The Tao of Vin Scully: Leading off with Jim Nantz

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We posed the question, and then got out of the way as quickly as possible:

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

Over the next several days, leading into Friday’s media column ranking the best L.A. sports media play-by-play men, we reveal some of the responses we’ve received:

== Jim Nantz (linked here), CBS lead play-by-play on the NFL, golf and college basketball:

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“When I see kids today hoping to break in, or are just getting in the door, everything seems to be about ‘being’ on camera, being funny, having an irreverent view of the world of sports. They don’t understand it runs a lot deeper. The real nuance is the ability to tell a story, have a command of the language and use of right. Mr. Scully represents to me a generation of what the art of sports broadcasting is all about.

“It’s how you conduct yourself and handle situations. It’s why you’re in this business in the first place. You’re not out there to out-funny everyone else. A certain part of that is fine, and everyone can’t be the same. The business isn’t a cookie cutter, and everyone has to be like Scully, or Summerall or McKay or Enberg or be from that generation. But to me the reward of the business is figuring out how best you suppliment the even with all the words in your tool kit. I don’t sense there’s the same appreciation for language skills as there is with someone like Vin. You listen to how much he has to say in such an economy of words. It’s magic. It’s fresh, and poetic. It’s lyrical.

“I think, in my 26 years at the network, it used to be that 90 percent of the people in the business wanted to take the approach of having a strong English background and an ability to paint a picture, while the other 10 percent were more into it as an ego trip or having an agenda to push. Now, I think it’s 90/10 the other way. At least it feels that way to me. Someone has the idea that being witty and sarcastic is the pinnacle of the profession, and it isn’t. The upper echelon for sports commentators belongs to the people on site, getting a chance to tell a story on the fly, live, reacting with commentary with thoughtful prose.

“I do feel there’s always a place for the Vin Scully approach and it will never go extinct. It’s just such a higher plane to reach that standard of excellence that then separates the good from the great ones.”

Photo: CBS

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