lakers TV TWC SportsNet:
Lantz’s connection to Chick Hearn has lasted him through two previous play-by-play men until it became Macdonald’s turn during the team’s final season at Fox Sports West and moving over to the new outlet. Lantz, in his 25th year with the team, could have been subbed out for someone more current to younger viewers. But his observations remain relevant, and Macdonald defers instead of dominates the back-and-forth, providing the right amount of energy to make this work.
6. RALPH LAWLER and MICHAEL SMITH, Clippers TV Prime Ticket:
It’s tough to find a more opposite duo, some find endearing. How Lawler sounds like he tolerates inane comments by Smith shows a remarkable patience. But then, here’s a guy who has seen mostly losing seasons since joining the franchise in 1978 and once worked with Bill Walton.
7. CHRIS ROBERTS and MATT STEVENS, UCLA football radio 570-AM:
Has it really been a dozen seasons together – along with sideline reporter Wayne Cook?
8. CHRIS ROBERTS and DON MacLEAN/TRACY MURRAY, UCLA basketball radio 570-AM:
MacLean’s increased TV duties may soon leave this job fulltime for Murray.
9. VICTOR ROJAS and MARK GUBICZA, Angels TV Prime Ticket:
As long as there’s not a no-hitter in progress, we should be good.
10. JUSTIN ALDERSON and TONY MOSKAL, high school football Prime Ticket:
When Chris McGee made a quick exit to TWC SportsNet, Alderson stepped right up into a more-than-solid role with Moskal providing the well-researched color. It’s a team that should get a shot at some college games if there was a need for it.
IN OTHER WORDS:
== PETE ARBOGAST and PAUL McDONALD, USC football radio 710-AM
== JOHN SHRADER and COBI JONES, Galaxy TV TWC SportsNet
== CHRIS FISHER and BRANDON GRANVILLE, USC basketball, 710-AM
== JOHN AHLERS and BRIAN HEYWARD, Ducks TV Prime Ticket
== PAUL SUNDERLAND and MICHAEL CAGE, college basketball, Prime Ticket:
== TERRY SMITH and MARK LANGSTON, Angels radio 830-AM
== ERIC COLLINS and STEVE LYONS, Dodgers TV Channel 9