The Big Lead released a “Top 30 most Powerful Talents In Sports Media Today” list and I wanted to give my take on it. Overall, I thought they did a pretty good job in recognizing who actually has their finger on the pulse of the 18- 34 male demo, and not just compiling a list of aged baseball writers and giving the number one spot to Mike Francesca.
While I don’t have any major beefs with their list, this is basically just an excuse for me to let y’all know who’s in my starting rotation and who’s in the dog house. So let’s dive in…
30. Matthew Berry
Highest paid fantasy nerd in media. Good for him. I follow him on Twitter, and 100% always base a late round draft pick on an article I read by him half hour before the draft (Christine Michael…great advice, dork).
29. Charissa Thompson
Seems like an overall cool girl. Don’t find her very attractive. I’m team Erin Andrews for life.
28. Clay Travis
Reminds me of Dane Cook. Over the top douche simply for the sake of being an over the top douche. Don’t really pay attention to him much. Plus his name is “Clay Travis.” Two of the most wealthy frat bro names you could imagine.
27. Bomani Jones
DWEEB! Scrawny little dweeb who race-baits every topic and/or person he comes in contact with. Tries to give his voice a little ‘hood twang that he didn’t have when he first started appearing on Around the Horn. Definitely a guy who stakes his relevance in clicks more than clout.
26. THE BARSTOOL TEAM
The biggest slice of my media consumption pie comes from Barstool. Been loyal since 2007 and will never change. Shit, most of the reason I’m writing this blog is to hopefully get their attention and get a job writing for them. As it stands right now, Barstool is life, and I’d like to make it work too. HEY GUYS READ THIS BLOG.
25. Paul Finebaum
I’m not the biggest college football guy so I don’t really have an opinion on Finebaum. I just know he has that old lady Bama fan that calls and has amazing sound bites, so that’s pretty hilarious. Also, heard him on Pardon My Take and I love that he said he’s picked Alabama to win in every game for like, 3 straight years. Love the honest homerism.
24. Mike Francesa
Living legend. Consistently ranks as one of the most influential sports radio voices. He’ll always be relevant until he decides to hang em up. Personally, since I don’t like in New York I don’t really listen to him. But he’s got my “ruspeck” for sure.
23. Jay Glazer
I just love how much of a little tough guy he is. Most beat reporters are squids but Jay owns a gym in West Hollywood and works out with The Rock. It’s one of the strangest work/life combinations I can think of. Dude trains NFL players in MMA in the offseason and cucks nerds like Shefter during the season. Quite the paradox.
22. Jemele Hill and Michael Smith
Meh. I liked both of these people back when they would come on First Take before it became a circus. Michael Smith especially. But they both fell into the ESPN trap of race-baiting hot takes and being an over the top personality rather than a reasonable, intelligent broadcaster. Jemele Hill is like the Taraji P. Henderson of sports media.
21. Jalen Rose
Jalen’s alright. For the most part he tells it how it is. He was kind of a punk borderline star player during his career and that’s somewhat how I still see him. Sometimes he will go over the top ESPN-style, but overall I’d give Jalen a 7.5/10. He’s cool in my book.
20. Dan Patrick
Still has some of the best pipes in broadcasting. Love that low, bassy voice he has. I used to wake up early enough to catch the last 15-20 minutes of his show, which was usually pretty funny. He’s got a solid crew and Dan seems to have cart blanche from ownership to kind of do whatever he wants. Hearing Dan always makes me reminisce about the good ol’ days of Sportscenter, when every anchor was money in their own unique way.
19. Mike Greenberg
Greenieeeee. I don’t really mind him all that much, but that’s partially because I stopped listening/watching Mike & Mike like, 6 years ago. However, I don’t think I could stand listening to him talk solo for an entire show, which I think most people would agree with. We’ll see how that whole thing works out.
18. Michelle Beadle
Man, I was so on board with her when she first started at ESPN. She was the perfect blend of cute and sexy. She’s kind of gone off the rails IMO commenting on social issues, but that’s her prerogative. If she’s got issues she feels strongly about, fine by me. I will say that SportsNation has gone the way of First Take (and pretty much all ESPN programming), so she’s taking the brunt of my displeasure by being the host.
17. Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth
Love Al. Always finds a way to make a Sunday Night Blowout slightly fun by updating everyone on the over/under and the spread. Collinsworth has a pretty good knack for calling plays before they happen, so he has my respect, even though he has one of the more uniquely annoying voices I’ve heard in a while. They called the Pats/Seahawks SuperBowl so they have a special place carved out in my memory.
16. Jay Bilas
I’ve liked Jay for a long time, but sometimes his over the top “I’m the cool guy who fights for players rights” schtick gets a little old. I won’t hold that against him too much though because he had to sit next to Dicky V for every major college basketball game throughout most of his career. That must have been absolutely brutal trying to get a reasonable thought in the mix.
15. Kirk Herbstreit
Tough to not like Kirk. Just seems like a relatively low-key cool guy who does his job well. He almost came off the rails a bit during the whole Christian McCaffrey/Leonard Fournette sitting out their bowl games controversy, but I understood his take. He just couldn’t see it from a future-NFL star perspective because he sucked at OSU.
14. Bill Simmons
Grew up on Bill’s long ass mailbag articles. Loved them. Read his Book of Basketball, which was also amazing. Follow him on Twitter. But he needs to bring it back to his roots of internet writing and leave the TV stuff out of it. This isn’t a hot take by any means, as most sports fans and network executives have commonly agreed that he sucks on air. But I like Simmons. I’m not #TeamSimmons, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the guy.
13. Dan Le Batard
When The Herd left ESPN Radio and was replaced by Le Batard, I tried giving it a shot on my morning commute. I really, really did. But fuck, he’s a squealy, annoying little bitch if I’ve ever heard one. And it always sounds like he’s had a few mimosas before going on air. His speech is a little slurred and he breaks out into laughter far too often. Also, the whole “Papi” schtick with his dad…what executive is going to step in and ax that shit? It’s just not good. Plain and simple. There’s nothing entertaining or funny about having your dad who speaks broken english on air. If he was good at sports broadcasting, he’d have gotten a job in sports broadcasting.
12. Peter King
MMQB is pretty good. I like his approach where he waits until Sunday night after all the games and writes about what he feels is the biggest takeaway from the weekend. He’s also a pretty chill dude. Comes on The Herd once a week and has solid insight. He’s a recurring guest on PMT which means he generally “gets it.” I’m down with PK.
11. Mike Florio
Pretty straight to the point NFL news guy. Not much else. Idk, Florio is cool I guess. Keep doin you man.
10. Charles Barkley
If I were to sit here and write about how I don’t like Charles Barkley, I’d probably be the first person to do so who isn’t just click baiting. Nope, I love Chuck. Loved him as a player, love him on TNT. He is what he is, says what he thinks, and doesn’t apologize for any of it. Still amazed at some of the things he gets away with saying. The “San Antonio has ugly women” comment is one of my all time favorites. Not much else to say about Barkley. If you don’t like him, you probably don’t like fun.
9. Jon Gruden
He realllllllllyyyyy missed Mike Tirico this year. You could just tell there was a lack of chemistry between him and Sean McDonough, which sucks because Sean has a special place in the hearts of all Red Sox fans. This could potentially be a hot take, but I prefer listening to Collinsworth over Gruden. I used to love when he went off the rails, but it’s kind of old to me now. I’d rather just solid football analysis and not gushing over every sub-par QBs arm talent. I seriously don’t think there’s a QB in the league that Gruden doesn’t find to be “special.” I definitely like some organic humor injected into my broadcast, but Gruden is a little over the top for me sometimes.
8. Adam Schefter
Can’t fault the guy’s work. He is THE person for breaking NFL news. If you don’t follow him on Twitter, you’re probably not a fan of the NFL. Also, his complete disregard for being on-air and always having his phone out is pretty hilarious. Breaking stories is far more important to him than good television.
7. Scott Van Pelt
Sometimes I feel bad for SVP. He’s stuck at ESPN holding the network down as one of the only remaining hosts who hasn’t changed his style at all. I feel like he’s the lone survivor of a sunken ship, stuck on an island by himself. But then I remember that the ship didn’t actually sink and he’s on fuckin Saint Barts with a butt ton of money and booze eating king crab for dinner every night.
