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?