Vin Scully: “and that’s the story of Mike Matheny and the bird poop”

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Yes, Vin Scully is good at describing the game action, but it’s not like he’s Al Michaels “Do you believe in miracles!” intense or anything. He has had a ton of great and dramatic moments, of course, but what sets him apart is how easy and pleasant he is to listen to over the long haul of a game and a season.

His thing is telling stories. That’s key to his flow. You’re watching a three hour game and your attention simply can’t be on the X’s and O’s all the time — and the less said about the “talking to hear myself talk” business of color commentators the better — so Scully provides a respite every inning or so with some bit of background on a player or manager. An anecdote or an obscure fact or two, seamlessly woven into his play-by-play. “Uggla” means “owl” in Swedish, for example. Or this player likes to play the sousaphone. When people try to describe how Vin Scully is relaxing to listen to, the stories are essential to that.

They’re not all beautiful gems, of course. Heck, I’d say most of them aren’t. They’re goofy a heck of a lot of the time and if anyone other than Scully was telling them you’d probably have a lot of “um, oookaaay” sort of reactions. Mostly because the story teller would laugh at himself or be self conscious about it.

For example, can you imagine anyone telling you a story that contained the line “and then a pigeon defecated directly on his head” without guffawing and losing his forward storytelling momentum? I don’t think anyone but Vin Scully could. And that’s what he did last night, describing how a bird crapping on Mike Matheny’s head in Ann Arbor one fine morning helped him decide to stay in school:

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.