Let’s start with a story — because with Vin Scully there’s always a story involved.
Scully was 8 years old when he walked by a Chinese laundry in New York, looked through the window and saw the linescore from the World Series game that day.
“That would be Oct. 2, 1936, and the Yankees beat up the Giants 18-4,” Scully said. “As a little boy, my first reaction was, ‘Oh, those poor Giants.’ ”
Scully would walk to Giants games at the Polo Grounds after school. “That’s when I fell in love with baseball and became a true fan,” Scully said. “My last game with the Giants will be Oct. 2, 2016. That will be exactly 80 years to the minute from when I first fell in love with the game.”
America has fallen in love with Scully during his amazing 67-year run as Dodgers announcer. The fact that anyone can do anything for 67 years — a nod to Sid Hartman — is amazing in its own right. But Scully, during his extraordinary career, became the voice of baseball. He has informed listeners and viewers with his timely stories. He has entertained them with one-liners. He is skilled at making the right call at the right time then stepping away so fans can savor the moment — or simply listen to the roar of the crowd.
He’s known for his legendary calls of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game 51 years ago, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth and Kirk Gibson’s walk-off homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. It was the Gibson home run call on NBC in which Scully was silent for nearly a minute to allow the enormity of the moment sink in.
“Every day for 67 years, our friend has come on the air and given us Dodger baseball,” former Dodgers outfielder Rick Monday told ESPN. “He’s not a broadcaster. He’s our friend, whether you’ve ever met him or not.”
Since he announced that this would be his last year, players, coaches, managers, umpires and other officials have made their way to the Dodger Stadium pressbox to wish Scully well. Announcer Charley Steiner has joked that the farewell tour is coming to Scully rather than the other way around.
One of those visitors was Nationals star Bryce Harper, whose first major league game was at Dodger Stadium. Harper has a recording from the game, as Scully mentioned his father being an iron worker from Las Vegas.
This weekend marks Scully’s final games at Dodger Stadium, and the club scheduled special events throughout the series against the Rockies. Scully even wrote a letter of dedication that was handed out to fans in attendance. Scully’s final games will be in San Francisco next weekend. Then he will go home.
He doesn’t want to call Dodgers playoff games and take away from their moment. So it will end in San Francisco, calling games against the team he followed as a young fan — 80 years ago.
“It seems like the plan was laid out for me,” Scully said, “and all I had to do was follow the instructions.”
There should be concerns about Cleveland’s rotation after Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar went down because of injuries, but the Indians have assembled a bullpen that can shorten games to six or even five innings and take pressure off the starters to pitch deep into games. Cleveland relievers entered Saturday with a 3.29 ERA, easily the best in the American League.
One of many decisions Kansas City needs to make over the next year is whether to bring back Edinson Volquez.
He is 10-11 with a 5.25 ERA. There’s a mutual option for $10 million for 2017. But the pitching market this offseason is not strong, and $10 million is not that bad for a back-of-the-rotation veteran.
Detroit might not get third baseman Nick Castellanos back in the lineup before the end of the regular season. Castellanos is recovering from a broken left hand and is still experiencing discomfort when he tries to swing a bat. Erick Aybar, Andrew Romine and Jacoby Jones have filled in for him at third as the Tigers fight for a wild-card spot.
White Sox star Jose Abreu caused a stir Monday when, after a loss to the Royals, he said that the Royals have the desire to win and to be good.
When asked if the White Sox have those traits, he said, “No.” He backtracked some the next day, but catcher Alex Avila said Abreu had the right to question his team when it doesn’t meet expectations.
The 3-2 pitch
Three observations ...
• Boston already has a dangerous offense. If the starters are going pitch like they have over the past two weeks, the Red Sox could be set up for a deep playoff run.
• To whoever takes over the Twins, a high priority needs to be placed on solidifying the catcher position. Game-calling, stolen base prevention and pitch-framing must take precedence over offense.
• The Ryan Howard era will quietly end in Philadelphia next week. The once-feared slugger, who deteriorated over the past five seasons, will make the last of his $25 million this year, then will be bought out for $10 million over the offseason.
...and two predictions
• The injury-plagued Mets won’t have enough horses to last long in the playoffs, if they make them. Now lefthander Steven Matz has had a setback with his shoulder.
• Brian Dozier will finish with 45 home runs.
He won’t win the home run title but will hit more homers than any second baseman in a season.