Can Notre Dame avoid a hurry-up-and-wait offensive scheme? Ask NBC

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The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — If you go to the refrigerator for a snack or drink this season, you could miss a Notre Dame touchdown. That’s how quick coach Brian Kelly’s offense plans to be. It’ll be hurry-up with no huddle.

Kelly doesn’t want anybody or anything slowing down the Irish or his spread formation — one that worked so well in his previous stop at Cincinnati — and that includes NBC, the network that’s had a contract with Notre Dame since 1991.

Kelly said he and athletic director Jack Swarbrick have had conversations with NBC officials about how coverage plans will work with the Irish’s up-tempo style.

“We’ve talked to NBC about the way we like to play the game versus maybe how it was played in the past,” Kelly said Tuesday. “There is certainly a need for us to address it and I think we’re working with NBC to make certain that they get what they need from an advertising standpoint. But, also as the network that carries Notre Dame, that we’re able to do things we need to do as well.”

Kelly said he’s convinced a middle ground can be reached, though he wouldn’t go into specifics about the conversations. Notre Dame’s contract with NBC is reportedly worth $15 million annually for football.

“All we’ve tried to do is address the model that we think would work well with us,” Kelly said. “And there’s got to be a meeting somewhere halfway. And I’m very confident that we are going to be able to do the things that we want to do in terms of pushing the tempo and doing the things without having to go to a commercial break.”

NBC plans to have five shorter breaks per quarter this season rather than four longer ones.

“Over the years, we have reassessed the structure of our commercial breaks numerous times to improve the experience for our viewers and the fans in the stadium,” NBC vice president of communications Chris McCloskey said. “The commercial load this year will be identical to last year. The slight change to the commercial structure is the result of a number of factors done to improve the broadcast, not one single reason.”

== More from USA Today (linked here)

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Chute, a new way to pole dance in Texas

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The Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas — Just a bit outside.

A U.S. Army skydiver was left dangling on a flagpole at Rangers Ballpark after his parachute got entangled during a pregame jump Tuesday night.

The Rangers said the unidentified jumper was uninjured after he unbuckled himself from the chute and dropped a few feet to a work platform on top of the scoreboard, the highest point of the stadium. The jumper could been seen walking away while his parachute whipped in the wind for several more minutes before being removed by stadium workers, who arrived quickly.

The skydiver was among several members the U.S. Army Parchute Team known as the Golden Knights who jumped on the breezy night. The rest landed on the field.

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Throwing SI under the bus on ‘Jordan Rides the Bus’

Among the storylines that comes to light during Ron Shelton’s “Jordan Rides the Bus” documentary that will air as part of ESPN’s “30 For 30″ (Tuesday, 5 p.m.) is Sports Illustrated reporter Steve Wulf’s admission that he wasn’t happy with the way his employer marketed his story on Michael Jordan’s attempt to play professional baseball in 1994.

After he quit playing for the Chicago Bulls in the fall of 1993 following the death of his father, Jordan went to spring training with the Chicago White Sox — having not played baseball since high school. As Shelton explains, Jordan’s father had always wanted him to play baseball, and Jordan was at a point where the NBA wasn’t much fun any more. With baseball, he could honor his father, and get away from the intense spotlight.

Not really.

The skeptical media was all over Jordan for a) taking away our enjoyment of watching him play basketball and b) thinking he could just walk onto a baseball field and become a pro. Aside from that, rumors circulated that it was Jordan’s gambling problems that led to the NBA to suggest he take a few years off, then come back if he felt like it — a story that Shelton addresses in full as well, without letting it dominate the purpose of the documentary.

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Wulf says in the piece that the story he wrote on Jordan’s ’94 spring training wasn’t very complementary, but it was hardly worth a March 14 cover story that read: “Bag It, Michael! Jordan and The White Sox are Embarassing Baseball.” The story, entitled inside as “Err Jordan,” is linked here.

Wrote Wulf:

“Granted, he looks good in a baseball uniform. Granted, he is the greatest basketball player who has ever lived. Granted, a few weeks of batting practice, an intrasquad game and two exhibitions against the Texas Rangers are not a lot to go on. But this much is clear: Michael Jordan has no more business patrolling rightfield in Comiskey Park than Minnie Minoso has bringing the ball upcourt for the Chicago Bulls.”

