The chemistry between a play-by-play commentator and analyst (or as they were formally known as color-man) is one that can take watching a game from being an everyday run of the mill experience to one that can have a completely altering effect on a viewers day or evening. Sure the actual games has plenty of influence on that but how the two broadcasters work together has a little something to do with that as well.
The play-by-play commentator’s main job is to provide the audience with the who and where that is happening on the field or court while the analyst’s job is to give the how and the why the in-game events are occurring. In my opinion some of the greatest broadcast duos of all-time are Pat Summerall and John Madden for the NFL, Marv Albert and Bill Walton for the NBA and John Miller and Joe Morgan for the MLB. These three duos had the ability to allow a television audience to close their eyes, listen to the games as they were being played, along with hearing their words about the game and be able to visualize everything that took place without missing out on a single play.
Here are the top duos in each of the three sports who are currently working on air:
Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden provide an excellent blend of conservatism and color while working together on ESPN’s coverage of Monday Night Football. No duo that currently covers NFL games can match this duo’s knowledge of the game, professionalism and overall ability to keep viewers glued to the television while still displaying the ability to not miss a single play.
Joe Buck and Tim McCarver have uncanny chemistry between the two and have displayed this for over a decade and a half now. The MLB on FOX’s dynamic duo have been working well together since 1996 and have covered every World Series game as a team since that year. It is ironic that McCarver and Buck work so well together due to the fact that McCarver and Buck’s father Jack Buck did not have the same chemistry together while covering MLB action for CBS during the 1980’s. Either way these two hit a homerun each and every time they step into the booth together.
Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy are the gold standard when it comes to on-air work these days. These two work so well together that not only do they cover the NBA on ESPN but they also provide the broadcasting for the NBA on ESPN’s national television affiliate ABC. Together the two have covered the NBA Finals for the past few years (along with Mark Jackson before his departure to coach the Golden State Warriors prior to the 2011-12 season). Breen is always accurate with his description of everything happening on the court while Van Gundy’s sarcastic remarks and bold yet accurate opinions many times have viewers laughing and agreeing with him at the same time.