Somewhere in the past decade I gave up on professional baseball.
I don’t know if it was the meatheaded, ill-mannered, less-than-likeable ignoramuses who play the game, or the idiotic commissioner who turned a blind-eye to rampant steroid abuse.
Of course Commissioner Bud Selig had his reasons for ignoring the stench coming from diamonds and clubhouses around the country. The game needed more fans to fill the cheap seats. What better way to get them there than a season-long home run derby between a couple of pimply pin-headed suspected ‘roid rangers?
As the list of suspected steroid abusers inflated, the list of suspect statistics simply grew.
The game had died.
So did the little boy in me who would grab the sports section every morning to peruse box scores and standings and devour game stories, notebooks and features about the game.
The kid who once bought baseball cards for his kids would just as soon buy them serial killer trading cards, which meant never.
Why contribute to the farce? I thought. Why make my kids believe jocks in pinstripes and sanitary socks are any more heroic than hack politicians or convicted Wall Street money changers?
Something happened Friday night that forced me to re-evaluate my hard-line stance.
It started with being hungry.
I left work early and fell asleep about 5:30 p.m.
I woke up about 9 p.m. and went to the kitchen to make something to eat. Standing there debating Top Ramen or fried eggs, I heard Vin Scully’s lilting up-and-down cadence describe a bottom of the ninth, two-out, 0-0 tie and a walk to Matt Kemp that loaded the bases.
I looked over and saw the kid in the next room watching the game. He was buying into the Dodgers, perhaps because of Scully’s magnificent call; certainly because of the situation.
Listening to Scully call the next 10 pitches to Russell Martin, I was hooked too. After running the count up to 3-2, Martin drew a bases-loaded walk that sealed a win for the Dodgers and highlighted a weekend for the Blue Crew that has kept the team unbeaten at Dodger Stadium so far this season.
Although I had considered plunking down $49.99 to buy the Pacquiao-Hatton fight Saturday night, Vin talked me out of it. I watched the Dodgers instead, and again marveled at the smoothness of Scully’s voice and perfection of his call at the end of a 10-inning game.
I guess he should have it down, after all, Vinny’s been doing this for 60 years.
He’s not a homer, he doesn’t give his opinions and it’s amazing to hear him call play-by-play, sometimes without saying anything at all. Even his pitch for Farmer John (“Easternmost in quality, Westernmost in flavor”) has flair.
Turns out there’s a grass-roots call to get Vin Scully named the Grand Marshal of this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade.
“A Cut Above the Rest.”
Need I say more?