Now, says Wulf in the doc:

“It wasn’t the story I wrote (as it related to the cover headline)… When I look back on the story, I was a little smarmy and a little wise ass and I kind of regret reading it now. Personally all hell broke loose for me. I knew a s—tstorm was coming but I had no idea how much of a blizzard it would be.”

While that became the opening blast of the media coverage of Jordan’s experiment, the real s–tstorm was the reporting about the gambling.

Shelton gets into all that about 18 minutes. Chicago Tribune writer Sam Smith, also author of the book “The Jordan Rules,” is quoted as saying that reports of the NBA forcing Jordan out is nothing short of “ludicrous.”

Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated also quoted on how media ran off with wild speculation: “When people in the press – I’m not taking myself away from it – start to at least raise that issue, I’m certain that if it was not the breaking point, then it almost was for Jordan.”

Wulf reenters the piece when he says he wanted to go to Birmingham, Ala., to see Jordan play for the Double-A Barons — in part because of the guilt he felt from how that first story was presented by SI.

“I went down to Birmingham and that’s where my eyes were opened,” Wulf says. “I was blown away. He was totally different player at in spring traiing and he had dturned himself into a baseball player and I was astrounded. I say, ‘My God, I was wrong, we were wrong, Sports Illustrated was wrong – Michael Jordan is actually being a baseball player.’”

But the story that Wulf wrote saying all that didn’t run. SI killed it, not wanting to back down on the stance it took months earlier.

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When watching this, also pay attention to the quotes from Jordan’s minor-league hitting coach Mike Barnett, who now works for the Houston Astros’ farm system and is interviewed wearing a Lancaster JetHawks cap. Barnett explains how he changed Jordan’s approach to hitting, squaring up his stance, stopping him from lunging at pitches, and getting him take extra batting practice nearly every morning, noon and night to prove he could hit breaking pitches.

“His worth ethlic was unlike anything I’d ever seen,” said Barnett, the Barons’ hitting coach under Terry Francona from 1993-’95.

Jordan’s statistics actually improved month to month, and he played in the Arizona Fall League in ’94 and did even better than expected. Maybe with a couple hundred games under his belt in the minors …

Could Jordan have ever made it to the big leagues with the White Sox:

Jerry Reinsdorf, who ran the Bulls and the White Sox, claims that if it wasn’t the MLB strike of 1994, “he’d have kept playing and made it to the majors.” Instead, Jordan felt he was put in the middle of the labor dispute, wasn’t having fun playing any more, could have been forced to be a scab player (he wouldn’t do that), and was refreshed enough to join the Bulls again after two seasons away.

For those of us who as media members went through this surreal story as it unfolded, and couldn’t help but wonder what would make someone at the top of his profession suddenly pull away for a strange reason and try something completely difficult on so many levels, this gives much more missing context, and, in retrospect, gives us something to think about.

Check it out.

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Announce yourself, in golden sombrero style

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Most tedious item we saw in today’s USA Today media column, surprisingly by Michael Hiestand:

“Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully announced Sunday that he would return next fall for a 62nd season as the team’s announcer.”

An ounce of discretion would have prevented the word “announcer” to be use more than zero times.

Scully, as well as everyone who does play-by-play on TV or radio, is a broadcaster, not an announcer — that would be the person who delivers the lineups over the public-address system, or introduces the guests on a talk show.

The decision was sent out in a team press release; it really wasn’t announced, but if you had to use the word there, so be it.

And, third, Scully is returning thankfully returning to broadcast games, not to announce them.

We just announce ‘em as we see ‘em.

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Play it forward: Aug. 23-29 on your sports calendar

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Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

MONDAY

MLB: Angels vs. Tampa Bay, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:

An AL East-leading Devil Rays are not only winning comfortably, but looking sharp while doing it. On this current road trip that started with a sweep in Texas and continued through Oakland last weekend, Tampa Bay manager Joe Madden got the players and coaches to buy into brazenly wearing these things he’s called “BRaysers.” That’s a plaid blazer with the Rays blue and white colors, including a sunburst on the pocket. Think Ted Baxter doing the news in Tampa. Maddon picks a theme for each roadie, and this is what he came up with. “It’s high-end stuff. You could see that at Hugo Boss, absolutely; with my fasionista sense, there it is,” Maddon said of the BRaysers, which kind of sounds more like something Kramer would have come up with on “Seinfeld.” Earlier this season, the Rays wore hockey jerseys when they traveled to Toronto and wore all white to Miami. The Angels just got the OK from Mike Scioscia to keep wearing white at home after Labor Day.

