Vin Scully says he and his wife Sandy and his daughters once made a three-week trip to Australia some 20 years ago.
“We went parasailing, where they take you out in a speed boat, get you up in the air, drop you in a river and then the boat comes back and scoops you up,” Scully was explaining on the phone from his hotel in Sydney, Australia on Friday morning, the day before the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks start the season with a two-game series at the famed Sydney Cricket Ground.
“I was the first to try it, then Sandy, then the kids. And when it was over, I said to the boat captain: ‘You don’t waste any time getting us up out of the water.’ He said, ‘That’s because of all the fresh-water crocodiles.’ It was nice of him to just throw that in there.”
No crocs, kangaroos or koalas have been injured in the making of this Dodgers’ trip, Scully reports, as a photo of him with one of the Australian natives has circulated over Twitter during an outdoor meet-and-greet Wednesday night.
Whatever reservations some players may have had about making this trip should be gone soon, he thinks.
“Tomorrow, we’ll be playing Arizona, and that will all be forgotten,” he said. “It’ll be the first game of the season, against a rival team in the division, after what happened last year, they’ll no longer be tourists and they’ll go to work.
“They’re really done a remarkable job with the park. You’d swear they’d been playing baseball there for a very long time. It looks very much like a major-league park, a double-deck stadium with the exception of an area down the first-base line that looks like something out of Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby. It’s a beautiful park to be in and it should be fun. And the people we’ve met so far have been very charming. They couldn’t be nicer.”
“The papers are bursting with news about cricket and rugby and football — whatever they call it here — and the coverage of baseball is not extensive at all,” said Scully, who asked for an update on the injury he saw on TV to Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman, hit above his left eye with a line drive during an exhibition game Wednesday night.
“One of the papers here — one of those headline-seeking papers — had some sarcastic reference to the Dodgers’ salaries compared to the money paid to cricket players, naturally way out of whack,” said Scully. “Another line from the story was about how the players had ‘strode through the airport with designer suits and sunglasses firmly on,’ which was nothing further from the truth, but they were trying to make a point.”
The 86-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster reports he and his wife have adjusted well to the 18-hour time change even if he didn’t sleep well and was up walking much of the time during the 14-hour flight coming to Sydney from Phoenix on Monday. He said the issue will come “from what we’ve heard, and from what I remember, when we go back and land Sunday afternoon, while your circadian clock is still spinning. Luckily, we’ll have three days to adjust before the first exhibition games back with the Angels.”
By then, perhaps more dish and cable systems will have picked up the Dodgers’ new SportsNet L.A. channel, which for now is the only source in Southern California to see the Dodgers’ first two games in Australia. The three games games against the Angels on March 27, 28 and 29 can be viewed on their team’s Fox Sports West feed, and the resumption of the Dodgers’ regular season on Sunday, March 30, in San Diego will be on ESPN.
“I guess it will feel strange to know we’re not going to be seen by the big audience we always have,” he said. “But the first game will be at 1 in the morning in Los Angeles.”
For those without Time Warner Cable, that’ll be via KLAC-AM (570).
== Also: An MLB.com clip on an Aussie fan doing his best Scully imitation.