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Ten Things We’ve Learned From Vin Scully-Guest Article From Sean Lords

The 2013 season is almost over and we had yet to hear news on whether Vin Scully would be returning for the 2014 season or not. I was getting scared that this may be his last year. We wondered if Vin would retire if the Dodgers won the World Series this season. Tonight we got our answer, and it was the answer that every Dodger fan on the planet wanted to hear. The greatest sportscaster in history will be announcing his return for the 2014 season. The Dodgers will be holding a special press conference today to announce his return to the booth for his unprecedented 65th season. Vin Scully has been our guide throughout the last 64 Dodger Baseball seasons, and thank god he’s coming back to bless us all with another season of his beautiful voice.

So in honor of the greatest sports broadcaster in history, I present to you a special tribute to Vin Scully from Sean Lords. The guest article details the top ten things that he has learned from listening to Vin. We can all relate to this. I guess you could say these are the top ten things we’ve all learned from Vin. Sean has wonderful timing. Top ten lists are money. The Dodgers are cash money Vin Scully is golden, but top ten lists about Vin Scully are pure gold.

Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully at press conference to announce their sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Guggenheim baseball management team at Dodger Stadium-Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

So here it is. Vin is coming back next year, The Dodgers are 9.5 games up in first place, and their magic number to clinch the NL West division title is 27. This is indeed the season of the Dodgers. (The dream season) (Season of the blue).

It’s a Great Time of Year (If You Can Stand It): 10 Things I Learned from Vin Scully

Were it not for Vin Scully, I don’t know that I’d be a baseball fan. Or, I don’t know that I’d be an educated fan, one that could, on some level, describe the game with any level of authority. I’m still learning—perhaps that’s the reason I’m most drawn to those Dodger games that Vin Scully so eloquently calls from the press box named for him at Dodger Stadium.  Watching a game with Vin Scully (“It’s tiiiime for Dodger baseball!) contains a lifetime of baseball education.

1: Baseball is Poetry

Baseball is poetry and poetry is accessible to sports fans. Vin Scully has read In Flanders Fields and We Shall Keep the Faith. My favorite though is from an October 2012 game in which the LA Dodgers faced rival San Francisco Giants. In the bottom of the ninth, as the Dodgers found themselves losing and therefore out of a playoff spot, Scully was silent so fans at home could experience what it was like to be at the ballpark. Then, as the Dodgers fell to the Giants, Scully read Dylan ThomasDo Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

2: Anyone Can Learn Twitter

When Vin first started talking about Twitter, he called it the Twitter. Since, he’s live tweeted a game he was unable to be present at. He tweeted, Hi everybody and a pleasant Wednesday evening to you, wherever you may be. So much is lost in reading something and yet—so much is not.

3: A Creative Mind is the Best Mind

During the epic Dodger/Diamondback brawl, Vin Scully attempts to make family-friendly the potty mouths of players. “That’s fertilizer, that’s fertilizer,” he dubs over the f-bombs circling the infield and dugout. Blinkin’ and darn are heard often too, the smile in Vin’s voice shining through.

4: A Great Transition Doesn’t Have to Be Seamless

When I was in school, my teachers talked endlessly about the need for smooth transitions between paragraphs. I saw what they meant and did my best to emulate it until, well…Vin Scully. While weaving together baseball and history/commentary/culture, Vin is able to move the listener in a way that is unmistakable. He says, And someone said, Okay, raise the flag. And someone else said, What flag? And he said, I thought you brought it. No, I thought you— So they had opening day in Ebbets Field, waiting for the colors, and the colors weren’t there. That I think is what you would call a rather embarrassing day, but it just adds to the history of the Dodgers. With two down, James Loney at the plate….

5: Puns are Both Relevant and Funny

(Presented without explanation)

Aaron Hill is oh for three, struck out, grounded out twice.

Check swing, they look, no swing says Phil. One and two to Aaron Hill.

Two and two.

If you say getting outs in the big leagues is like pulling teeth, Shawn Tolleson is the guy. When he was at Baylor, he was studying pre-dentistry.

Chopper to third, Hanley backs up to get a hop, and then throws him out.