6. Joe Buck
He’s one of my favorite play by play guys. I don’t understand why so many people hate on him. He does his job and does it well. And the excerpts and interviews I’ve heard from him about his book make me realize he’s actually not as straight-laced as I pictured him. He’s just an average dude who happened to have lucked into a birthright of a broadcast career. He also went to a ton of strip clubs with his dad which I’m not sure if I find that hilarious or disturbing.
5. Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser
PTI is still a solid watch, which is saying something considering how the rest of the programming around them has so drastically dropped off. I’ve always found Tony to be pretty funny, and Wilbon is for sure a smart guy who tames his hot-takes for the most part. I’m pretty neutral on these two. Just curious how much longer PTI has with them as the hosts. They’re both getting kind of old. But the image of them as two guys in their 80s arguing about Lebron James’ son’s legacy vs. his father’s kind of makes me chuckle.
4. Adrian Wojnarowski
Hell. Yeah. If you like the NBA, Wojo is the guy to follow. The Verticle is the best basketball site on the internet. He’s the Schefter of the NBA, but with a little more personality and opinion. There’s not much else I can say about the guy. He’s really good at his job and he doesn’t do anything at all to annoy me. #TeamWojo for sure.
3. Skip Bayless
At this point if you don’t realize that Skip is trolling the world, then I’ve got a beachside property in Nebraska that you should for sure look at. Things I love about Skip include: his undying love for the Pats and Spurs, his consistent hate for Lebron, and the fact that he follows ZERO people on Twitter. That last part might be my favorite. In a world where celebrities always fuck up on Twitter by engaging with trolls, the ultimate troll in sports media doesn’t follow a single soul. He just tweets his own trolling thoughts, and that’s it. It’s a genius move. I wonder if he came up with that strategy or if there was someone behind the scenes with that idea. Either way, Skip’s love for the Pats is enough to make me like him.
2. Colin Cowherd
I listen to The Herd every day on the way to work. It started out as one of those love/hate things, where I’d listen because I couldn’t stand him and had to hear what he said. But I’ve grown to really respect Cowherd. He doesn’t troll (for the most part), and I think he truly believes in what he says. The Herd is a nice blend of sports and business. I will say that he sometimes doesn’t call his guests out on their bullshit. Like whenever Ray Lewis or Cris Carter come on, he never brings up any of the bullshit they were both involved in throughout their careers, even if they’re talking about a current player involved in the same diva/criminal type stuff. But the ONE thing that really ruffles my feathers about Cowherd is his consistent ball gargling of Andrew Luck. He refuses to criticize him for ANYTHING. Like, dude do you watch the games every Sunday? Andrew Luck throws a fuck ton of picks and the Colts blow. I’m glad they finally fired Ryan Grigson. Hopefully they can get some of that oh-so elusive talent on their O-line and defense so we can see if Luck is actually great or if he is just a mediocre QB with a huge upside. Anyways…I got off track there. Yes, I’m a big fan of Colin Cowherd.
1. Stephen A. Smith
I was really hoping he wouldn’t be number 1, but I can see that was a pipe dream. Look, I respect Stephen A. He’s put in a lot of work, and he’s smart as hell. He’s earned his spot as one of the leading voices in sports media. But when 90% of your schtick has become BEING THE LOUDER PERSON instead of presenting a solid argument, I don’t think you should be number 1. Sometimes Stephen A has great points. He had one of the all-time great monologues on racism in America that I’ve ever heard (see below). He can be extremely eloquent with his words when he’s not screaming and yelling. But the good Stephen A only comes out to the public 2-3 times a year. What we usually get is a man who knows that he has the more powerful voice (literally), and he’s very good at not breaking his train of thought when other people try to interrupt him. He knows that “going off” on a topic will give him those social media shares, which in turn will boost his popularity. He just moved to ESPN LA Radio and I happened to catch him interview Kobe Bryant. It was cringeworthy. He puts on this fake swagger personality and basically acts like he’s the prosecutor in a high-profile murder case. If we got a more balanced Stephen A, combining stuff like the video below with the occasional rant, he’d be more tolerable. But for now, I can’t get on board with him. He’s just a character, which is what sports media is turning into.