Debating who’s the better announcer: Gus Johnson or Doc Emrick

By March 6, 2013June 18th, 2018No Comments

doc-emrick-gus-johnsonEarlier this week on Twitter we threw out the question of who is the better announcer: Gus Johnson or Doc Emrick. Both guys are baller and got votes so we wanted to take things a step further and debate this like we did with “Do Cleveland Fans want Lebron James back with the Cavaliers in 2014 when he’s a free agent“. The format is pretty simple. Each writer takes a side and gives us their point of view on the topic, neither knows what the other guy wrote. Simple as that.

“Doc” Mike Emrick by Tom Hamm

Everyone knows a great announcer makes a game great, much like your uncle who made family gatherings more enjoyable by sneaking you booze. After watching and listening to a hockey game called by “Doc” Mike Emrick, you realize that he is simply the best announcer in sports for a multitude of reasons. He makes announcers in all sports sound as dull and interesting as A.C. Slater on KKTY Bayside radio.

First let’s hit the accolades. He has been at his craft since Gus Johnson was still buying little cartons of milk at lunch in first grade some 40 years ago. Doc has done broadcasting work for over twelve different networks, showing to be more popular than the Cleveland Indians free agent signing of Jack Parkman. Emrick has won an Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality-play by play, an award from the Hockey Hall of Fame for contributions to hockey broadcasting, and was the first media member inducted to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.  Simply put Yeomen’s work.

Doc brings a game to life, allowing you to close your eyes and imagine yourself at center ice, calling every crisp pass off the tape of a stick, a bone jarring hit, mesmerizing save and clutch game winning overtime goal. His knowledge of the game allows you to not only follow the play-by-play but also learn more about the game, especially important as not everyone watching is as big a sports nut as us at Bacon Sports. Emrick is an ambassador to the game as he gets everyone involved in the action like Jenna Jameson has in the adult film industry.

The charming golden pipes of Emrick set him apart from the rest. He gets excited as the level of play rises but does not have a hernia like every three pointer or dunk Gus calls. His smooth annunciation of the impossible to pronounce foreign hockey names like Alexi Ponikarovsky and Tuukka Rask in real time sounds as smooth as the other side of Stuart Scott’s pillow. Gus Johnson and Doc get excited on made shots in the clutch, but you will also hear Emrick’s voice rise to illuminate the drama of a huge save or a near miss “hittttt the post!”. Here’s a perfect example of Doc’s brilliance.

Every great announcer has unique and identifiable sounds and Doc has some unique recognizable phrases when the action rises. A driiiiive when Zdeno Chara rips a slapper from the point. Ohhh what a save and turned away! when Martin Brodeur stretches for an impossible save. He hitttt the post when Henrik Zetterberg’s late backhand hits the iron. He scorrrrrrres when Patrick Kane lights the lamp after a scramble late in the game.

Doc Emrick has a few things going for him that Gus Johnson does not. Emrick is at the peak of his announcing game right now and only getting better with age. Johnson is falling and becoming quickly irrelevant with his move to soccer as he is not heard as often. Most importantly Doc is given the keys to announce his sport’s pinnacles in the NHL Finals and the Olympic Finals. The highlight for Gus has been an Elite Eight call. Plus Emrick has Pierre McGuire “Inside the Glass”, nail in the coffin.

I love Gus Johnson and still watch YouTube clips of him over and over again. But Doc Mike Emrick has a much greater body of work, gets excited while maintaining professionalism and control, has golden pipes that raise the suspense of the game and truly brings the game of hockey alive and to another level. I am taking Doc Emrick over Gus Johnson.

Gus Johnson by Rob Cressy

I dig Doc Emrick and am not going to talk bad about him to make my point for Gus Johnson. This is all about Gus.

So why is Gus Johnson so fantastic? Because he’s the opposite of Joe Buck and Joe Buck is as exciting as an episode of Gold Rush Alaska. Gus Johnson announces a game like he’s got money on the line for both teams (like Brent Musburger just might) so when anything of substance happens he is going bonkers like Oprah just gave him a new car. Remember the last time that you got a backdoor cover because some walk-on freshman ran back a kickoff with his team down 24 points and only 17 seconds left in the game? That feeling you had is how Gus is when he’s calling a game…all the time…and that never stops being awesome.

When it comes to announcing college basketball, to take a page from Bret “the Hitman” Hart, Gus Johnson is “the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be”. Here’s a little taste of some of the best calls Gus has made over the years at the tourney:

One huge advantage that Gus Johnson has is his catch phrases. They are memorable like Kate Upton’s boobs, quotable like Anchorman, and they help set him apart from everyone else. “Rise and Fire….count it!”, “Here comes the pain”, and “Cold Blooded” are a few that come to mind.

Gus leaving CBS for Fox Sports has left a Bartolo Colon sized void in all of our hearts come March Madness. Thankfully Fox Sports is treating Gus like he’s Jose Oquendo and using him all over the network in different sports. He’s no one trick pony.

Gus Johnson has the ability to turn a Kansas vs Iowa St football game that you would otherwise care less about into a must watch blockbuster that would make Michael Bay proud. I can’t think of a single other announcer where you’d watch the game just because they are calling it. God forbid if Gus is actually calling a football game that’s slated to be a shoot-out. If Oregon or Texas A&M are involved then someone better bring a few extra pairs of pants for Gus because it’s gonna get messy.

What makes Gus Johnson the best is that you can feel his passion and love for sports and that comes across in everything that he does. It’s like he’s one of your fraternity brothers who used to bong Natty’s and hit on 6’s with you made it big. He’s one of us.

I’ll leave you with this. A vote for Doc Emrick is a vote for Joe Buck. Do you really want to vote for Joe Buck? I certainly don’t. My vote goes to Gus Johnson…COUNT IT!

We want to hear from you. Who do you think is the better announcer and why? Vote and put your thoughts in the Birdfeud widget below.

Rob Cressy

Rob Cressy

Sports loving free throw specialist and yinzer living in Chicago who is awesome most of the time, has run with the bulls in Spain, and is a graduate of Second City's Improv program.