Skullyisms runnith wild in N.L. playoffs

By Jeff Kirik

It happens every year. The National League Championship Series broadcast begins, and suddenly I’m struck by that same old feeling: “Shouldn’t I be smoking ye custom-made pipe and dipping into yonder caviar trough?”

That thought hits me every time I hear Vin Scully—the Official Mouth of Major League Baseball—announcing a ballgame. And sure enough, it happened again Wednesday night.

The Hall-of-Fame broadcaster opened the Cubs-Giants telecast by reciting the sappy verses of his patented, Wrigley Field-queen analogy. “She’s covered in a dark coat,” he said, “and she wears a pearly crown (the lights, of course).” Vin only uses that one every time he covers a Cub game.

Listen, Vin, you’re overdoing it just a little. It’s become apparent that you’ve forgotten which sport you’re covering.

Baseball is America’s national past-time—a sport where the fans drink beer, wear dirty muscle shirts and cuss. In fact, football is about the only sport whose following has a bluer collar.

So why does baseball’s poet laureate insist on making a Shakespearean experience out of every passed ball and every flyout to shallow center? I don’t think even Bo knows.

There is no doubt Vin Scully is an expert broadcaster. He has numerous statistics and trivia ready for any situation that might arise during a game. And he speaks clearly and eloquently.

But why baseball? He seems more qualified to announce an equestrian event or a dog show. Then he could say, “Look at the flowing mahogany mane on that spaniel princess as she prances into our hearts,” rather than, “Chicago’s own Prince Valiant—Ryne Sandberg—comes through in the clutch.”

Vin should take a look at the companies that advertise during the games. He’d find that Chevy truck and Bud Lite commercials heavily outweigh the Perrier and Ralph Lauren ads.

I’m not saying an announcer has to be illiterate or Harry Caray to broadcast a baseball game. But baseball broadcasts shouldn’t be one man’s soliloquy of upper class mush.

Those of you who are dedicated baseball fans will know what I mean when I talk about a Scullyism. It’s one of those correlations he draws between two unrelated and quite uninteresting facts. Here’s one he used Wednesday night: “Cubs Manager Don Zimmer said young Greg Maddux reminds him of Don Drysdale because they’re both so aggressive. And ya know what’s interesting about that? When Don Zimmer came to play with the Cubs, he hit his first home run off none other than Don Drysdale.” What a coincidence.

Scully is so over-qualified for the job that when he makes a grammatically incorrect statement, he has to attribute it to someone else. Did anyone hear this one Wednesday: “And as Pearl Bailey would say, ‘That ain’t no bad crowd to be hanging around with.'” Please, Vin, don’t lower yourself.

I really don’t have a solution to my gripe, but I’ve got some ideas. First, NBC could hire someone who knows how to relate to baseball fans—someone like Bob Uecker. Or the company could keep Scully and make him work with someone who could balance the broadcast—maybe Harry Caray.

Imagine the beauty of it.

Vin: “You know, Harry, this Wrigley Field is one grand and glowing specimen of a ballpark.”

Harry: “Yeah, Lynn, and I wonder how many cups of beer have been drank here since its conception.”

Vin: “Isn’t it ironic, Harry, that Kevin Mitchell is playing left field here tonight. The same left field that Jerry Martin used to play for the Cubs. And do you know who Jerry Martin’s idol was? None other than Willy Mays, who like Mitchell, played in the outfield for the Giants at one time. Amazing, isn’t it?”

Harry: “Yeah, and did you know Mitchell’s name spelled backward is Llehctim.”

Now that’s a baseball broadcast.