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Monday, June 18, 2007

Boston Globe: Ryan: The amazing Mr. Scully

XM Radio subscriber Bob Ryan appraises Vin Scully, yet gives props to Ed Farmer and Ted F. Leitner!?

Vin Scully is 79. His famous voice is just about intact. The least you can say about its strength and timber is that it sounds like someone doing a pretty good imitation of Vin Scully. At his peak, of course, he was The Man, the Greatest of All-Time. His description of the ninth inning of the 1965 Sandy Koufax perfect game against the Cubs has been famously printed as literature. It is beyond perfect. I have it in my copy of “The Fireside Book of Baseball.” You will be thanking me if you go out of your way to find it. ....

Now in these three innings he was not great. He was fine, but not great. He got to call back-to-back-to-back homers by 7-8-9 guys Wilson Betemit, Matt Kemp and pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo.

He did the job, is what I’m saying. But he didn’t knock your socks off. At first.

Then Juan Pierre hit one inside the first base bag and the foul line. And here is Vin Scully ... “There’s a rabbit on the loose! (pause) ... and there’s a belly-flop into third!”

C’mon, how cool is that?

Hat tip to Boston Sports Media.

Greg Franklin Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:00 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, dodgers

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   1. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:34 AM (#2407781)
Scully is probably the second best active broadcaster. That's not based on totality of career, that's based on right now. These days there are a couple of other guys who are pretty close, but they haven't passed him--and they're all on what could be called the "downside" of their careers.

The up and comers? Now there's a sorry bunch. Personality is too dangerous, so only cardboard morons from now on.
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:40 AM (#2407785)
And, say what we will about Farmer or Leitner--they both annoy the pants off me (though it's fairly easy to get my pants off. . .)--but they have personality. Individual personality, that is, not off-the-rack in-your-faceness. The broadcaster of tomorrow either has that type of persona, a la Matt Vasgersian, or none at all, a la Dave Wills or Glen Geffner.

A few exceptions slip through, of course, but not many.
   3. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:50 AM (#2407788)
Without Vin Scully, I'm not a baseball fan.
   4. Repoz Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:04 AM (#2407792)
The up and comers? Now there's a sorry bunch. Personality is too dangerous, so only cardboard morons from now on.

Amazingly...after listening to Dave Sims for years here in NY...he might be one of the best PBP dudes around.
   5. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:16 AM (#2407795)
And, say what we will about Farmer or Leitner--they both annoy the pants off me (though it's fairly easy to get my pants off. . .)--but they have personality. Individual personality, that is, not off-the-rack in-your-faceness. The broadcaster of tomorrow either has that type of persona, a la Matt Vasgersian, or none at all, a la Dave Wills or Glen Geffner.

I listened to Wills do the White Sox pre/postgame show, and thought he would be a decent replacement for John Rooney when the murmurs of his departure started getting louder. He just left a year too early.

Farmer could use a professional, albeit likely vanilla voice, to complement his coarse delivery. He and Rooney played off each other very well, but with Farmer taking the lead and Singleton still years behind the curve, it's just too much Farmer.
   6. Old Matt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:31 AM (#2407800)
It was a pleasure to listen to Scully this past week for the Mets-Dodgers games. I learned more about the Mets players in those three games than I have all season. He just plain does his research, which sadly, not enough broadcast "journalists" do these days.
   7. Hombre Brotani Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:46 AM (#2407803)
The other thing about Scully is that it's wonderfully obvious that he enjoys his time at the ballpark, and listening to him helps me enjoy my time listening to him at the park. I'm sure I'd like baseball with or without Scully, but I'm not sure I'd love it without him.
   8. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:35 AM (#2407806)
Amazingly...after listening to Dave Sims for years here in NY...he might be one of the best PBP dudes around.


I live in Seattle, and I've been very impressed with Dave Sims on this years' Mariners broadcasts. Dave Niehaus is still a joy to listen to (although he gets something wrong these days just about every inning), but I've always found Rick Rizz unbearable. Sims has a pleasant voice, knows about the game, and slips in music references (Chuck Berry's "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man" the other day) so smoothly that you wouldn't know they were there unless you recognised them...
   9. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:42 AM (#2407808)
Yes, I keep forgetting that Sims has joined the Mariners. I haven't heard him do baseball, but his NFL broadcasts are outstanding.
   10. slackerjack Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:52 AM (#2407809)
Dan Shulman has my vote as the next great. His voice is silky smooth, and he's very smart. He also does a great job of capturing the excitement of a moment, while at the same time staying in complete control. If you want to listen to his work, he usually does radio work for the Sunday night games on ESPN.
   11. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 18, 2007 at 08:08 AM (#2407821)
He is excellent. It's a shame that he doesn't do regular work for a team. The one bad thing I have to say about him is that I was unimpressed--to say the least--by the way he openly rooted for the Cubs during the 2003 NLCS. He was doing a national broadcast, and there's no excuse for that.