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NFL exhibition: Arizona at Tennessee, 5 p.m., ESPN:

In theory, Matt Leinart against Vince Young has intrigue. In practice, like here, it’s still worth watching at least for a quarter. By the way, last Monday’s game on ESPN — the Giants and the Jets, at the New Meadowlands in Jersey — was seen in more than 4.1 million homes (5.6 million viewers). Some can’t get enough of this fake stuff.

TUESDAY

MLB: Dodgers at Milwaukee, 5 p.m., Channel 9:

Why would Hiroki Kuroda even trust that his teammates will score more than one run against a Brewers team that pounded Kershaw and Billingsley during their only other series this year back in May?

MLB: Angels vs. Tampa Bay, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 13:

Don’t try grabbing Evan Longoria’s hat. He’ll chase you. We’ve seen him do it.

WEDNESDAY

MLB: Dodgers at Milwaukee, 5 p.m., Prime:

It’ll be Ted Lilly, current veteran lefthander in the Dodgers’ rotation, coming off a two-hit shutout against Colorado, facing Randy Wolf, former veteran lefthander from the Dodgers’ rotation that, had he stuck around with a more reasonable contract proposal, could have prevented the team from going mid-season shopping for another lefty. But then again, who’s better off?

MLB: Angels vs. Tampa Bay, Angel Stadium, 12:30 p.m., FSW:

This date in Angels history: In 2004, Jeff DaVanon became the first Angels player in 13 years to hit for the cycle in a 21-6 rout of Kansas City. It was also the first time in Anaheim’s 44-year history that it swept an AL opponent in a season series. Wonder how that feels. Dan Haren, 1-4 with a 4.93 ERA in his six starts since the Angels picked him up, gives it another shot. And one last look at Rays outfielder Carl Crawford before the Angels try to chase him down in the offseason.

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Golf: USGA Amateur Championship, first round, 3:30 p.m., Golf Channel:

Them hot-shot graphite-shaft whipper snappers. A year ago, Byeong-Hun An, a 17-year-old high school senior from Florida, went to the head of the class and won the 109th amateur championship with a dominant 7-and-5 victory in South Carolina, becoming the youngest ever to win this thing. That broke a record that stood for only a year — in 2008, 18-year-old Danny Lee set the mark, breaking Tiger Woods’ standard, set in 1995.
Now a freshman at Cal, An will try to defend his title in a field that includes Valencia’s Max Horna, Sherman Oaks’ Greg Moss (College of the Canyons, Loyola Marymount, who recently won the Pasadena City Amateur Championship at Brookside), Pacific Palisades’ Brad Shaw (USC) and Santa Monica’s Maxwell Cohen.
An, by the way, missed the cut at the recent British Open (shooting a 7-over 72-79 after the first two rounds) but still finished better than Nick Faldo and David Duvall.
Golf Channel has rounds two and three (Thursday, 3:30 p.m.) and the quarterfinals (Friday, 9 a.m.); NBC has the semifinals (Saturday, 1-3 p.m.) and the final (Sunday, 1-3 p.m.)

WNBA playoffs: Sparks at Seattle, 8 p.m., ESPN2:

Does the final regular-season matchup between these two matter? (The Sparks lost by a point, in Seattle). Game 2 of the best-of-three is Saturday at noon, Staples Center. If there’s a Game 3, it’s back in Seattle on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

THURSDAY

MLB: Dodgers at Milwaukee, 11 a.m., Prime:

Even with Manny Ramirez back on the active roster, count him out for the Weiner Race. And with Vicente Padilla still on the DL — too many soap bubbles — Carlos Montaserious will make the start again. Which leads us to asking: Whatever happened to John Ely? He’s 4-3 at Triple-A Albuquerque with a 5.98 ERA in nine starts since getting sent down last month. He was 4-7 with a 4.68 ERA when the Dodgers shipped him back, having lost five of six decisions from June 12 to July 10.

NFL exhibition: Indianapolis at Green Bay, 5 p.m., ESPN:

No snow in Lambeau? Then we’re a no-show.

