There is something about the rest of the year, when it isn't baseball season, that is just a bit incomplete, poorer somehow. I'm not one of those uberfans, someone who watches every game, buys season tickets, cancels perfectly good engagements because the Dodgers are playing the Giants. Nope, none of that. I do watch some games, listen to them on the radio, go to a few - both major and minor league games.
Ballgames make me feel better. Last night I was in a really crappy mood until I heated up a bowl of leftover noodles, opened a beer, and sat down in front of the ballgame on TV. I felt better fast.
I've been a baseball fan - a loyal Dodgers fan - since I went to my very first ballgame, which was one of the first games the Dodgers ever played in Los Angeles, back in 1958.
This picture of my sister and me was taken in September 1959: Of course I had no choice but to be a baseball fan. My father would have left me to die of exposure on the beach at Venice if I had given any indication of being anything but a baseball fan.
So, I've been a Dodgers fan for 51 years. Holy shit! No, really? Why did I write that?
But, Vin Scully, the Dodgers' announcer, has been with the team for 60 years. There is no human being on the planet I would rather hear speak. Lauren Bacall, when she was 17 and turning Bogie into a quivering mess of hormonal jelly simply asking him if he knew how to whistle, would at most play a good second aural fiddle to my ears.
And Vin, at 81, is still going strong. These days, if you want to hear him announce an entire game, you need to listen to him on TV when the Dodgers are at home or playing in the West. But do yourself a favor sometime, figure out a way to turn off the picture but leave the sound on. Listen to Vin like I used to on the radio. (You can still hear him for the first few innings of each game on the radio, but you can't hear the whole thing.)
With Vin talking, you don't need no stinking pictures. He lays it all out for you, with an economy of language and in a cadence and tone that makes the televised game superfluous. Sometimes the pictures even get in the way. By the end of a game you'll know far more about baseball and about the people who play it and watch it, and some other stuff too, then you did before. That'll happen by the end of any game Vin announces.
I swear that Vin Scully taught me more about English than any teacher I ever had. He's inspired me as much as Melville, Twain, Chester Himes, John Fante or Flannery O'Connor.There's a chance that this is his final year announcing for the Dodgers. I can't imagine them without him. I'll still be a fan, but once Vin retires, even the months when baseball is in season will feel a bit incomplete.
SPEAKING OF BASEBALL, I've been going to games out in Rancho Cucamonga over the past few years. The Quakes play there, at the Epicenter. (Where else would Quakes play?) It's a sweet little ballpark and games are a whole lot of fun. Not to mention, far cheaper than at Dodger Stadium. Here's the Epicenter:Now here's a good chance for you to come out to a game at the Epicenter.
On Friday June 19th, there will be a special event involving writers at the ballpark. I've helped round up a group of writers to participate. It should be a lot of fun. Come on out to cheer on the Quakes (they're playing the Lake Elsinore Storm that night) and meet some of us writer types. Baseball is, after all, the most literary sport. Here's the flyer for the event: