I’ve always felt baseball is best experienced on the radio. Many of my best baseball memories involve the classic Atlanta Braves broadcasting duo of Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren and their unbelievable ability to bring the game to life with their unique delivery. And as much as I enjoy seeing a game on TV, I still prefer listening to games on the radio.
As a Braves fan who often times can’t catch my team on television, I subscribe to the fantastic MLB.TV, which allows subscribers to listen to home or away broadcasts. Once during each of the Braves series, I will try to listen to the opposing team’s broadcast and see how it stacks up to the “Skip and Pete Standard.”
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Announcer(s) – Vin Scully – What can be said about the legendary Scully that hasn’t been said already. The 84 year old has been announcing Dodger games since 1950…yeah; they were still in Brooklyn at the time. For a bit of perspective, in 1950 the Atlanta Braves still played in Boston and featured a three man rotation, highlighted by Warren Spahn. Scully has been honored by various broadcast hall of games and has received just about every award a broadcaster can. Sadly enough, I’ve never heard Scully call a game and it’s something I’ve really been looking forward to.
The Presentation – Scully works alone in the broadcast booth, which is very rare in the age of the two or three man booth. He has that legendary, easily recognizable voice, which resonates with old school gamers like me, as he was the voice on the old MLB games made by 989 studios. Scully seamlessly transitions between giving information and working the play by play, and since he works alone, you never get any interruptions or awkward pauses.
Scully’s delivery is truly amazing. He provides enough statistics and insight into the why to satisfy your most ardent baseball fan, while painting a picture that would be accessible to your casual fan as well. I found myself laughing out loud several times in a way I haven’t since hearing the late Skip Caray calling games, as Scully gave such descriptions as call the overshift defense as “that triangle defense,” or when chronicling the difficulties of managing by saying “it’s not all beer and skittles for Don Mattingly.” As a matter of fact, I tried keeping notes on all of the great things Scully said, but after an inning and a half, they were simply becoming too numerous to write.
Good Guys Presentation – Scully is certainly a homer, but is never overbearing or obnoxious. His fantastic memory and sense of history allows him to talk about his team in a rich context which almost makes this Braves fan root for the Dodgers. When he compares a player to a Dodger great or mentions that an umpire was the same on who worked in the “legendary 1988 world series,” you truly appreciate what it means having an announcer who has been with your organization for so long and has experienced the ups and downs of a fan base right along with you. In the age of the “college educated broadcaster,” it’s great to hear someone who announces as if they’re truly a part of the team.
Bad Guys Presentation – I think what most impressed me about Scully was his fairness and depth of knowledge concerning the visiting team. Scully is either does better homework than anyone in the game or he has one of the best research teams around, as he gives stories and information which goes above and beyond the standard press guide fare. I learned about such things as why Mike Minor chose sociology as a major at Vanderbilt and how Martin Prado’s mother used picking his nose to make him into a better baseball player. I’m an ardent Braves fan, spending copious amounts of hours each day reading up on my team, and yet I learned something new and insightful every inning.
Overall Grade – A+ – For years, I read and heard people rave about listening to a Vin Scully broadcast. Somehow, I had become skeptical that it couldn’t live up to the hype. Yet, this is an instance where the experience even exceeds the hype. Listening to a Dodger game called by Vin Scully is about as good as it gets. If you’ve never heard him, you owe it to yourself to do so and if you ever doubt how great baseball is on the radio, then I’m convinced you’ve never given Vin Scully a shot.