Nov. 17, 2016
Vin Scully & The Voice in Our Heads
I have disliked the Dodgers since they moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. Well, I wasn’t born for another 23 years, but that is besides the point. As a native Arizonan, I naturally dislike all things L.A. because I’m no sell out (except for Disneyland, which is in Anaheim, so it’s fine) I dislike the Lakers, Clippers, Rams, (Raiders when they live there and soon to be the Chargers), Kings, UCLA, USC and any other team they can come up with over there. It’s strange to think that I could hate someone simply because of their geographic location, but I do. Let me be clear though, I don’t actually hate the players as people. I know that they are simply doing their jobs. Why anyone would choose those teams when they had a choice, I don’t really understand.
Yet, here I am about to dedicate an entire blog to someone that is more associated with the Dodgers than just about anyone else. And it's not one of those “Hater-ade” articles either. “But, Paul,” you ask, “How can you spend time thinking or writing about some Dodger?” Great question. I think I’ll answer your question with a question. “What if I told you this ‘Dodger’ wasn’t actually a ‘Dodger’?” Mind blown, yet?
Of course I am talking about recent Medal of Freedom honoree, Vin Scully. Vin Scully wasn’t a “Dodger”, but he was the voice of the Dodgers for many years. He has been calling Dodger games since they were the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950’s. When the team moved out west, he followed along. This New Jersey born announcer followed his dream.
You see, he was 8 years old when heard his first baseball game. Growing up in New York, he was actually a Giants fan. (They also used to play in New York before heading west to San Francisco) He listened to games on the radio and was able to attend quite a few as a kid. When he went to college at Fordham University, he continued the next step in his dream and began doing announcing for the college teams sports in baseball, football, basketball, etc. He loved it. He helped establish the college’s first FM radio station (WFUV, where there is now a Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award given out each year) I could go on and on about his career in broadcasting, but I’ll let you do your own Wikipedia search. Vin Scully is commonly regarded as the greatest sports broadcaster of all time. He had the longevity and impact that is so rare in any field.
One of my dream jobs is to be a sports broadcaster because I view the broadcaster as an intermediary between the game and the fans. For radio, the broadcaster is the eyes for the fans listening. A good broadcaster is similar to an artist. Just like the way an artist can transport you to another time or place, make you think and dream, or feel emotions ranging from sadness to anger to jubilation, a broadcaster can do the same thing with words. Vin Scully was one of the best at that.
I’ve oftentimes wondered what it would be like if I had a commentator for my life what it would be like. Then I realized that I am my own broadcaster. Just like all of us, we have commentators in our heads. We ponder the next moves, analyze what just happened and sometimes even play trivia with ourselves when things are slow. How do we call our games of life?
Are you a “Homer”? Not Simpson or blind poet, but someone who roots so much for the home team that you ignore any faults. A “homer” broadcaster often plays the home team as a victim when something doesn’t go their way and gives over the top praise for anything remotely positive or even neutral. The only people that like homers are other homers. For people who root for the team, homers are viewed as anything from annoying to obnoxious. For everyone else, they are pretty much despised.
Are you a “Hater”? This one is pretty obvious in meaning. This is where my broadcast skills might fit if I was solely judged on my own internal play-by-play analysis and commentary. Haters are the exact opposite of Homers. The home team deserves everything they get (especially if it's bad) and anything good is luck or an oversight by the opposing team. Haters give no credit to the home team. I’ve played this game before. This is how I spend my moments of depression for sure. If I heard a broadcaster call a game like this, I’d turn the game off, but I let myself get away with analysis like...
“Oh you screwed that one up, didn’t you? Just like normal, Paul messes everything up. This Paul guy just can’t handle the pressure. Like a house of cards. The only reason your business is doing well is because of your wife. Oh, and that account you got was obviously an oversight by the client.”
No one likes Haters except Haters because they feel like they “call it like it is.” Homers really hate Haters and the in between people are generally annoyed and disturbed. There is something alluring to the Hater though. It's like some people enjoy hearing it so they themselves can be mad. You’ll often find Haters and Homers in the same room or chat room or whatever they call it on social media these days.
To have an internal broadcaster like Vin Scully would be pretty great. Not only is his use of the English language exquisite, but it’s fair. He will call out the Dodgers when they stink and he’ll praise them when they succeed. As the broadcaster for the Dodgers, if anything he’ll lean slightly towards the home team, but not much. This is why he is so well respected across the board.
This is my goal for my own brain broadcasting. I want to be able to call out my own faults, because when I bring attention to my failures and own up to them, I’m able to move on and improve. When I give myself a high five or possibly a fist bump for success, I get to enjoy the pleasure of a job well done. Its when I avoid going overboard either way that I’m able to use my experiences in a meaningful way.
I may never call a game for the Cubs or Diamondbacks or even the Durham Bulls, but I already have a job commenting on my life. I hope to put as much practice and dedication into that, than I would if I were sitting in the booth at Wrigley Field. For the game in my head is much more important and difficult than any game that takes place on the diamond.