May 16, 2005
The Man Who Is L.A. Baseball
Dodger fans would be forgiven if they said, "What took so long for you to notice?" Vin Scully received another honor of sorts on Friday with the news that he had been named as the best announcer in the history of baseball in a new book by Curt Smith entitled Voices of Summer. At 77, Scully is still in love with the game, and for that we should be thankful, because without him, the Dodger announcers seem like, well, a bunch of old men.
You know you're in trouble when Charley Steiner is the baby of the rest of the crew at age 55. With the pairing of Steiner and Rick Monday, the game takes on a monotone than is surpassed only by the blather that one must endure when Monday teams up with Al Downing. After an inning's worth of these fellows, I find myself waiting with great anticipation for the next Scully-voiced Farmer John ad.
When Ross Porter was not rehired after last season, I thought that the announcing group was going to get younger, that the new hire was going to be Scully's apprentice, just as Scully himself had apprenticed alongside fellow Hall of Famer Red Barber back in the Brooklyn days. Instead, the radio team became even less vibrant with the additions of Downing and Steiner, and I often find myself treated to an even bigger dose of Monday, who, if given ample time, might put together a list of malapropisms to rival the Padres' Jerry Coleman.
Until a few days ago, my favorite Mondayism revolved around his inability to pronounce the first name of the San Francisco Giants' Moises Alou. Rather than pronouncing it "Moy-sess" or "Moy-ee-sess," Monday has dubbed the veteran outfielder "Moy-zee." Rhymes with Boise. Who knew that last S is silent? Then came Friday night, when I heard Monday say "weaks and strengthnesses" in referring to one of the Atlanta Braves. Now, it is possible that I imagined it. It was a Friday, I had just gotten off a slow-moving freeway, and Steiner and Monday already had succeeded in lulling me into a stupor when Rick uttered this, but then again... Well, if anybody who was listening to Friday night's radio broadcast can confirm for me that I heard what I think I heard, I would appreciate it.
In the meantime, congratulations to Vin Scully, the announcer we want behind the mike when it's a squeaker or when it's a blowout, and the man who is now and forever will be L.A. baseball.
Posted by Andrew Torres at 8:40 AM
Yeah, it's strange that the Dodgers (at least to my recollection) never submitted a reason to the public for Ross Porter's "nonrenewal" last year, but one would have to assume that a big reason would have been his age. Given the organization's gradual reduction of time allowed for Nancy Bea Hefley to strut her stuff behind the Roland organ in favor of blaring rock music to keep that prized younger demographic pumped up, I think you're right to have imagined that maybe they would go younger in the broadcast booth too. Ross Porter may have been a bit of a stat head, and I don't think I would ever describe him as dynamic, but he was genuinely passionate about baseball, the Dodgers, he seemed very personable, and he had a voice that lent itself well to early summer evenings on the radio. And though I don't have much objection to Steiner on his own, I'd still take Porter over any combination of Steiner, Monday, Downing and Lyons that currently haunt the late innings on 980 KFWB.
As for Vin, well, the misidentifications of players and the odd malapropism here and there are undeniably more frequent these days. But the day he leaves the air may very well be the day I abandon Dodger baseball on the radio for good. Vin never forgets the strengths of the medium and goes way beyond simple description to paint a picture of the entire setting-- game, ballpark, player personalities. And he does it all solo. That's the thing that was rather unique about Dodger broadcasts until last year-- they were among the only ones left who hadn't gone to the play-by-play/color man combination. If it was Monday solo, watch out, because entire at-bats might go by before Rick could be shaken out of whatever reverie he drifted off into and set back on the track of calling the game. But Ross flourished by himself, and Vin Scully remains perhaps the only solo announcer left whom I would even consider calling an artist. Thanks for reminding everyone of what they're missing by not listening to the first three innings of Dodger baseball on the radio, because we're undoubtedly near the end of Vin's amazing run, and we're gonna be a whole lot poorer without him.
And congratulations on the new blog! You're bookmarked!
Posted by: Dennis Cozzalio on May 21, 2005 11:10 PM
I've only heard a little of Charley Steiner. He's good. He has a distintive voice and 55 ain't all THAT old.... Of course, anyone compared to Vin Scully just pales. I hope he lives to be 120.
Posted by: Tom on June 5, 2005 5:39 AM
As a transplanted Dodger fan who is now living in NY, I must say i have experiance listening to Stiener. He was the broadcaster for the Yankees for the last 3 years. He paired up with John Sterling. Sterling was ok, he has some of his signature calls, "it is high, it is far, it is gone" , "Burn Baby Burn, Bernie goes BOOM" , "The GIAMBINO" , and of course "THE YANKEES WIN THHHHHEEEE YANKEES WIN". Im not going to say he is great but he was listenable. But when Stiener came on... oh boy, I would flip to Gary Cohen and the Mets.
When i heard that he wasnt coming back to the Yankees i was thrilled, as this way when i want to listen to a game i wont have to suffer through his broadcasting. BUT when i heard that he was going to my beloved Dodgers, i had a freak attack.
I have mlb.tv and i stay up late every night watching the Dodgers play on the West coast. I LOVE it, you have good 'ol Vinny calling the games. It makes the tired mornings easier knowing you listening to a good game.
But when the Dodgers travel east of the Mississippi and Mr. Scully doesnt travel with them. ITS pure torture to stay up late listening to Stiener call the games.
I wish Mr. Scully many many many more healthy years and that he is able to keep up his schedule.
Posted by: Aaron on June 28, 2005 4:55 PM
I've always considered Vinny to be the best ever sports announcer. Last night as I was watching the Colorado v LA Dodgers game I heard Vinny misspronounce a ballplayer's name.
The ballplayer's name is Quintanilla which he pronounced (Coo-in-tanila) when it should be (keen-tah-nee-ya). I always thought Vinny did plenty of research on ballplayer's names, especially the latino players. Hope he gets it straight for tonight's game.
Posted by: Manny Fregoso on August 25, 2005 12:48 AM
Charlie Stiener reminds me a Rush Limbaugh. Full of hot air.
Posted by: Mark on October 7, 2005 1:55 AM