FRIDAY

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MLB: Dodgers at Colorado, 6 p.m., Prime:

In last week’s series of “Hard Knocks” at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers actually took two of three from the Rockies, but literally threw away the middle game of the series with three wild pitches in the top of the 10th. But the hairiest part of that series was Vin Scully’s investigation into the mullet of origin sported by Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Scully said he always thought a mullet was just a fish. “So we went on the computer, and it’s both,” Scully said during a Dodgers-Rockies game last Wednesday. “It’s a hairdo and a fish.” More: “Is the mullet another word for a ponytail? I mean, I’m trying to look at him … where’s the mullet?” Scully then had the camera follow Tulowitzki to the dugout after his at-bat, hoping he’d take his helmet off so he could determine if his mullet was really a ponytail. “So, it’s just a lot of hair, the mullet … hmmm,” Scully concluded. “One away …”

MLB: Angels vs. Baltimore, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:

Under the Orioles’ team hitting statistics, pitcher Brad Bergesen (4-9, 5.80 ERA) leads the way with a .333 average — 1-for-3, that is, when he was forced to hit in an NL park as the Orioles played at Washington, and he was the starting pitcher. In fact, he’s the only Oriole with a batting average better than .300 this season. He’s the starting pitcher on schedule to face the Angels in the first of three here. Still 30-something games out in the AL East, the Big O’s have shown some life with Buck Showalter, as they swept the Angels two weeks ago to improve their record from 32-73 to 35-73. And you know how the Angels have been doing, in general terms, against AL East teams.

NFL exhibition: San Diego at New Orleans, 5 p.m., Channel 2:

Drew Brees plays for … right, the Super Bowl champs. We remember when …

SATURDAY

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Horse racing: Pacific Classic, Del Mar, 4 p.m., TVG:

Respected horse racing writer Bill Finley was trying to make heads or tails out of the decision to race Zenyatta in the $300,000 Clement Hirsch race at Del Mar a couple weeks back instead of the $1 million Pacific Classic today. Aside from the fact Zenyatta should have gone to Saratoga to face Rachel Alexandra to give everyone the race they’ve been waiting to see. “Maybe (owner Jerry) Moss doesn’t need the money,” wrote Finley. “Must be nice.” Richard’s Kid, the defending champ, is supposed to be back with Mike Smith aboard to defend his title in the 1 1/4 mile event, the 20th running of the signature face of Del Mar’s summer season. Smith hasn’t ridden Richard’s Kid since the 2009 Classic. In one of his two starts this year, Richard’s Kid was third in the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10. Also on this card: The Del Mar Mile and the Pat O’Brien

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Mixed martial arts: UFC 118, 7 p.m., PPV, $44.95:

Former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight James Toney has weighed his options and will still get in the Octagan with MMA legend Randy Couture for a “fight” that, for some, highlights this card and could settle which is the better-trained athlete — the boxer or the wrestler-turned-kickboxer? “In (MMA), you have people like Randy Couture who are scared, and will try to hold me like a girl,” said Toney, who is 72-6-3 in his pro boxing career. “I’m going to make him pay for that. Everybody knows that if you’re inside on me, one mistake and that’s your ass. Did y’all tell Randy Couture that I’m wearing smaller gloves? What do you think is going through his head right now? ‘How am I going to stay away from his hands?’ That’s what he’s thinking.” What are we thinking?

MLS: Galaxy vs. Kansas City Wizards, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

It was reported last week that David Beckham, who hasn’t played this year for the Galaxy, remains the top-paid MLS player at $6.5 mil, according to the latest MLS Players Union salary list. The New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry ($5.6 mil) and Rafael Marquez ($5.54 mil) are second and third. And they actually play.

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MLB: Dodgers at Colorado, 5 p.m., Channel 9:

We’ve still got concerns about this humidor that the Rockies use to keep their balls cooled off because of the altitude adjustments. Because, as the team found, their balls can shrink if they’re just put in a closet. They’ve done this since 2002. Obviously, the team isn’t using small-ball to get through this season so far.

MLB: Angels vs. Baltimore, Angel Stadium, 6 p.m., FSW:

They’re giving out a baseball-shaped ceramic candy jar to everyone who makes it into the park. Tootsie rolls optional.

NFL exhibition: Dallas at Houston, 5 p.m., Channel 2; San Francisco at Oakland, 6 p.m.:

A geographic rival will find a way to make it interesting, even if it’s just a practice game.

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SUNDAY

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Little League World Series championship, Williamsport, Pa., noon, Channel 7:

The Little League’s mission statement (linked here) says that its a program that “assists youth in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being … by espousing the virtues of character, courage and loyalty … to develop superior citizens rather than superior athletes.” With that, ABC completes its coverage of the Little League World Series Presented by Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Reduced Sugar.

