About 20 minutes into the World Cup championship match, I looked over to our 17-year-old son and said, "This is Ian Darke, right?"
I was referencing the ESPN play-by-play announcer.
"Yeah," he said.
"He's great," I said.
"Yeah," he said. (Aren't conversations with 17-year-old boys great?!)
He looked at me for a few seconds, then said: "Are you serious? I can't tell if you're being serious or not."
I do tend toward sarcasm. But this time, I assured him, I was being serious. I do think Ian Darke is a fantastic announcer.
Soccer is a sport that lulls. Ian Darke deftly fills in the gaps, making some matches far more interesting than they deserve to be. He also is brutally, comically honest.
And, I might have a man crush on his British accent.
So, where does Ian Darke rank among my favorite sports play-by-play announcers on television? Well, this is The List, after all:
1. Mike Emrick, NHL on NBC. No one describes passes, shots and hits in hockey the way "Doc" does.
2. Pat Foley, Chicago Blackhawks on Comcast Chicago. "He shoots, he scores!" Enough said.
3. Verne Lundquist, college football on CBS. No other voice in college football says big game like Lundquist. (I enjoy Lundquist's work on college basketball, too, just wish he wasn't paired with Bill Raftery.)
4. Len Kasper, Chicago Cubs on WGN and Comcast Chicago. Has become an incredibly comfortable listen for a team that's often uncomfortable to watch.
5. Gus Johnson, college basketball on FOX Sports. I know many people hate his over-the-top calls, but I love them.
6. Ian Darke, soccer on ESPN and NBC Sports Network.
7. Al Michaels, NFL on NBC. I still would rather hear him doing baseball calls, but he's the best play-by-play guy in the NFL at the moment.
8. Brad Nessler, college football and college basketball on ESPN and ABC. The guy's a fun listen no matter what he calls, and he works a lot.
9. Wayne Larrivee, college football and college basketball on Big Ten Network. I might enjoy hearing his voice more than any other announcer in sports. He'd be higher on this list if he wasn't the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers. Just being honest.
10. Joe Buck, NFL and Major League Baseball on FOX. For no reason other than you know it's a big game when Joe Buck is there. And his dad was great.