You can pretty much always count on one thing…Beautiful weather for the Dodgers’ Home opener. For 17 straight years, I attended the festivities that mark the opening of an 81 game (and hopefully more with playoffs) home calendar, a streak that ended in 2007, by choice, trading in the sun and the crowd for a front row seat in front of my nice HDTV LCD.
Times being what they are, and having had a lot of unofficial off days in recent weeks, I planned to work from the office today, to set a good example for my team, and besides, technology would virtually keep me at the game. In today’s world I’m only a video or radio stream away from the action.
True to form, on a beautiful California day on which Vin Scully, the iconic voice of the Dodgers for 6 decades, threw out the first pitch, I looked forward like a little kid, to his harmonious call of the 58th home opener at Chavez Ravine. As I began my hunt for the online radio station that would turn my office into the next best thing to a luxury suite, I learned the sports world lost the legendary voice of Harry Kalas. A moment of reflection and it made me appreciate the fact that we all still have Vin Scully that much more. I was mere cyberspace hops away from hearing Vin Scully again today.
As cliche as it sounds, I spent many a school night staying up later than I was allowed to quietly sneak a listen of Vin spinning tales of guys names Garvey and Cey and Yeager and Sax and Fernando and Jerry Reuss and… . It was storytelling mastery, and it was free and available to anyone who had a cheap am radio. The static sounds of the airwaves only added to the ambiance and delight of a game. So with today’s technology, I’d have no problem hearing Vin Scully visualize the game for me.
A quick click to the KABC radio website, the Dodgers flagship station, and I could listen for free… to their regularly scheduled programming of political know-it-alls. Strike 1, fastball that just nicked the corner.
Google had plenty of results…. And after another umpteen clicks of the mouse, my excitement to hear “play ball” took an inside fastball belt high. Strike two.
MLB.com had the answer. In fact, they were pretty much the only answer: For a small fee, every game of the 2009 season could be mine on Internet Radio (not to mention streaming live video for every game for under $100). I smiled and my eyes focused…that next pitch was going to sail over the center field wall.
And then, giddiness struck out on a nasty curve ball at the knees.
In a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, and for some, to put a hot meal on the table, it’s the simple things, like listening to Vin Scully, that can make you smile for a few hours. Baseball has been heralded in movies and conversation as the glue that has held this nation together. It was America’s past time. But not anymore. Baseball is a business like any other. It’s P&L statements and board rooms and contracts and marketing. It’s not pennant races and head-first slides into home with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. It’s not Dad’s and their sons finding a common interest to bond over. Not anymore. Now, baseball is simply money.
I paid my $9.95, and I’m sure I’ll listen to countless games online throughout the year. But I won’t hear Vin Scully. Market restrictions limit what games, specifically, what Dodger games, I can listen to. And that doesn’t include home games. “Sorry Mr. Wolf”, no doubt would have been the Customer Service response had I called. “You can’t listen to Vin Scully but don’t worry, you can enjoy Jon Miller on the San Francisco Radio feed of the game.” Clearly that person has never tasted the incomparable difference of a grilled Dodger Dog to a boiled one. Like Jon Miller to Vin Scully, there is no comparison.
Nevertheless, thanks to technology and a nominal fee, I got to hear the game, and enjoyed every minute of the Dodgers’ thrashing of the Giants 11-1. I suppose sometimes you would eat a boiled Dodger Dog instead of no dog at all… but it’s not the same. So tomorrow, I’m going to let technology make sure this never happens again.
I’m going to Target and getting me a little AM radio. Look forward to hearing you Wednesday night, Vin!
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