He didn't just act dejected when the whole Bartman thing happened, either; that would be understandable, as it's the point of view of the moment. For the whole series, he got excited when the Cubs did something good, and didn't have the same reaction to the Marlins.
   12. Justin T's pasta pass was not revoked Posted: June 18, 2007 at 08:32 AM (#2407823)
I think Shulman regularly biases his call in favor of the team that is "the story" of that game for ESPN. And if there is no "story", he roots for the home team. It's something I've observed listening to his games.

I really like Len Kaspar.
   13. Phil Coorey. Posted: June 18, 2007 at 08:37 AM (#2407825)
I sometimes wish I was a Dodgers fan, so I could hear him more often. I remember in a Mets game last year, he was saying some amazing stuff about David Wright that none of the Mets fans there even knew about (graduation speech, I think). I also just downloaded an MP3 of his 9th inning call from the Koufax perfect game in 1965.

He talks about baseball and makes it interesting. He doesn't get sidetraceked from the game like the NESN clowns seem to be doing more often.

My cousin was telling me that he was amazing, when he used to do the Augusta Masters in the early eighties as well.
   14. curmudgeon66 Posted: June 18, 2007 at 12:48 PM (#2407867)
I, too, remember Scully as being the best in the business many years ago, but lost touch with him when he left national TV, because here on the East Coast we don't get too many Dodger games. However, with the advent of XM radio and the MLB Extra Innings package I was reintroduced to Vin a couple of years ago. He still sounds great, but man what a disappointment from what I remembered of him.

For one thing, because he works alone he apparently feels that he has to talk enough for two people, otherwise his bosses might decide to give him a color man. The result is that he never shuts up! There's never even a 10-second pause for breath in his delivery, just constant chatter. And on TV it's even worse, because he does the TV commentary exactly like he's still doing radio: describing everything you are watching on the screen like a radio broadcaster would, e. g., "Schmidt winds, here's the pitch, slider on the outside corner for a called strike." Hey, Vin, we can SEE that he's winding and throwing and it's a slider on the corner.

IMO Scully is a shell of his former self, but that's just my $.02.
   15. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: June 18, 2007 at 12:51 PM (#2407869)
"Three times in his sensational career has Sandy Koufax walked out to the mound to pitch a fateful ninth where he turned in a no-hitter. But tonight, September the 9th, nineteen hundred and 65, he made the toughest walk of his career, I'm sure, because through eight innings he has pitched a perfect game. He has struck out 11, he has retired 24 consecutive batters, and the first man he will look at is catcher Chris Krug, big right-hand hitter, flied to second, grounded to short. Dick Tracewski is now at second base and Koufax ready and delivers: curveball for a strike.

0 and 1 the count to Chris Krug. Out on deck to pinch-hit is one of the men we mentioned earlier as a possible, Joey Amalfitano. Here's the strike 1 pitch to Krug: fastball, swung on and missed, strike 2. And you can almost taste the pressure now. Koufax lifted his cap, ran his fingers through his black hair, then pulled the cap back down, fussing at the bill. Krug must feel it too as he backs out, heaves a sigh, took off his helmet, put it back on and steps back up to the plate.

Tracewski is over to his right to fill up the middle, Kennedy is deep to guard the line. The strike 2 pitch on the way: fastball, outside, ball 1. Krug started to go after it and held up and Torborg held the ball high in the air trying to convince Vargo but Eddie said nossir. One and 2 the count to Chris Krug. It is 9:41 p.m. on September the 9th. The 1-2 pitch on the way: curveball, tapped foul off to the left of the plate.

The Dodgers defensively in this spine-tingling moment: Sandy Koufax and Jeff Torborg. The boys who will try and stop anything hit their way: Wes Parker, Dick Tracewski, Maury Wills and John Kennedy; the outfield of Lou Johnson, Willie Davis and Ron Fairly. And there's 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies. Twenty nine thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine paid.

Koufax into his windup and the 1-2 pitch: fastball, fouled back out of play. In the Dodger dugout Al Ferrara gets up and walks down near the runway, and it begins to get tough to be a teammate and sit in the dugout and have to watch. Sandy back of the rubber, now toes it. All the boys in the bullpen straining to get a better look as they look through the wire fence in left field. One and 2 the count to Chris Krug. Koufax, feet together, now to his windup and the 1-2 pitch: fastball outside, ball 2. (Crowd boos.)

A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts. The pitch was outside, Torborg tried to pull it over the plate but Vargo, an experienced umpire, wouldn't go for it. Two and 2 the count to Chris Krug. Sandy reading signs, into his windup, 2-2 pitch: fastball, got him swingin'!

Sandy Koufax has struck out 12. He is two outs away from a perfect game.