MLB: Dodgers at Colorado, noon, Channel 9:

Even after the Dodgers have played the Rockies six times in the last nine days, they still have nine more against each other in the Dodgers’ last 31 games.

MLB: Angels vs. Baltimore, Angel Stadium, 12:30 p.m., Channel 13:

Cal Ripken Jr. turned 50 the other day. The streak continues.

NFL exhibition: Pittsburgh at Denver, 5 p.m., Channel 11:

Who’s a bigger deal in Denver today: Ubaldo Jiminez or Tim Tebow?

MLS: Chivas USA vs. D.C. United, Home Depot Center, 7 p.m.:

Kids get in free with a paid adult ticket (as low as $7.50). Some day, they’ll let adults in free, too.

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Our take on Scully: Jeez, don’t apologize to us … it should be the other way around

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Without dragging Shakespeare through any of this, Vin Scully tried to say in so many words that what transpired Saturday night and into Sunday morning was much ado about nothing.

But then again, what’s that other line Scully always uses about the best-laid plans of mice and men?

The city of Los Angeles tosses and turns in their restless slumber when Scully’s future is fodder for conjecture. The 82-year-old was placed uncomfortably again in that situation when the mosquitoes of misinformation began buzzing round, implying that the voice of the Dodgers was all but ready to tell us that he might finally turn off his microphone at the end of this season.

There wasn’t much resolution from a cryptic press conference that had been called for 10:30 a.m. at the Dodger Stadium press box on Sunday morning. No one would confirm Scully’s decision, even as an ESPN Radio program began to do a retrospective of his career and all but give the impression that it knew what was coming.

Finally, after a commercial break, the nationally-beamed show came back on the air at about 9:30 a.m. and reported from a press release that had just been sent out by the team: Scully planned to return for his 62nd season.

Mind your speech a little lest you should mar your fortunes.

So now, Scully was put back into the position to be the calm voice through the storm of more panicked media speculation, which unfortunately has become an annual event.

“First of all, I’m terribly embarrassed, this is the last thing that I wanted, though I see you ever day, and it’s nice to see you every day, I am very embarrassed,” Scully started in a rather quiet voice to the dozens of media members tried to get the truth straight from the Hall of Fame vocal chords.

“The last thing I need is attention. I’m not kidding you when I tell you that I’m really overwhelmed. . . . I apologize if I put anyone through a ringer, wondering ‘Is he, isn’t he.’ It is the nature of the situation, but even so I’m very uncomfortable with it.”

Saturday night, Scully confirmed to a Los Angeles Times reporter that there would be a decision announced the next day about his plans. Scully thought proper etiquette was for the team to disclose it.

To him, a one-sentence note at the end of the team’s daily press information sheet would have been plenty.

But things aren’t that simple when you’re talking about the most talked-about person in Dodgers history.

Scully said he picked up his Sunday edition of the Times and “halfway through the story I thought I’d retired,” he joked with his TV crew when he arrived at his broadcast booth 10 minutes before his press conference.

On the Dodgers’ FSW pregame show, Scully, in true character, took blame for how the message was delivered.

“I guess it was my fault, really,” he said, referring to how rumors of his retirement started a year ago during another conversation with a Times reporter.

“I shouldn’t have said that,” Scully continued about agreeing that 2010 would be a good guess as to when his run might end.

No apology necessary. Please. The mea culpas should come from those who attempt to make your stay here, 50-plus years removed from your Brooklyn foundation, as comfortable as possible.

Unless things change between now and then, Scully’s schedule for 2011 will be as it was for 2010: All home games and road trips for games this side of Denver. All nine innings solo on TV, three innings of simulcast on radio.

Again, it’s come down to consultation with his wife, children, grandchildren and a quick prayer.

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Scully said his wife Sandy told him: ” ‘You love it, do it,’ and so I love it and I’m going to do it.”

A 1982 Hall of Fame inductee, calling all eight of the World Series that the Dodgers have played in going back to 1953, conveyor of 19 no-hitters (and three perfect games) says personal accomplishments aren’t what drive him.

“I just love it so much, it’s like a very good marriage, and when push came to shove, I just did not want to leave,” he said.

He admits he still gets goosebumps – “that’s my barometer” – like the other night when Colorado second baseman Eric Young Jr., threw a Dodger out with a behind-the-back toss as he charged the dribbling grounder.

“I’m thinking,’ Holy mackerel,’” said Scully. “I had goose bumps like it was the first big league game I’d ever seen.”

