Another (cranky N.Y.) prespective on the treasure that is Vin Scully

The Dodgers-Rockies game on Prime Ticket was picked up by MLB Network on Thursday — allowing the rest of the country to enjoy Vin Scully’s nine-inning call of the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post — about as cranky a sports TV critic as there is out there in the newspaper biz — posted this column today (linked here) about his unexpected pleasure in getting the MLB feed of Scully:

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I KNOW I should have been watching the rest of the Rangers-Yankees, but . . . The MLB Network, yesterday, carried, live, the Dodgers-Rockies game, the Dodgers’ feed. With Vin Scully. What a treat. Scully has understood the difference between radio and TV since Jack Benny made the switch. On TV, his greatest gift is brevity. He knows exactly when it’s time to say nothing. And he rarely sees anything worth shouting about. He figures that we can see or we wouldn’t be watching. In fact, in the first inning, yesterday, he noted that Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal is a switch hitter, adding, “batting right.” Then he added, as if to credit us and scold himself, “as you can see.”

Sixty years later, Scully never sounds bored or distracted. Or forced. No self-promotional nicknames, no pre-fab signature calls; he says nothing to place himself above the game or anything in it. And, because he works alone, he provides analysis, but no over-analysis. Still, his attention to detail, biographical info and what happened last night is complete.

Yesterday, when LA’s Matt Kemp hit a long homer, Scully correctly characterized it “a monster,” yet barely raised his voice. He doesn’t shout; he italicizes. Besides, he has no home run call beyond what comes naturally. Imagine that: Scully doesn’t rehearse what isn’t scripted. If he were 21, today, fresh out of Fordham, looking for his first gig, a team or radio GM would quickly, easily remove him from consideration for everything that since, good gosh, 1950, so many have cherished.

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Yesterday was another one of those days, one of those broadcasts. He was the stranger you were seated beside at the game who, by the sixth inning, you’d awkwardly tell, “I just wanna let you know that I feel lucky to be seated next to you.” Colorado is as far East that Scully, 81, travels, these days, to call games. There was a rumor in LA, in May, that Scully will retire after this season, his 60th in the Dodgers’ booths, the longest run any broadcaster has had with any team. Scully might have started that rumor when he said he wouldn’t rule out packing it in after this season. Since, though, he seems to have backed off. Perhaps he’ll make 2010, with an even more limited schedule, his last. He says he’ll let us know, but if he’s back there likely will be even less of him. So yesterday’s telecast wasn’t one to take for granted. It was one to soak up every word he said and how he said it. As for those moments when he chose to say nothing, hey, we’re baseball fans — why else would we be watching? — were as good as anything he did say. What a treat.

At 4:30, he broke a short silence with this: “One out, fourth inning, 2-2 tie.” Not great, but perfect. Twenty minutes later, two on for the Dodgers: “In the dirt, and going to third is Matt Kemp on the wild pitch.” There was nothing shout-worthy and the team announcer wasn’t selling it as anything more than what we could see it was. In the sixth, the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead and Scully merely emphasized what too many others would have pulverized: “Ground ball . . . up the middle . . . base hit. And the Dodgers finally get a clutch single.” Scully called the entire game, 3 hours. He missed nothing, never wilted; he kept our heads in it, our eyes on it and never treated us as if we were too stupid to know better. And he’s 81 years old. What a treat.

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  • Tim Chaney

    One of the people I want to meet before I die…

  • laprguy2

    And then there’s the D-team of the ESPNU Guy and the Guy Who Once Dropped His Pants During A Game.