But truly, the most momentous baseball story this season is the farewell of Dodgers announcer Vin Scully. The man has been calling Dodgers' games -- solo -- for 67 seasons. And throughout, he's been setting a standard for excellence that no one else approaches.
The Dodgers are my nominal "other team," but my love and appreciation of Scully has little to do with the Dodgers. I love baseball on the radio. As far as I'm concerned, it's the only thing radio is good for, but it's a perfect match.
When I watch baseball on TV, I like to get the audio from the radio broadcast, and I've done that for as long as I can remember. My truly favourite radio baseball scenario is driving with Allan, preferably on a baseball road trip, but any road trip will do, turning the radio dial until I find a baseball game, and listening to the game as the scenery rolls by. That's a little slice of heaven.
Baseball is made for radio, and baseball radio was made for Scully. Or maybe Scully made baseball radio. Maybe his relaxed, conversational style, the depth and breadth of his knowledge, and his respectful attitude -- never mean-spirited, never fawning, made the perfect marriage of sport and medium endure for all these years.
Today, the final day of the 2016 season, all games start at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. I'm going to watch the Dodgers-Giants live, then watch David Ortiz's final regular season game on delay. Two men who have helped make the game great.
The LA Times with some thoughts on today's game.
It will be a very pleasant good afternoon, and a wonderfully fitting one too: Vin Scully, calling his final game, with the playoffs on the line for his boyhood team.Here's an excerpt from "A guide to appreciating Vin Scully if you weren’t there to appreciate him the whole time," by Grant Brisbee.
After Scully delighted us with a career for the ages, the baseball gods have rewarded him with a finale for the ages. Some voices go hoarse without ever calling a clincher. In the final four games of his career, Scully could call two.
In his farewell game at Dodger Stadium, Scully called the game in which the Dodgers, his employers of 67 years, clinched the National League West.
On Sunday, his last day behind the microphone, Scully will call the game in which the San Francisco Giants could clinch a wild-card spot — 80 years to the day after he says he walked past a laundry, saw the score of a World Series game in which the New York Giants had gotten pummeled, and declared his allegiance for the Giants.
Baseball on the radio sticks around as a kind of anachronism as the rest of the world shifts to television for its news and entertainment, and it sticks around long after the quality of televised baseball improves. Not only is it the format that you can sneak up to your room, follow at work, and bring to the beach with you, but the pace of the game fits it perfectly.Plus: Love letters to Vin Scully from some of his legion of fans.
Baseball is action and inaction, with the gaps giving us time to breathe, time to contemplate the next move. It’s sort of a cliché to compare baseball to chess, but ... c’mon, the fastball’s the rook, the curveball’s the bishop, the slider’s the knight ... here, let me draw you a diagram. As the catcher and pitcher are figuring this all out, the hitter is going through the permutations in his head, too. Runners are leading. The crowd is roaring. Everyone crouches down and waits for the next active moment. There’s tension. Oh, how there’s tension.
And there’s a voice describing it all. When you’re following the radio, you get one sense to work with, and then you have to fill the rest in on your own. That means your imagination has to do at least a quarter of the work, and sometimes it sighs and complains, but it’s OK because you’re your imagination’s biggest fan. It was designed just for you, you know.
Scully was that voice for everyone, echoing through the garage while you were under a car, in the car as you were going for a drive, at the mechanic’s because you had no business being under the car in the first place. When you’re young, old, in-between, with an old friend, remembering an old friend, everywhere.
When television took over, Scully spent more and more time on the medium, for different sports and different audiences. But the foundation of the affection felt for him, the necessity of him, was built on the stream of consciousness coming over the radio. It was perfect for him. Baseball was perfect for the radio. He was perfect for baseball. The feedback loop got stronger with each decade.
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It helps that Scully is the best, of course, a master storyteller with a photographic memory and appreciation for tangents. It helps that his voice is unquestionably the archetype of what a sports broadcaster’s voice should be — calm, sonorous, with enough range to let you know when the really important stuff is happening. It helps that he knows he’s there in service of the game, not the other way around, which means there are times when it’s better to shut up and let the crowd call the game for a little bit.
It’s possible that Scully holds the highest possible approval rating for anyone who’s done any job in the history of the world. ...
Everyone else loves him. Probably because he’s the best.