We still get goose bumps when he describes it. He takes the words right out of our mouth, and makes them sound all that much better.

“I’m just blessed,” Scully. “I’m going to try to do the best I can.”

Same here.

“And please don’t ask me anything about after next year,” he told the reporters. “I’m lucky to look for tomorrow morning.”

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

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Reaction to Scully’s plans to come back for ’11

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== Dodgers TV producer Brad Zager: “I understand what an honor it is to work with him every day and the amount of things I’ve learned over the last seven seasons is immearsurable. It’s rare to work with someone who’s unanimously the greatest broadcaster of all time, but he’s a much better person than broadcaster. And that’s not just around me, but with other broadcasters and players and production people we see in every city. The phone calls I got from everyone asking over the last few hours about his decision just shows how many millions of people he affects. (The thrill of working with) is an understatment. It’s pretty cool. It’s especially authentic to what he says when he refers to the ‘old days.’ That’s something he’s lived through, not just read about. That’s what makes him today so captivating.”

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== Dodgers Spanish-language Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin: “I’m the happiest person in town right now. I’m so pleased Vin is coming back. He’s been a blessing for me to be near him all these years (Jarrin is in his 53rd season) in the growth of my career as an announcer. I respect him immensely.”

== Reds Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman: “There’s never been a better broadcaster in our profession than Vinny, and there never will be. He represents our fraternity better than anybody because he’s without ego, he’s nice to everybody and he’s always got a smile on his face. We’re all known as play-by-play guys. Vinny’s not a play-by-play guy. Vinny’s a storyteller.”

== Dodgers radio broadcaster Rick Monday: “It was a lot like being a kid in a neighborhood and you’re kicking on the door asking Vinny’s wife Sandy: `Can Vinny come out and play again?’ And we’re all delighted that he’s going to come out and play next year. In my life, Vin Scully has always been Dodger baseball.”

== Dodgers owner Frank McCourt: “I’m as thrilled as our fans that Vin will be returning. He is not only the greatest broadcaster of all time, but also a wonderful friend.”

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== Dodgers manager Joe Torre, a former Angels broadcaster: “Aside from all the things we know about him is just the enthusiasm that he has day in and day out. He describes it like no one else has ever describe it. If you listen to a lot of broadcasts you can tell who’s winning and losing by the tone of the voice. Vinny is one of those announcers for the ages who appeals to both sides of the deal.”

== Reds manager and former Dodgers outfielder Dusty Baker: “He did confide in me and say he was (coming back) but I couldn’t say anything other than, ‘If I was Vin, I think (he’ll) stay.’ I’m so glad he’s staying. I grew up a kid (in Riverside) listening to Vin Scully every day. To me, that’s the voice of baseball. I look forward to coming here and I see him.”

== Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, on his Twitter account: “I love you Vin. Thank God we have you for another year. The Dodgers and MLB wouldn’t be the same without you.”

(The Associated Press and Fox Sports West contributed to this posting)

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Much ado about nothing? Scully’s confirmation of a 2011 return brings a collective exhale

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AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Vin Scully shares a laugh with Cincinnati Reds broadcaster and fellow Hall of Famer Marty Brenneman before the start of Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium.

Vin Scully tried to be as discrete as possible as he snuck into his TV booth Sunday morning, about 15 minutes before a press conference had been somewhat called late with a group of reporters awaiting with cameras, tape recorders and Twitter-ready cell phones to chonicle the plans of the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster.

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He already had a rather sheepish look, that much had already been made of something that wasn’t going to happen. If he were Scully-enough about all this, he would have quoted Shakespeare and said all this was much ado about nothing.

All the assembled media had already been told of the official decision about 45 minutes earlier, when the team sent out a press release that the 82-year-old planned to come back for his 62nd season in 2011.

So, no, he wasn’t retiring.

Not now, at least.

But because there was no more a fear of the unknown, even after ESPN Radio had started running a retrospective of his career, the reporters seemed more relieved than Scully by the time he finally came out to clarify everything.

On Saturday night, Scully had told a Los Angeles Times reporter that there would be a decision announced the next day about what he’d planned to do. He didn’t think it was proper to let out what the decision would be, nor did he think he should do it, but it would be proper for the team to disclose it.