Here is Joe Amalfitano to pinch-hit for Don Kessinger. Amalfitano is from Southern California, from San Pedro. He was an original bonus boy with the Giants. Joey's been around, and as we mentioned earlier, he has helped to beat the Dodgers twice, and on deck is Harvey Kuenn. Kennedy is tight to the bag at third, the fastball, a strike. 0 and 1 with one out in the ninth inning, 1 to nothing, Dodgers. Sandy reading, into his windup and the strike 1 pitch: curveball, tapped foul, 0 and 2. And Amalfitano walks away and shakes himself a little bit, and swings the bat. And Koufax with a new ball, takes a hitch at his belt and walks behind the mound.

I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world.

Sandy fussing, looks in to get his sign, 0 and 2 to Amalfitano. The strike 2 pitch to Joe: fastball, swung on and missed, strike 3!

He is one out away from the promised land, and Harvey Kuenn is comin' up.

So Harvey Kuenn is batting for Bob Hendley. The time on the scoreboard is 9:44. The date, September the 9th, 1965, and Koufax working on veteran Harvey Kuenn. Sandy into his windup and the pitch, a fastball for a strike! He has struck out, by the way, five consecutive batters, and that's gone unnoticed. Sandy ready and the strike 1 pitch: very high, and he lost his hat. He really forced that one. That's only the second time tonight where I have had the feeling that Sandy threw instead of pitched, trying to get that little extra, and that time he tried so hard his hat fell off -- he took an extremely long stride to the plate -- and Torborg had to go up to get it.

One and 1 to Harvey Kuenn. Now he's ready: fastball, high, ball 2. You can't blame a man for pushing just a little bit now. Sandy backs off, mops his forehead, runs his left index finger along his forehead, dries it off on his left pants leg. All the while Kuenn just waiting. Now Sandy looks in. Into his windup and the 2-1 pitch to Kuenn: swung on and missed, strike 2!

It is 9:46 p.m.

Two and 2 to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away. Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch:

Swung on and missed, a perfect game!

(38 seconds of cheering.)

On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California. And a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games. He has done it four straight years, and now he caps it: On his fourth no-hitter he made it a perfect game. And Sandy Koufax, whose name will always remind you of strikeouts, did it with a flurry. He struck out the last six consecutive batters. So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record books, that "K" stands out even more than the O-U-F-A-X. "

http://www.salon.com/people/feature/1999/10/12/scully_koufax/
   16. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 18, 2007 at 03:22 PM (#2408006)
Farmer's delivery is "coarse"? Gee, I think the only thing he's got going for him is the mellow, even way he announces. It's what he says that gets to me...more clichés than you can shake a stick at, and what isn't clichéd is vapid. And Singleton is indeed no help. I miss John Rooney.
   17. HowardMegdal Posted: June 18, 2007 at 03:51 PM (#2408024)
I don't find the Dodgers to be a particularly interesting team, but I never tire of a Scully broadcast. XM only gives you three innings of Scully- I take my laptop into the bedroom to listen as I get to bed. He never disappoints. How rare a statement that is on people who you take into the bedroom... the only other person it was true about, I married.
   18. Hombre Brotani Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:17 PM (#2408042)
A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts.
Isn't that a wonderful turn of a phrase? I'll agree with curmudgeon that Vin isn't what he was, the greatest announcer in sports history. What he is now is merely the one of the best announcers around.

What I find interesting about the man is that he seems to be very self-conscious about his style. A few moments after he called Bonds' 71st that broke McGwire's single-season mark, he confided (as if he were talking to you privately instead of to millions at once) that he's read many times people enjoyed him best when he went silent to let the audience listen to the live crowd reaction, and that he wasn't sure if he should be more verbal about Bonds' historic moment than he was. It seems funny to me that, after over 50 years in the booth and with all the accolades he's received, that he still thinks he can do better.
   19. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:35 PM (#2408066)
It seems funny to me that, after over 50 years in the booth and with all the accolades he's received, that he still thinks he can do better.

It's probably that attitude that makes him what he is.
   20. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:59 PM (#2408088)
The broadcaster of tomorrow either has that type of persona, a la Matt Vasgersian, or none at all, a la Dave Wills or Glen Geffner.


I really enjoyed listing to Vasgersian call the Dodgers-Angels game on Saturday. He knows his stuff and is easy to listen to. Shulman is of course very good.

It's easy to forget there are some good guys out there when you are subjected to so much Joe Buck and Chip Carey.
   21. The Essex Snead Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:13 PM (#2408103)
It was a pleasure to listen to Scully this past week for the Mets-Dodgers games. I learned more about the Mets players in those three games than I have all season. He just plain does his research, which sadly, not enough broadcast "journalists" do these days.