6: A Lesson in Modesty

On Major League Baseball opening day 2009, Vin Scully crooned—So for the Dodgers and Orlando Hudson, this was a perfect day. Everything they did was on the brilliant side, with Hudson hitting for the cycle, with Billingsley striking out 11 without a walk. For the Dodgers, hammering their rivals from the north on 15 hits, 11-1. Everybody in the starting lineup had at least one hit, and there were home runs in the game by Hudson, and Ethier hit two of ‘em….Smiles all around before a record-breaking crowd of fifty-seven thousand and—Manny’s number—ninety-nine.”

What he failed to mention, of course, is that he’d thrown out the first pitch. Perfect, indeed.

7: It’s Better to Be Seen

On the day of the final Dodger home game of 2011, Vin Scully recalled a time when he wasn’t broadcasting the game. From the Chicago dugout of the Cubs, Vin sat (in spring training tryout uniform number 76) after Tommy Lasorda insisted he experience a game from the dugout. With his hat pulled down to his eyes, Scully says that he didn’t want to be noticed. But Dodger first base coach John Vukovich knew he was there and, while throwing him a baseball, yelled Hey, Scully!  Vin caught the baseball, which read, If a fight breaks out, I want you. –Don Zimmer (Cubs manager)

8: On Metaphor

Vin Scully once recalled a story in which Hanley Ramirez (then with the Marlins) handed a struggling Cody Ross an empty can of Skoal with instructions to put it in his pocket for good luck. Baseball is largely about superstition, and Ross slipped the can in on the way to play the Braves. Ross came up to the plate and was hit by a pitch—denting the can.

Scully says, And Ross finally said it was nice of Hanley to give it to me, but it has served its purpose.0 and 1 the count. But you take that simple story, and you think about the word, “can.”

And I want the story to end here with us thinking about the word can in a profound and mystical sense, like I can do it—but the story doesn’t end here. Vin continues, In some of those hard-boiled mystery stories, they talk about going to prison–“going to the can.” Or you’ve heard people talk about going to the bathroom, “Excuse me, I’m going to the can.” Imagine how tough it is to learn this language. One other use of the word, “can.” I was thinking, in the navy, they talk about the destroyers and destroyer escorts—they’re “tin cans.” In fact, there’s a magnificent book about World War II, called “The Tin Can Sailors.” WOW!

And that’s good too.

9: Speaking the Language

After watching Clayton Kershaw in a conversation with Hiroki Kuroda, Vin Scully remarks that there is no language barrier between two pitchers, which is a beautiful sentiment, this idea that something can transcend language.

He remembers the first Japanese pitcher, Masanori Murakami who first played with the Giants and spoke no English. Manager Herman Franks taught the pitcher to say something when Herman approached– Take a hike!” Murakami would say.

10: Imperfect People

One of the Vin Scully anecdotes I find most touching is the story he tells about Dennis Martinez, a Nicaraguan pitcher with an alcohol problem.

When he pitched a no-hitter against the Dodgers (Vin Scully stops to call the game that’s happening in front of him) he was reacted profoundly to the win. Vin describes it– I think the moment I will treasure — there are so many ball players who are pretty blasé, some will show some emotion after a big win — but for Dennis Martinez, it was incredible. Considering his battles with alcohol and everything else, when he pitched that perfect game, he sat in the visiting dugout at Dodger Stadium and cried his heart out. It was quite a sight.

Vin’s ability to be moved by the game and by the players, Dodgers or not, is remarkable.

*

Listening to America’s favorite redhead call a game is like having a conversation with an old friend. He invites participation in the game and in the process of learning about baseball, I find myself so moved. And if my word isn’t enough, hear baseball great Sandy Koufax:

It may sound corny, but, I enjoyed listening to Vin (Scully) call a game almost more than playing in them. He’s been a special broadcaster for a lot of years and he’s been wonderful to listen too for a lot of years. He definitely is the All Century broadcaster as far as I’m concerned.

About the Author: Sean Lords spent three insightful years teaching English in Seoul, South Korea.  Since returning to the US, he’s offered insight to others looking for tefl certification in Los Angeles. He’s currently working toward his Master of Education, raising an amazing family, a doing a little sports writing on the side.

Thank you Sean! You’ve really captured the essence of Vin Scully through pen. I can’t think of anything more perfect than the return of Vin Scully, and a Dodger World Series Championship in the same season. You can follow Sean on twitter here.

Topics: Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully

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