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“I got halfway through the (Times) story and thought I’d retired,” Scully said with a laugh as his TV crew joked with him about it when they saw him Sunday morning, a group of close co-workers whom he’d already informed days ago, in some cases. Scully said he’d have thought it would be released in a one-sentence statement at the end of the team’s daily press notes Sunday, and that would be that.

But things aren’t that simple when you’re talking about the most talked-about person in Dodgers history.

Once things start to take a life of their own in the media, no matter who or what starts them, Scully was the only voice in all the noise calm enough to put it into perspective before more than a few dozen media members waiting to hear the official decision from him.

“First of all, I’m terribly embarrassed, this is the last thing that I wanted, though I see you ever day, and it’s nice to see you every day, I am very embarrassed,” he started in a rather quiet voice.

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“It was a long, thoughtful process with my wife, the family, and the end result was that we’ll do it again. So here I am, humbled by all this attention, believe me when I tell you that, and grateful I still feel as good as I do, thank God, and with continued health we’ll be here next year.

“And after that, there was a (headline) in the paper that said ‘Only Scully knows (future),’ but that’s incorrect, only God knows just how long I’ll continue to work. …

“The last thing I need is attention. I’m not kidding you when I tell you that I’m really overwhelmed. … I apologize if I put anyone through a ringer, wondering ‘Is he, isn’t he,’ It is the nature of the situation, but even so I’m very uncomfortable with it.”

Scully said his wife Sandy told him: “‘You love it, do it,’ and so I love it and I’m going to do it.”

With that will, for now, be the same schedule: All home games and those road games involving games west of Denver. All nine innings alone on TV, a simulcast with the radio broadcast for the first three innings.

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As fans were driving to Dodger Stadium to attend Sunday afternoon’s game, they could have listened to the entire Scully press conference on the team’s flagship station, KABC-AM (790), during the pre-game show by Ken Levine and Josh Suchon.

If fans were home and tuned into the pregame show on FSN, they’d have seen Patrick O’Neal open the show explaining how the city “held its collective breath” as word of the ambiguous announcement got out. Jeanne Zelasko did a one-on-one with Scully in the booth and asked him to repeat what he’d said to reporters earlier: “I will be back, God willing, and I hopefully I can continue to do the job.” Zelasko asked him to say it again. “I will be back … it’s starting to sound like General McArthur.”

They even ran a snippet of the interview later in the half-hour program in case anyone missed it the first time.

Scully, in true character, then took blame for how the message was delivered.

“I guess it was my fault, really,” he said. “I made a remark to a writer who said, ‘Well, perhaps 2010 will be your last year,’ and I said, ‘that probably makes sense.’”

Scully was referring to a conversation that led to a panicked column by the Times’ Bill Plaschke late last summer that led to speculation that Scully had all but decided to retire.

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“I shouldn’t have said that,” Scully continued with Zelasko. “And then from then on, eveyrone said, this might be his last year. And I felt embarassed that somehow I had caused all this ruckus, emotion, whatever. I wanted it to be very simple, yes I am coming back, thanks very well for asking. The press has always been extremely kind to me, but just the fuss and feathers made me very uncomfortable.”

As for whether he heard reports on the radio coming into the stadium Sunday that he was all but retired, Scully said that he hadn’t heard it, but that “I guess it was Mark Twain who said rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. I guess you could say that about the retirement, or whatever.”

Scully, a 1982 Hall of Fame inductee, has done 25 World Series, including all eight that the Dodgers have been involved in, going back to 1953. He’s also called 19 no-hitters (three perfect games) and 12 All-Star Games for the networks.

“I’m not looking for personal accomplishments in any way, shape or form,” he told the reporters again. “I just love it so much, it’s like a very good marriage, and when push came to shove, I just did not want to leave.

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“I’ve had a love affair with this game since I was 8 or 9 years old and I tried to play it (he was an outfielder at Fordham University) and I realized how hard it was to play on the level of the major leaguers. And I’ve been intrigued by their ability. That, and the love of the game still produces goosebumps. And that’s my barometer. The other night, the kid at second base (Colorado’s Eric Young Jr.) threw the ball behind his back. I mean, I had goosebumps like it was the first big-league game I’d ever seen. I’m thinking, ‘Holy mackerel,’ it’s still deep inside of me.

“I’m just blessed. I’m going to try to do the best I can. Please don’t ask me anything about after next year. I’m lucky to look for tomorrow morning.”

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

And in true Scully fashion, that was the last we’d hear about it — there was nothing mentioned of any of thisl during the Dodgers-Reds telecast.

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