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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vin Scully, the poet laureate of baseball - CBS News

A celebration of Vin Scully.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:10 PM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bobbleheads, dodgers, vin scully

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   1. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4237322)
If he were the poet laureate of baseball, nobody would have any clue who the hell he was and he would be completely irrelevant.
   2. BirdWatcher Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4237323)
OK, I'm ready for the slings and arrows - but is there anybody else out there who can't stand Vince Scully? And I'm talking about Vince Scully today, not some mythical figure from the past. And I'm talking about Vince the announcer, not Vince the person. I'm sure he is a nice fellow and I have as much respect for old age as the next person. Melodic ? Poetic ? How about a dull, mind numbing monotone. Do you want to know where a player was born, where he grew up, where he went to high school and college, then Vince is your man, especially if it's a local California boy. Because that's about the only information you are ever going to get during a Scully broadcast. Yes, there are a lot of bad broadcasting teams out there, but that's hardly grounds for defending Scully. In the end, however, it's this insipid love affair with "the voice." I just don't get it.
   3. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4237324)
Go die in a fire.
   4. salvomania Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4237327)
is there anybody else out there who can't stand Vince Scully


Vince Scully?
   5. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4237330)
I think what makes Vin (not Vince) so well liked is that the broadcast is about the game, not him. He doesn't do catch phrases, he doesn't scream and yell over the moment, he has no agenda, he simply informs and allows the action to speak for itself.

I don't heat him often these days but when I do he sounds like he's still on top of the action. The guy is 80 I think so he's probably lost a bit off his fastball but compare him to a lot of other announcers out there and I think he is as well schooled on the game today as anyone.

Obviously if you like the loud, boisterous type, he's not going to be your cup of tea. If you like Chris Berman or Gus Johnson types then I imagine you won't go for Vin. The other thing about Vin, and again this is based on history as much as recent samples, is that he does not seem to let his story telling get in the way of the action. He chooses appropriate moments for his anecdotes. Getting to hear someone who saw Mantle or Snider play and reference them when discussing the stars of today is great for me.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4237331)
OK, I'm ready for the slings and arrows - but is there anybody else out there who can't stand Vince Scully?


I like Vin Scully, but I've criticized some of his quirks on this site, and I was excoriated for it. I don't think he has a monotone, actually, I quite like his voice.

I agree that the extreme focus on anecdotes is annoying. "Did you know that Steve Trachsel's uncle owned a hardware store? That's why they called him The Clawhammer when he was in high school." And they are often repeated the next day and the next day.
   7. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: September 16, 2012 at 03:18 PM (#4237337)
If he were the poet laureate of baseball, nobody would have any clue who the hell he was and he would be completely irrelevant.


Poets laureate are always people who are well-known, usually super-famous, in the poetry world. Someone who knows contemporary poetry will usually know the poet laureate about as well as a baseball fan knows Scully. The real issue is that once you become poet laureate your work goes to hell. Instead of writing whatever you are interested in and good at, you spend a lot of time talking about poetry, promoting poetry, and sometimes, God help you, writing occasional poetry about some semi-important event or other. There is also the danger that the poet laureate will go full-on People's Poet and do nothing but attempt to capture the national spirit in what will inevitably be appalling verse. The only thing good about the laureateship is that it only lasts for a year. In the UK one is treated to the spectacle of poor Andrew Motion spending a decade writing #### poems about famous people on their birthdays. This is cruel and probably contravenes some aspect of the Geneva Convention.

We'll know that Scully is the poet laureate of baseball if he starts missing games to speak at schools and to make 90 second appearances on CNN, and if he makes incessant use of the word "halcyon" as he discusses how baseball is a metaphor for the American way of life.
   8. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 16, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4237345)
Vin Scully did nothing, didn't even lift a finger, while genocide raged in Darfur.
   9. Morty Causa Posted: September 16, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4237347)
Interesting stuff about poet laureates. I would just say that expecting poet laureates to do great work after they are made poet laureate is probably like complaining that someone elected to the HOF doesn't ever win the MVP afterwards. Or expecting those movie stars/directors/producers who get a lifetime achievement Oscar to do their best work after that. You become poet l. after your best is behind you. Same with Nobel Prizes in Lit. There might be exceptions. Yeats stayed pretty great after his Nobel until about the year before his death. I think Richard Wilbur went on to write some nice poems after his term as laureate, but, still, his best was long ago in the past.
   10. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 16, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4237348)
I like Vin Scully, but I've criticized some of his quirks on this site, and I was excoriated for it.
You're entitled to your opinion. It's a terrible, horrible, awful, no good opinion, but you're entitled to it.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: September 16, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4237355)

I like Vin Scully, but I've criticized some of his quirks on this site, and I was excoriated for it.

