Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Scully, Angell, All Too Briefly

The 2014 postseason marches on, and we're now shy one voice. I pinch myself every time I get to hear Vin Scully call a Dodgers game; through the miracle of MLB GameDay I've been able to listen to him throughout the summer. His call at the bottom of the ninth in yesterday's Dodgers' loss to the Cardinals—Saint Louis advanced and will play the San Fransisco Giants in the Championship Series—reminded me of just how superb he is. And how rare. Sadly, a transcript doesn't exist of his statesman-like narration as his team went down, but we didn't need one, really: we've heard this call for decades. His voice circles us now. He described the confetti falling at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals collectively leaping about, that this is "a perfect moment in Saint Louis Cardinals history." Then he was off to a commercial break. When he returned, he ran down the game's numbers, and then signed off: "This is Vin Scully saying, Good evening from St. Louis." He'll be back next year.

He is 86 years old. Since Since Harry S. Truman was President, Scully has been describing the Dodgers and the atmosphere that their games create, home and away (mostly home now; yesterday's broadcast on the road was rare). He proves—forget "suggests"—that there is no inherent need for two, let alone three, talking heads in the booth. His calls are elegant, economical, witty, and precise. What I admired most about his ninth inning call yesterday was that there was nary a trace of homerism from this lifetime Dodgers announcer. He is a respectful fan of the game first, of his team second.

Meanwhile, the great Roger Angell, at 94, is again blogging his was through this postseason. His first New Yorker blog post went live on October 5, 2008 (it was about the actor Tommy Lee Jones); his first baseball blog post, on then-Red Sox manager Terry Francona, went live a week later. He hasn't written a full magazine recap of the World Series since 2009. At his age, he's decided that it's best now to weigh in virtually, when the mood strikes him. I deeply miss his Spring Training, mid-season, and postseason essays that ran in The New Yorker for decades, but I'm realistic about The Old Man. I await his miniature online observations, looking forward to how he'll blend his acumen, grace, and wit, because he will, invariably.

With Scully and Angell, two mythic voices in different media, one never hears sentimentality, over-hype, or unearned, shopworn exclamations such as "Un-be-lievable!" or "Epic Showdown." Listen and read while you can. Here's hoping that their influence on current broadcasters and writers is even more pronounced than I believe it is.

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