I can't believe a Mets fan is complaining about their play-by-play team, when Cohen / Darling / Hernandez is, for my money, one of the best (if not THE best) TV broadcast team working today. Yes, even when Hernandez is being an @sshat. They're knowledgable, inquisitive, and fun to listen to.
   22. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:24 PM (#2408110)
Farmer's delivery is "coarse"? Gee, I think the only thing he's got going for him is the mellow, even way he announces. It's what he says that gets to me...more clichés than you can shake a stick at, and what isn't clichéd is vapid. And Singleton is indeed no help. I miss John Rooney.

Maybe "coarse" isn't the right word, but somebody who's never heard him before might derive from his tone that he doesn't enjoy his job.
   23. Random Transaction Generator Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:28 PM (#2408114)
The best team I ever heard live was Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez (during Jays broadcasts).
Shulman had a great PBP voice, Martinez had a really good idea of what the next pitch/play would be.

Often, Shulman would lob an easy question to Martinez, just to get a good prediction, story or quote. Then Shulman would run with it, and Martinez would finish the point. It was like watching a sweet double-play team.

I was more upset when the Jays hired Martinez as their manager (thus breaking up a great broadcast team), than when they fired him.
   24. HowardMegdal Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:31 PM (#2408116)
"I can't believe a Mets fan is complaining about their play-by-play team, when Cohen / Darling / Hernandez is, for my money, one of the best (if not THE best) TV broadcast team working today. Yes, even when Hernandez is being an @sshat. They're knowledgable, inquisitive, and fun to listen to."

I didn't take this to be complaining. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, though I don't even qualify my enjoyment of Hernandez- it is universal for me.

But Scully seems to know everything. He has stories about players' nephews. Distinguishing between Cohen and today's Scully in terms of better is like choosing between Roth and Updike for me- both have greatness, and it isn't possible to distinguish better at a certain point- it's about personal taste.
   25. Old Matt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:01 PM (#2408132)
Exactly. I've grown up listening to Cohen on the FAN and he was all I knew (besides Harry Kallas, who I respect dearly, too). But listening to Scully is just in a class of its own. Like Howard said, he just knows everything.
   26. Mike Hampton's #1 Fan Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:01 PM (#2408133)
I don't find the Dodgers to be a particularly interesting team, but I never tire of a Scully broadcast.

I'm in much the same boat -- not that it's a bad boat to be in.

I'm not a Dodgers fan; I'm not a fan of any team in the NL West, or even really interested in them on the days when San Diego isn't starting Maddux. And yet, when evening rolls around, I'll glance at the day's game schedule to see if L.A. is playing at home that day. If they are, and if I have the satellite radio handy, as often as not I'll turn it on, tune to the proper channel, and enjoy the first three innings.

Scully has his faults as an announcer, nowadays. His voice, though, is not one of them. There's something about the sound of it that makes everything seem in its right and proper place, that makes the day seem like a good one no matter how awful the rest of it may have been, that makes it easy to sit back, relax a little bit, listen, and enjoy.
   27. Dr Love Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:01 PM (#2408134)
When I was in college I interned with the Dodgers for a summer. On my first day, I'm in line for lunch at the press box and who should get in line behind me? Vin Scully. It was a pretty cool way to meet him and, if only for a minute or so, discuss what's on the menu for lunch.
   28. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: June 18, 2007 at 09:35 PM (#2408340)
And on TV it's even worse, because he does the TV commentary exactly like he's still doing radio: describing everything you are watching on the screen like a radio broadcaster would, e. g., "Schmidt winds, here's the pitch, slider on the outside corner for a called strike." Hey, Vin, we can SEE that he's winding and throwing and it's a slider on the corner.

He only does this in the first three innings, when he is simulcast on TV and radio.

I certainly don't hate him, and he is better than the vast majority of current announcers, but I really think Vin is overvalued by a lot of people. Someone mentioned above that he learned more about the Met players from Scully than he has all year from (presumably) Met broadcasts. Well, over this weekend, he did teach me a few facts about Angel players that I didn't know -- but he also told me many things that weren't exactly accurate, either. He also tends to get repetitive over the course of series. He likes to go on tangents or harp on random, small details of little import to the action.

He does have a vast knowledge of the game's history, and does seem to enjoy it, which are huge positive points.
   29. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: June 18, 2007 at 09:58 PM (#2408360)
One time I heard Scully say "If you were like me as a kid, you were a big fan of Mel Ott and the New York Giants." Whenever he starts telling stories like that, it seems like he's embarrassed and he ends with "Meanwhile, here in 2007..."

Rain delays when channel 9 doesn't have a Family Feud cued up are great.
   30. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: June 18, 2007 at 09:59 PM (#2408361)
I have only listened to a few games Scully called (on TV). Gowdy>>>Scully. Not a big fan of Scully's sing-song style. It might work better for me on radio, but on TV, me no likee.

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