The Tao of Vin Scully XII: Jeff Lasky

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

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== Jeff Lasky (linked here), the voice of the Single-A Lancaster Jethawks since 2006, as well as Montana State basketball and football:

“I’ve had some of my work critiqued by two Triple-A broadcasters in the last few weeks, and both pointed out immediately that they could hear the influence of Vin Scully in my work. It would be impossible to grow up listening to him and not be influenced. In my mind Vin is the best sports broadcaster I’ve ever heard and he excels in everything.

“His delivery is detailed and delivered eloquently but with a simplicity that makes it easy to listen to. You know exactly what is happening with the play. It’s amazing how many broadcasters fail to actually detail the play — Where is the ball? Does the fielder have a chance of making a play? Are we talking a routine play or something unusual? That fits for other sports, too. How many times are you listening to a game and a guy is taking a shot or throwing a pass and you didn’t even know the ball was in the front court or that they’d come to the line of scrimmage? It drives me nuts — and drives whoever I’m listening with nuts since I complain about it endlessly.

“So in terms of the pure basics of play-by-play, Vin Scully is impecable.

“What I am always amazed by and try to emulate in my own way is how he can engage the listener with his own personality without making the broadcast about him. It’s really hard to add personality and humor to a game without taking attention away from the game itself, but he has an amazing ability to do it. Part of that comes from his incredible knowledge, which is a combination of his years of experience and observation as well as the amount of work he does to prepare for each game. But his pacing and self effacing manner also fit baseball perfectly so that he can simply be part of the flow of the game and the broadcast.

“Another thing that I love about Vin in particular is that he doesn’t ‘dumb down’ the broadcast. He uses the English language beautifully. Our era seems to have lost some respect for education, especially language. Many broadcasters simply issue a steady stream of cliches — and ones that aren’t even appropriate at that. Many broadcasters also try to get too cute with pop culture references. I don’t mind it when it’s done really well — heck, on a recent broadcast I described a complaining coach as being ‘petulant like Veruca Salt in ‘Willy Wonka’ – but many come off too contrived and forced (perhaps the example above, although it wasn’t pre-conceived). Vin can quote Shakespeare or Sondheim, but make it fit naturally.

“What I’m still trying to learn from Vin is to make my fundamentals as excellent as possible while maximizing my ability to make a broadcast as enjoyable as possible. The challenge is trying to do that without just doing an impression of Vin Scully. Vin is so good at what he does that it has become a style immediately connected with him, which is why I will probably always have people tell me that I ‘sound like Vin.’

“It’s an incredible compliment and an amazingly daunting challenge all at the same time.”

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