You're entitled to your opinion. It's a terrible, horrible, awful, no good opinion, but you're entitled to it.


Agreed. As someone who criticized the last few years of Jack Buck, I know that it's hard to go against the ingrained opinion, but with regards to Vin, you are factually wrong if you don't like his current broadcasts.....criticize away, but still the best in the game(I know that bar is awfully low)

   12. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: September 16, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4237357)
Interesting stuff about poet laureates. I would just say that expecting poet laureates to do great work after they are made poet laureate is probably like complaining that someone elected to the HOF doesn't ever win the MVP afterwards. Or expecting those movie stars/directors/producers who get a lifetime achievement Oscar to do their best work after that. You become poet l. after your best is behind you. Same with Nobel Prizes in Lit. There might be exceptions. Yeats stayed pretty great after his Nobel until about the year before his death. I think Richard Wilbur went on to write some nice poems after his term as laureate, but, still, his best was long ago in the past.


The problem isn't that poets laureate don't do good work after winning the laureateship, it's that they do terrible work during their tenure as poet laureate. This is difficult in that the term of their laureateship is the period in which they will be most visible to the non-poetry world, and so the non-poetry world is often treated to a lot of subpar poetry. When the laureateship was a three year appointment it would affect some poets so much that they never recovered (this happened most obviously to Robert Pinsky), but now that it's a one year gig it's not such a problem.

It's also true that most poets laureates don't do their best work after their laureateship, but this is more a function of age than the laureateship. Appointees are almost always over 60, and often over 80. Hell, Stanley Kunitz was 69 when he became poet laureate in 1974, and then he was appointed again in 2000. But still, There are poets who do good work at an advanced age -- I just got through the 88-year-old David Ferry's brand new collection, which is excellent if extremely depressing.
   13. TerpNats Posted: September 16, 2012 at 04:37 PM (#4237376)
Age affects everyone, even announcers. As much as I enjoyed listening to Harry Kalas, he wasn't quite as sharp in his final few years. Some of that may have been from the loss of colleague and friend Rich Ashburn; their chemistry in the booth was genuine and splendid. But Harry had lost a bit off his fastball past 2000, and I'm just glad for his sake he was able to call the final out of a Phillies' World Series title before he left us.

The times I hear Vin on MLB Network, he's still solid, still listenable, still knowledgeable.
   14. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: September 16, 2012 at 04:44 PM (#4237378)
It probably helps my evaluation of Scully that I hear him intermittently, in short bursts - but he's still great, afaict.
(And I like Gus Johnson.)
   15. Comic Strip Person Posted: September 16, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4237387)
Birdwatcher: others have offered their opinions of various elements of your complaint, but let me offer one more: don't say that you "have respect for old age". Ever again. That's a stupid thing to respect; Vin hasn't been an annual contestant in the Hunger Games. You can offer deference to people because of their advanced age, or you can respect your elders because they have insight, wisdom, or experience, but don't give respect simply for the accomplishment of not dying. In most cases, this was done with little or no effort.
And, before you tell us that you meant something different or more meaningful: save it. When you come criticizing people for their communication style and skills, you get no free pass.
   16. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4237390)
My wife is the executive director of a major poetry press. Even she doesn't give a flying #### who the poet laureate is or what he has to say about anything. Yes, they are all famous: the Pinskies and Simics and Halls and Collinses of the poetry world. But the post itself is simply utterly pointless.

In fact, as soon as she gets home I am going to ask her who the poet laureate is, and I bet she gets it wrong. I predict she will say "uh.." then guess Charles Simic or Donald Hall.
   17. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:09 PM (#4237392)
There are poets who do good work at an advanced age -- I just got through the 88-year-old David Ferry's brand new collection, which is excellent if extremely depressing.

A pretty old (though not as ancient and hoary as he is today) Donald Hall wrote one of my favorite lines of baseball poetry after his wife Jane Kenyon died in 1995:

"You would have admired the Mariners
Still hanging on in October,
Like blue asters surviving frost."
   18. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4237396)
The surest way I can express how much I still enjoy Vin's game calls... I get MLB Extra Innings, so I have a lot of baseball to watch and not enough time to watch them. I generally skip all commentary, skipping 10 seconds at a time between pitches to see what happens, then move on to the next game.

I never do this for Dodger games when Vin's got the call. He's still too good to miss.
   19. AT-AT at bat@AT&T Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4237417)
He's still too good to miss.

That basically sums it up !
The great thing about America is that everyone can have their opinion, but in this case, i am pretty sure even the people who "don´t like scully" are going to miss him someday !
I will, but i hope that day is far off in the future and he can make the baseball commentary world richer for another 20 years.
So, try to catch every Dodgers game while he´s around and doing his thing, because it is very unique (even more so when he talks about facebook and tweets) !

