Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Vin Scully’s brush with Monday Night Football

If you haven’t read the 1964 Robert Creamer feature on Vin Scully, don’t put it off any longer.

Meanwhile, Scully told Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News that he was approached to be the original play-by-play man for ABC’s Monday Night Football.

… Scully stands by the Red Barber philosophy of having one voice in the booth narrate for radio or TV. He says he saw the trend of analysts taking over came back in the 1970s, when he was asked by ABC producer Chuck Howard if he’d be interested in becoming the first play-by-play man on “Monday Night Football.”

“He said it was going to be the hottest thing on TV — and he was right,” said Scully.

Scully declined, in part, because “the more I thought about it, I realized it would conflict with the Dodgers’ schedule.” But another reason he passed, he said, had to do with how he saw the play-by-play man’s role being diluted.

Keith Jackson ended up with the job for the first year of “MNF” in the debut year of 1970, with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith as the analysts. Frank Gifford replaced Jackson in 1971 and stayed on play-by-play until 1985, when Al Michaels came in, and Gifford moved to an analyst until 1997.

“Because of how football was going to be televised, you’d have one or two analysts now in the booth,” Scully said. “I had been doing games with Jim Brown on one side and George Allen on the other, and there were times I wasn’t sure, ‘Do I turn to him first for an opinion?'”

Scully said the emergence of John Madden, who he had as a partner at CBS, “really put the analyst front and center. And baseball picked up on that. The whole business changed in my opinion because of the way ‘Monday Night Football’ did it.”

Change, maybe not for the better, as far as how local baseball broadcasts were influenced by the national presentation. …

* * *

  • Mike Sandlock, at 96 the oldest living former Dodger, will have a meet-and-greet with the team today, writes Jack Cavanaugh for the Times.
  • J.P Hoornstra of the Daily News checks in with Javy Guerra, who just returned from caring for his ailing father.
  • In May 1960, a 24-year-old Sandy Koufax threw 785 pitches in a 22-day stretch, capped by a 193-pitch, 13-inning outing. Geoff Young discusses at Baseball Prospectus.
  • Via a conversation with Dodger president Stan Kasten, Dylan Hernandez of the Times analyzes the Dodger trade-deadline prospects.
  • De Jon Watson talked about Dodger minor-leaguers with Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.
  • Believe it or not, the Dodgers have been the fourth-most clutch team in baseball in 2012, according to a study by Ari Berkowitz of Beyond the Box Score.
  • Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods offers The Bad News Bears in Breaking Bad.
  • Happy birthday to Rachel Robinson, who turned 90 on Thursday.


This morning


July 20 game chat


  1. Anonymous

    While I still hold out hope, Kasten’s comments are very honest and straightforward.

    • Anonymous

      Much more at ease after reading that. Future is bright

      • Anonymous

        I like what he said.  Even though he’s tempering expectations for this year, he’s looking long-term.  Which means hopefully we won’t trade away the farm for minimal short-term improvements.

        I also found it interesting where he said that the trade market gets more robust when the free agent market doesn’t have big names available.  I know we missed the boat this past off-season by not landing Fielder (although apparently we gave it a serious effort and just got topped), and I don’t see any big name free agents in the corners where we need them in the next couple of winters.  But maybe we can make a trade offer that another team can’t resist.

  2. Anonymous

    I remember watching the first Madden broadcast where he drew graphics onto the screen.  Somewhere around ’81?  Maybe technology would have made it inevitable, but it was pretty bold at the time.  Football and baseball have seriously diverged since then in presentation.

    • Anonymous

      I think TV production for baseball is extremely good. There are many more cameras available. We get better views of the strike zone than ever before.

      Pro football has some advantages in that they can bring in more equipment and set it up because there is more lead time.

      Baseball has also blown away football in terms of online distribution of its product.

  3. Yikes, Scully and Cosell!

    • Anonymous

      Both raised a few miles away in the boroughs, just a decade apart.

  4. Anonymous

    Vin’s doing football would have been a waste.

