Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TBG's Sounds of Summer: Los Angeles Dodgers

Game: Florida Marlins at Los Angeles Dodgers
Date: July 10
Network: FSN-Prime Ticket

Play-by-Play: Vin Scully
Color Commentator: None
Pre-Game Stooge Troika: Patrick O'Neal, Kevin Kennedy and Steve Lyons

"High fly ball into right field, she is GONE!" With those nine words, the venerable voice of Dodgers baseball ripped my heart out on October 15, 1988. It would be years before I could watch the highlights of Kirk Gibson's Game #1 deathblow to my A's. Yet, as much as the end result (still) pains me, I've grown equally disdainful of Jack Buck's national radio call of the home run ("I don't believe what I just saw!"), which has unofficially become the moment's historical record. No disrespect to the late Mr. Buck, but Scully's is arguably the greatest home run call of our generation. Vin Scully's words should be how that home run is remembered. 20 years of my own shock treatments, notwithstanding.

Chemistry: To the best of my knowledge, Scully is the only Major League Baseball TV broadcaster to work solo in the booth. I started listening to him on KTTV-Channel 11 in LA when I was seven years old and in all that time, he's been by himself – save for his appearances on NBC's national Game of the Week when he was often paired with Joe Garagiola. It's amazing how much dead air I've heard while tuned in to two and three-man booths during this feature. Scully keeps a natural, measured pace and connects with his audience like few others can. Unfortunately, he's a victim of my own scoring system. Grade: N/A

Knowledge: I've read some criticism over the years that basically accuses Scully of leaning too heavily on his producers for in-game notes and situational analysis. And, to those people, I officially call bull-plop. On a stolen base by Dodgers OF Andre Ethier, the throw went into centerfield, but Ethier failed to advance to third. Scully immediately noted that Ethier was looking for the ball when he should've been looking towards the third base coach, Larry Bowa. Scully followed that up by suggesting the tempestuous Bowa would let Ethier know about it. Earlier, Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez was thrown out attempting to stretch a single into a double. Scully recognized that the leftfielder was shading towards center, which gave Ramirez the false confidence to try for two. If those are someone else's observations, I'd argue that he learned to recognize them from Scully. Grade: 10/10

Enthusiasm: Former Oakland A's prospect John Baker finally got the call to The Show with the Marlins on the night before this game. Scully spent a few moments before Baker's first at-bat detailing his long journey to the bigs. A pitch or two later, Baker homered over the right field wall for his first Major League hit. Scully's call of the shot was thrilling, as he topped it off with a genuinely sincere "Wow" and an expression of congratulations for Baker and his family in attendance. Again, this was for the road team. His voice will raise a couple of notches for the Dodgers (as it did on a Russell Martin bomb in the sixth inning), but the next time Scully screams over the air will be the first time I've heard it. Grade: 8/10

Bar Stool Q: Scully's memorable calls include Hank Aaron's Ruth-breaking home run in 1974, Bill Buckner's error in the 1986 ALCS and, of course, that Gibson thing. No one can argue that he hasn't lost a little off his fastball ("The league is hitting (pause) a 1.80 ERA off of [Chan Ho] Park"), but this is the same guy who called a lazy fly ball to right field, thusly: "…looking up into the powder blue is Ethier, who makes the catch." Hell, I'd even eschew booze for the evening if it would make Mr. Scully feel more comfortable. Grade: 10/10

Camera/Production: I don't know if the "X-Mo" super slow motion camera is exclusive to Los Angeles and Orange Counties (the Angels use it, too) but, more teams should spring for the technology. It's a terrific way to watch replays of hitters making contact and pitchers throwing breaking stuff. An unintentionally hilarious side effect of Scully's folksy style is listening to him talk over the crappy pre-at bat rap music used by the likes of Dodgers Matt Kemp and James Loney. Grade: 7/10

Homerism: I know that this is reading like a mash note to another man, but if you haven't heard Scully you'll have to trust me when I say there's not a more unbiased broadcaster in the business. He'll gently chide either side when it's deserved, yet can still find time to read the following scouting report on Marlins SP Josh Johnson: "Height: 6'7"; Weight: 240 lbs.; Throws: Right and he's got a little facial hair." But, just so the praise party doesn't get completely out of control, we'll deduct a point since it's still the Dodgers. Grade: -1

Commerciality: This may get my California citizenship revoked, but I've always thought In-n-Out Burger to be WAY overrated. Their commercials are usually just short, simple shots of a Double-Double followed by the "that's what a hamburger is all about" catchphrase. Based only on their great sales and shoddy ads, I'm not sure why they bother. I've long been bugged by that silly "wide-mouthed can…LET'S VENT!" spot for Coors Light. The narrator hypes a "better pour" as one of the can's benefits, but every actor in the ad is swilling straight from the can.

AFLAC Trivia Question: "Jeff Kent has 16 straight seasons with 10 or more home runs. Who holds the record?" (My answer: Hank Aaron; Correct answer: same) 6.5 for 14

Final Grade: 34


that mexican guy said...


Terrific write up, Cam. We've talked a lot about Scully's brilliance but he's really one of those talents you have to hear to appreciate. I was worried that he'd get low balled in a few areas, but even if i werent a Dodgers fan, i'd say you nailed it.

Also, we've had JUST about enough of your In-n-Out bashing young lady.

Mark Smo said...

"I've long been bugged by that silly "wide-mouthed can…LET'S VENT!" spot for Coors Light. The narrator hypes a "better pour" as one of the can's benefits, but every actor in the ad is swilling straight from the can."

That commercial is absurd...is the guy's girl/wife not going to notice when he comes home shitfaced from "venting"...and I think the "better pour" line loosely translates to, "college kids, get drunk even faster!!"

That Bootleg Guy said...

In-n-Out Burger: I made the point to a friend earlier today...they're OK burgers, not great and not worth the 15 minute drive thru wait. Not awful, just "overrated".

Coors Light: It says a lot that the "let's vent" spot isn't as stupid as the "Code Blue" campaign - which actually reduces the IQ of all who watch it.

Anonymous said...

Go with the "animal style" burger and fries at In n Out and I think you'll change your tune bootleg guy. The meat is mustarded up before they fry it and the fries are slathered in chesse and burger sauce. Easy "500" on your eat-o-meter.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I've heard about the awesome power of "animal style" eatin' there. I'll give it a whirl.

But, if it sucks, I'll have your head.

Tom said...

I think we need to address this "Chemistry" issue. I feel it's unfair if Scully is the best you saw and he loses on a technicality. Maybe you can rate him on chemistry of the game (knowing when to raise his voice, knowing when to back off) or something.

No Justice, No Peace.