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:
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