Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"How Can Somebody Not LIke Vin Scully?"

And if they can, what chance have I got?

(Which, of course, is really the point.)

Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, 85, the play-by-play announcer for first, the Brooklyn Dodgers and then, the Los Angeles Dodgers since 1950, is revered because of the unique set of talents he brings to calling the game – a companionable voice, an uncluttered reportage, he’s unbiased (uncharacteristic in a home team announcer), eminently knowledgeable, a bottomless fount of fascinating anecdotes, he’s an uncanny lip-reader, allowing him to eavesdrop on our behalf on those heated disputes with the umpires, and he possesses an innate humility, allowing him to let the game be the star, and not the announcer.  In 1955, for example, when the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series for the first time ever, Scully captured that milestone moment by announcing, simply yet comprehensively,

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Dodgers are the champions of the world!”

I erroneously left “poetic” off the list, which, for me, is the most formidable tool in his announcorial arsenal.  When a camera caught a young boy sitting in the stands wearing an oversized baseball cap, Scully spontaneously described him of as a kid “waiting for his dreams to grow into his hat.”

Since I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I have been fortunate to experience two legendary sports announcers.  One was Scully, who’s not a “was”, because he’s still doing it at 85, with no discernable letdown.  The other was the Lakers announcer Chick Hearn, whose phrase-coining, carnival-barker patter, demonstrated most dazzlingly on the radio, brought his “word’s eye view” to the hyperstimulated ears of millions of listeners.  This post could just as easily be about him.  But it isn’t, because I picked the other guy instead.  And here’s why.

Vin Scully has been showered with honors, canonized by the fans and won the worshipful admiration of all of his colleagues.  Everyone loves Vin Scully. 

Or so I thought.

Then, in a conversation with a guy from Chicago, in the context of I no longer remember what, I heaped praise on Scully’s incomparable abilities, only to be scalded by four words I thought I would never hear in my life:

“I hate Vin Scully!”

The guy said he was boring. 

At that head-spinning moment, it came to me – though in retrospect, it is not much of an insight – that even someone who is universally adored, is still not adored by everybody (which makes me think I have misused the word “universally.”)  At least one guy hates Vin Scully.  And, imaginably – not to me, but in the context of mathematical probability – there are others.

It is simply the way it is.  Some people have more fans than others.  Nobody has no fans.  (I generally steer clear of “Hitler” territory, but, even today, the guy probably has a few admirers.  Hopefully not too many, because the recent lull in anti-Semitism has been really enjoyable.)

But, returning to the point, nobody, not even the iconic Mr. Vin Scully, pleases everybody.  A guy from Chicago greatly prefers (the late Cubs and White Sox announcer) Jack Brickhouse.  Though I could not possibly tell you why.  (Except that he’s from Chicago.  And what kind of reason is that!)

This is the reasonable paragraph, followed immediately by my insanity.  If the greatest practitioner in his field has people who don’t like him, it is realistically unimaginable that everyone will unilaterally approve of the efforts that, in their own arena, do not rise anywhere close to Scullian standards, such as, pulling an example randomly out of the air, what I do.

The bizarre thing is, I still want them to.  And I get conspicuously snappish when they don’t.

I mean, fine.  They disparage the greatest baseball announcer ever.  But me?

What is wrong with those people?


Anonymous said...

This guy stinks and people are afraid to say that. He NEVER shuts up and he buries you with stupid unimportant nonsense. The game is secondary.

Just a bit outside said...

You pose the question "how can anyone hate Vin Scully?". I can quite honestly say that I do. While it is true that I don't know the man personally, I have watched many of the games he calls. From that experience, my impression is that he's possibly one of the most overrated announcers ever.

How is he overrated? Quite simply, he's put up on a pedestal of legend because someone has been fool enough to employ him at the job for over half a century. That longevity is nothing to sneeze at, of course. There are also plenty of examples of people who are beloved by brain-dead morons who see that someone has done something for a long time so they must be good and I should like them. However, if we're to talk about what Vin Scully really does, we should make an entirely different conclusion. That conclusion is that Vin Scully is the worst baseball announcer on air currently.

What I see when I "watch" Vin Scully is a man who must not realize that there is something called television. It's this big electronic device that magically, and mysteriously transmits images of the baseball game out to viewers. Viewers can actually SEE the game he's announcing. Vin gets so wrapped up with a play-by-play thinking that viewers need to be told that there's a ground ball. Yeah Vin, we can see that. Perhaps if you knew anything about baseball for real, you could add some insight and tell us what the batter did wrong or right, or what the pitcher did wrong or right. That's what a GOOD announcer should do. They should add insight that viewers don't know because they haven't played the game. Unfortunately, just because Vin has announced games since pre-Civil War times, he has never played the game. He announces exactly like a radio announcer. They need to call play by play because their audiences CAN'T see the game.

You may be thinking that there's nothing else to hate about Scully. Actually, his voice is monotonous. He drones on and on. It seems like the man never takes a breath. Even when there aren't any plays to call, he breaks into a completely irrelevant story about how one of the players blew his nose on his coat sleeves when he was 4 years old. Really Vin? Why not just tell us about how good your BM was last night? His commentary is utterly useless on every single imaginable level.

I remember how much I absolutely hated Harry Carey with the Cubs. He was another national treasure, and I could not understand why people loved and revered him so. He spit audibly every time there was the number "two" (or in fact every time there was a "t" in a word). His voice was like metal grating against metal, with the occasional flood of phlegm thrown in so he could spit out the "t". His commentary was utterly useless, just like Scully's, but Scully's stories are like a senile old grandfather who everyone just tunes out so they can be nice to him and let him talk.

I can even go so far as to wager that when he does retire, there will not be any hole left. Replacing him will be an easy task. In fact, they've already got replacements lined up. They announce all the Dodgers' away games because Scully doesn't travel. I hope that he does retire soon.

Will Berriman said...

I dont hate Vin Scully, but I feel like he is a little overrated as in my opinion he has become boring over the last couple years. His soft way of speaking which adds to the scence that hes just a nice guy, is most likely the reason he seems boring, as almost all the other Mlb casters have deep interruptive yet hype provoking voices and ways of speaking.