BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst TV Sports Personality

Today we’re looking at a group of people who in some cases might be something of a dying breed. These are TV sports personalities, and among them are the people who do sports reports on the local newscasts. They’ve seen their on-air time dwindle through the years, even as the popularity of sports has increased. In many cases they compensate for their reduced newscast time with gigs hosting nightly or weekly sports shows, appearing on team pregame and postgame shows or making appearances on sports radio. It’s very rare to see someone who only does TV sports on the nightly news.

Some of our candidates have been in the market for a long time, others are relative newcomers. Here’s how you voted on them:

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It was a tight voting, with no clear winner. Mike Lynch of channel 5 WCVB came out on top with 232 votes for 18% of the total. Lynch is one of the veterans of the Boston sports scene, and has managed not to get over-exposed during that time. In addition to the sportscasts on WCVB, he also hosts the Patriots All Access program on the station, and during the preseason and occasions that the Patriots play on ABC or ESPN, Lynch has hosted a pregame show on the station as well. He does a solid job, not making himself the focus or star, and going about things in a workmanlike manner, not usually resorting to making outrageous statements just for attention.

Hazel Mae, host of Sports Desk on NESN came in second in the balloting with 14% of the vote, while veteran Bob Lobel and Tom Caron each received 12% of the total. Lobel has been a fixture on the Boston sports scene for over 25 years, and while he may have lost some of his fastball, he’s in many ways still the face of TV sports in Boston.

Reader Comments: I went with Giardi on top here. Mike Lynch is solid but I almost never watch that station….The "Best" vote was easy—no one. There's not one person on that list who I would say is outstanding and only a few (Giardi, Lynch) whom I would characterize as acceptable.

Now let’s look at the vote for worst:

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Once again the voting was very tight, but Butch Stearns emerged as the winner of the worst TV sports personality, taking home 213 votes for 16% of the total. Getting viewers to the station is part of his job, but the way he attempts to do it is something many people take issue with. He’ll tease his sports segment with some statement that is designed to make the viewer think that something huge is breaking. If you watch him for any length of time, you become immune to the tactic. Stearns also is a frequent guest on WEEI (He says it paid for the addition to this house.) and enjoys throwing things out there trying to generate some sort of buzz. Most famous of course was his confrontation with Curt Schilling on WEEI, which he then milked on his sportscast. Another Stearns highlight was when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, and Butch grabbed the trophy on-camera exclaiming “Who’s better than me with the trophy?”

CBS4’s duo of Bob Lobel and Steve Burton came in second and third. Lobel had a rough 2005 with rumors of his personal life making headlines and then suing a cartoonist for alleging that he was drunk on the air. Burton is the king of the one-word questioning technique. He proves clueless on many matters and while he might be a nice guy personally, he offers little in the way of insight or analysis of sports.

Reader Comments: Stearns has my lifetime support for worst here. Steve Burton could visibly pee his pants every time he is on TV and I'm still backing Butch. The lowest of the low….Chris Collins apparently flying under the radar here…. After lengthy deliberation and after a tight battle among the Three Horseman of the Apocryphal (Stupidity, Pomposity and Cluelessness-- Burton, Stearns, and Tanguay) I had to go with the one guy who best epitomizes all three. Who looks better with a Brucie than you, Butch?