The real, truly great thing about America is this : Baseball !!

   20. Don Malcolm Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4237419)
"Poet laureate" is sort of a noxious concept, it's really anathema to what the whole notion of writing poetry is supposed to be about...and while the author of the article clearly wants to venerate Vin, it's at best a dubious analogy. Vin is often at his best when he's simply being a low-key wise guy, when he randomly wanders into a kind of homespun surrealism. He is still eloquent, but he ain't grandiloquent, which is the precipice that all "laureates" are always in danger of toppling from.

He's far less sharp about the details of the game than he used to be, but in many ways this now works in his favor. As he gets closer to an age where he'll truly be doddering, he's adjusted the pace and style of his reporting to mitigate those issues, and as a result has found a more relaxed, looser delivery. He's mastered the "circle change" and knows exactly when to use it.

It's OK if people don't like Vin. He's more "old folksy" that he used to be, but he's older now and a great-grandfather, for Crissakes. That he has found a way to incorporate that into his announcing is one of the things that may divide people into camps--the 50% who totally get it, the 2% that don't, and the 48% who haven't a clue one way or the other...
   21. Don Malcolm Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4237420)
Edited due to some weird BTF error message I have never seen before (and hope to never see again!!)
   22. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:52 PM (#4237428)
Edited due to some weird BTF error message I have never seen before (and hope to never see again!!)


"Don Malcolm run! There is a man behind you with a knife! -- Baseball Think Factory"
   23. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 16, 2012 at 06:35 PM (#4237455)
"Don Malcolm run! There is a man behind you with a knife! -- Baseball Think Factory"

that's a feature, not a bug
   24. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: September 16, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4237481)
So I asked my wife who the Poet Laureate was and she said, without missing a beat, Natasha Tretheway. So much for my theory.
   25. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 16, 2012 at 07:30 PM (#4237486)
"Don Malcolm run! There is a man behind you with a knife! -- Baseball Think Factory"

that's a feature, not a bug


"Don Malcolm, don't run everything is fine. There is no one behind you with a knife. -- Baseball Think Factory"

   26. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 16, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4237494)
"You would have admired the Mariners
Still hanging on in October,


Oh, come on. The M's haven't played in October for years...!
   27. Perry Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:00 AM (#4237639)
I think Scully's still pretty great, and love listening to him, but he IS making a lot more mistakes. This weekend during the Cardinal series, he twice within a couple of minutes called Derek Lilliquist (Cards' pitching coach) Dave Duncan, once when the camera was on him. He said David Freese was from Corpus Christi Texas (granted he was born there, but it became rather well known last post-season that he grew up in St. Louis). He called Pete Kozma "Kozmo." I think he is starting to slip just a bit. He's still one of the best around.
   28. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:05 AM (#4237640)
Vin taught me baseball.
   29. Don Malcolm Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:05 AM (#4237641)
"Don Malcolm run! There is a man behind you with a knife! -- Baseball Think Factory"

"Don Malcolm, don't run everything is fine. There is no one behind you with a knife. -- Baseball Think Factory"

Yes, that's right... I got both those messages at the same time!

It's a feature AND a bug!!

Now THAT is brilliant programming on Furtado's part...


   30. base ball chick Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:44 AM (#4237656)
haven't had much time to listen to lots of broadcasts this year - even astros ones, but i switch off brownie and deshaeis (who are great) and turn on vin scully when the astros play the dodgers.

i love his style and am sorry that it will die with him.

   31. Bug Selig Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:44 AM (#4237781)
Vin Scully is the only announcer that I, as a Michigander, would ever put in the same category as our beloved Ernie Harwell.

RIP, Ernie, and keep it coming as long as you can, Vin.
   32. Dan Evensen Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4237791)
#2: Obvious troll is obvious.

I've got a few dozen Vin Scully radio broadcasts on MP3, ranging from some 1957 Dodger games all the way up to the entire 1997 World Series (his last national broadcasts). I've also got a good collection of Scully announced TV games from the 1980s, including Games of the Week, All Star Games, World Series games and so on. I still love listening to Scully today, though it's pretty obvious that he's not quite the same announcer that he once was.

I will say this, though -- Scully knows his stuff, despite his advanced years, and clearly puts more time into preparing for broadcasts than his contemporaries. You know why the likes of Joe Buck run out of things to say after a few innings? They never do their homework.
   33. Bunny Vincennes Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4237836)
Dan,

I have Koufax's perfect game against the Cubs. The broadcast is brilliant. "29,000 fans and a million butterflies...."
   34. phredbird Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM (#4237893)
if you live in los angeles its pretty hard not to appreciate vin.

parked on my couch, with a beer, listening to him on a warm night is how i'm going to remember summers in L.A. for the rest of my life, and gratefully.

thank god he'll be back next year.

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