One of the great benefits of Presidents Day, besides all of those department store sales and a three-day weekend, is the free advertising that the Mount Rushmore National Memorial receives.
Maybe seeing the faces of four deceased presidents carved in stone doesn't get you nostalgic, but if you're like me, the images from that South Dakota mountainside always give me that "I've gotta see that one day" feeling.
It also gets me thinking about the Mount Rushmore of other things, whether it be actors, actresses, singers, even sportswriters.
Whose greatness has withstood the test of time? Whose impact on our culture resonates even long after they're gone? If there were a Hall of Fame for this category, who would be the first inductees?
Since Fine Tuning is a column about sports radio and television, I thought I'd give you my list of Mount Rushmores for various broadcasting categories.
I don't expect you to agree with me on everything, and that's good because the sports world would be a dull place if we all shared the same opinions.
Knowing that I am just two weeks shy of my 53rd birthday, please understand that I may be including or excluding certain people you have in mind simply because you're from a different era.
That said, here we go with the Mount Rushmore of …
Football play-by-play announcers — Ray Scott, Pat Summerall, Curt Gowdy, Keith Jackson.
What made Scott and Summerall special is that they were sparse with their words and let the play speak for themselves. Gowdy had some of the best moments in the early Super Bowl era, and Jackson's special phrasing and passion made him synonymous with the college game for several decades.
Football analysts — Tom Brookshier, Howard Cosell, John Madden, Don Meredith.
Cosell revolutionized sports journalism, getting away from the Xs and Os and focusing instead on drama and story lines. He often created his own drama. Cowboy Meredith was the perfect foil for Cosell. Madden was the NFL for many years and Brookshier, when teamed with Summerall, brought an old-school touch to a fast-changing sport throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.
Studio announcers — Brent Musburger, Chris Berman, Lee Corso, Charles Barkley.
During his time with CBS' "NFL Today," Musburger made the phrase "You're looking live at …" part of our sports lexicon. Berman's over-the-top nicknames are not for all, but his ESPN highlight shows were once must-see TV. Corso has made "College GameDay" an institution and Barkley's outrageous comments have made TNT NBA shows more interesting than the games.
Baseball play-by-play announcers — Vin Scully, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Bob Uecker.
Scully is simply the best all-time. Buck had the ability to perfectly capture some of the game's greatest moments. Caray was the larger-than-life character whose persona resonates to this day, especially in Chicago. And whether he was on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson or giving you that exaggerated "Just a bit outside" as Harry Doyle in the movie "Major League," no one has ever been as funny behind a microphone as Uecker.
Baseball analysts — Tim McCarver, Tony Kubek, Joe Garagiola, Howard Cosell.
McCarver could agitate, but his preparation and love for the game were never in doubt. Kubek was the perfect no-nonsense, fill-in-the-blank guy for Gowdy on NBC's "Game of the Week" for many years. Garagiola's easy-going, story-telling style made even the most boring games enjoyable and when Cosell did baseball — just as with any other sport he worked — he made it compelling TV.
Phillies announcers — Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn, By Saam, Chris Wheeler.
For about 27 seasons between 1971 and Ashburn's untimely passing in 1997, the team of Kalas and Ashburn gave us our soundtrack of summer. Whether we were at the shore or in the Poconos, or whether the Phillies were world champs in 1980, or horrendous in 1972, they made every game enjoyable. Saam was old-school with charm, and while Wheeler may have talked too much, but he cared about the team every bit as much as the fans.