Friday, April 11, 2008

Deep In The Heart Of Dodger Country: Oh Doctor!

By Joe Chandler

Author’s Note: If this entry seems a little scattered or distracted it’s because the Stanley Cup playoffs started Wednesday night. I don’t care that you don’t care, because I care, more than you’ll ever understand. If you happen to be curious about why I love the game, watch Alexander Ovechkin play over the coming weeks. Crosby may be better, but Ovechkin will always be more entertaining. Just know that hockey is my true love and the fact that I can’t write about the Gulls anymore breaks my heart.*

This weekend I’ll be in attendance for one of the Padres three games at Dodger Stadium. I won’t be attending all three because a) I’m too old for three games in a row (we used to do this, it was called Padres weekend, I was 24), b) Dodger stadium sucks and c) I can watch the games with Vin Scully instead of Dodgers fans.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore Jerry Coleman. When I was a kid I would eagerly await a great defensive play so I could see that star dangling out of the press box. I’ve enjoyed his malapropisms and mispronunciations to no end. But Vin Scully is the reason I live in Los Angeles. Jerry makes you feel like you’re watching the game with your Grandpa (I suspect that if you heard Jerry calling a game when he was 30 you’d get the same feeling). Vin turns the game into a novel. If you’ve never read his call of the final inning of a Sandy Koufax perfect game please read it here:

http://www.salon.com/people/feature/1999/10/12/scully_koufax/

If you’re not feeling like reading the whole thing, I’ll take you through some of the greater moments.

Vin setting the scene.
“Koufax lifted his cap, ran his fingers through his black hair, then pulled the cap back down, fussing at the bill. Krug must feel it too as he backs out, heaves a sigh, took off his helmet, put it back on and steps back up to the plate.”

A moment of reverence for the gravity of the situation.
“There's 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies.”

After a called ball.
A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts.”

A moment of reflection, making us feel that the game is so much bigger than us.
“Koufax with a new ball, takes a hitch at his belt and walks behind the mound. I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world.”

And often what he doesn’t say is what makes him a genius.
“It is 9:46 p.m. Two and 2 to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away. Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch. Swung on and missed, a perfect game!”

At this point Vin Scully did not speak for 38 seconds. All the home listener could hear was the cheering of the crowd. Every announcer on the face of this planet would say something here. Bob Costas would wax poetic, Al Michaels would scream about miracles and John Madden would say “bam, he got hit by a freight train, bam,” but Vin Scully let the crowd tell the story. Vin chose silence over words which is something that I wish happened more often. In reality this whole piece is just a long set up to a mediocre joke, I thought it would be fun to imagine what Jerry Coleman would’ve said if he’d called Koufax’s perfect game. This will probably not become a regular feature:

Jerry setting the scene:
”Hey Gang, hope you didn’t go anywhere because Sandy Koufax is pitching a perfect game, can you believe that?”

A moment of reverence for the gravity of the situation:
“There are 29,000 here and most of them are still here, man oh man. This is exciting.”

After a called ball.
“Man oh man, gang”

A moment of reflection to make us feel the game is bigger than us.
“You know when I was playing for the Yankees a guy pitched a perfect game.”

And often what Jerry does say is what makes him a genius.
“He swings and misses, a perfect game! Oh Doctor! You can hang a star on that baby!”

That being said, I’d love to hear Jerry Coleman call a perfect game. Important sports moments are made better by sharing them with a close friend or grandpa. However, Jerry will never get that opportunity because he is only calling the 4th through 7th innings these days. Nothing about the Padres makes me more miserable as a fan than hearing Ted Leitner saying “my Padres” in his squeaky voice. I don’t want to imagine what it would sound like if Leitner were calling a perfect game and if he were actually doing it, I think I’d turn the radio off.**

When Vin finally started speaking again, this is what he said:

“On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California. And a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games. He has done it four straight years, and now he caps it: On his fourth no-hitter he made it a perfect game. And Sandy Koufax, whose name will always remind you of strikeouts, did it with a flurry. He struck out the last six consecutive batters. So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record books, that "K" stands out even more than the O-U-F-A-X.”

Can you blame me for living in LA?

*The use of the word “anymore” implies that I’ve written about the Gulls in the past. I have not.

**Ted Leitner hates hockey. Some people think this creates my bias against him. Fuck those people.

2 comments:

Liz said...

Sucks that you can only watch the hockey playoffs if you get Canadian TV. Go Bruins!

Joe said...

I ponied up for NHL Center Ice Online. Getting about half the games on that. Fortunately I have Vs.