Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
2008 in review: Buzz, Mad Dog, Gus, Stray, Johnny Mac
I enjoy compiling mindless lists as much as any burned-out journalist in late December.
Alas, Sunday editor Chicago Norm never has been big on looking-back pieces, so the best I can do for a Sports Media Year in Review is to blog it, then sneak it into my weekly roundup in the Sunday paper.
My three most memorable events:
1. Watching the Giants win Super Bowl XLII the way most of the rest of the world did - on TV - albeit one in a Fox trailer 100 yards outside the stadium, inside of which my assigned seat sat empty. Sigh.
2. Being in the audience for Buzz Bissinger's verbal attack on blogging pioneer Will Leitch on "Costas Now." That was the show on which Al Michaels called the culture of sports-talk-radio on cable TV "gasbags on parade." The other highlight of that night was Michael Strahan colorfully going after Chris Russo, saying, among other things, "The last time you had a uniform on was when your mom took you trick or treating."
3. The HBO show, which also featured Mike Francesa on video, was back when Russo and Francesa were partners. Less than two months later, I reported they likely would break up by Labor Day. Less than two months after that, they did.
Click below for more Year in Review stuff. Just don't tell Norm.Studio Analyst Rookie of the Year: Michael Strahan, Fox.
Weirdest-But-Warmest Moment: John McEnroe hugging Roger Federer after his loss in an epic Wimbledon final.
Most Impressive Local TV Day: SNY's marathon, admirably blunt coverage (and criticism) of the Mets for their handling of the Willie Randolph firing.
Most Uncomfortable-But-Amusing Misunderstanding: Sameer Mishra, 13, the eventual National Spelling Bee champ, thought he heard "numbnut" when he was asked to spell "numnah," leading to much confusion, and later a candid interview with Erin Andrews.
Best Unintentional Imitation of Gus Johnson: Dan Hicks calling the final leg of the men's 4x100 free relay swim in Beijing.
Best Imitation of Gus Johnson by Gus himself: His call of the fourth-down incompletion from Brett Favre to Laveranues Coles last weekend.
Best sports movie: I have not seen "The Wrestler" yet, so perhaps that will save me, but face it: It was a grim year for non-documentary sports flicks, lowlighted by the unfortunate part hockey played in Mike Myers' "Love Guru." Where have you gone, 1980s?
Best Sports Book: How about we consider the 137 books about the Giants of the 1950s through the Giants of the mid-2000s that have come out in the past 1 1/2 years and give them the title as a group entry?
Non-Denial Denial of the Year: Russo offered a long, passionate monologue June 23 in which he appeared to deny my story of the day before but never quite did. He came close, though:
"Neil is in a tough spot now because Neil is trying to come up with something and hes put himself out there and I dont know what hes going to come up with exactly. He can write all the stories he wants, he can call me 30,000 times. And again, I like him. Good man. Good worker. Works hard. But I dont know what hes got exactly. What? That Mike and I are splitting up. Says who? Tell FAN that.
"Contracts. Contracts. Contracts. You abide by contracts. Mines got a long, long way to go, not to mention that quote unquote non-compete clause following it. Youre never going to get rid of me here."