    • Anonymous

      He was pretty good at with CBS. I think he would have had trouble though as time went on because football became increasingly more challenging to call because the rate of substitutions has gone up. I remember when Lon Simmons quit calling 49ers games because he felt he never could figure out who was on the field.

      • Anonymous

         Simmons was a great baseball broadcaster, tremendous sense of humor.

    • He did football for years with CBS. I remember one of his first games involved the New York Jets with Joe Namath. He spent the entire first half calling Namath “Willie Joe” instead of “Joe Willie”. He was a little out of his element then…but things got better and by the time he stopped doing football, he was his normal excellent self.

      • Anonymous

        Personally, I think football’s a waste in the first place, but I know many of you will disagree.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t disagree if the topic is helmet clad football. Now the beautiful game of football that is a different story :)

          • Anonymous

            Football and fútbol both bore me.

          • Anonymous

            Futbol is dull only to those with dull minds.

          • Anonymous

            Fútbol is wonderful exercise for children until the age that they acquire sufficient hand-eye coordination for more complex sports.

          • Anonymous

            From those in the know.

          • Xavi/Iniesta/Messi, Ronaldo..etc..are you saying these guys don’t have hand eye contact? I agree I guess. That’s easy. Foot, thigh, chest eye contact now that a different story! At the highest level WBB these guys take 45 yard passes in the air with a defender on them, at full running speed like a wide receiver in football and with one touch control the ball to their feet so they can carry on and elude defenders. Now you don’t have to like soccer and I am not trying to tell you to like it, but don’t rip on the sport in terms of complexity. And what it takes ability wise to be great. There are no time outs, no chalkboard session in the game, no signals on when to swing or run or throw and many of the plays and tactics are intricate and creative all in one. All while running about 12 miles a game.

            You sit at field level for a high end game and I guarantee you will think a little differently even if you still don’t wanna ever watch it again. TV kills the sport.   And yah I do take it a little personal as I worked hard to be a good player. In fact I was an All Star SS at 15 and though I needed to make a choice and focus on one and I choose soccer. It was more fun and more creative which made the learning of things different, not repitive like baseball was. And you know I am here daily and I LOVE BASEBALL. end rant sorry. im not mad I swear…just wanna show my passion a bit.

          • Anonymous

            There was an article on CNN Health about soccer players. Something to about their brains processing info much more quickly than us mortals.

  5. It seems obvious that it will be very difficult to improve this ballclub via trading prospects. We just don’t have the ammunition. When your top prospect projects as a number 3 starter (maybe a number 2), there are issues.The free agency market over the next couple of years is also questionable, unless the big play is made for Josh Hamilton, who I believe will stay in Texas anyway. Clubs have proactively taken major bats off the market with extensions (Joey Votto, Adam Jones, et al), and what’s left may represent rather narrow improvement.

    However, there is one thing this ownership group has, and that is money, spent in a two-pronged effort. It’s clear that they are investing heavily in scouting and player development, including the rebuilding of the Latin American effort (the single most important development so far). Those efforts will surely pay off…but it’s 2, maybe 3 years down the road.

    The other area where money can make a difference…but more immediately…is in taking on questionable contracts attached to productive players. You overpay to build a bridge to the future. I have read negative comments here on prospective trades for Aramis Ramirez, Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, and several others, mainly because of the contracts they carry. If these were normal times perhaps I’d agree. But we have a superstar centerfielder entering his prime, and a superstar lefthanded pitcher that we will presumable extend to reach the middle of his prime. We have a winnable division. Therefore, I say we have to take on some questionable deals in order to build that bridge. Jimmy Rollins is a massive upgrade. Aramis Ramirez is a massive upgrade. They make the team better. No one is suggesting we go take on Vernon Wells…but to me Ramirez and Rollins are reasonable risks. Let’s build that bridge…

    • Anonymous

      They’re both old.  As the sport cleans itself up, 35 is again becoming the date on the milk carton.  Just my opinion.

      • If not questionable contracts, then who? Do we really want to watch the Adam Kennedys, Juan Uribes or even the Jerry Hairstons of the world play regularly for the Dodgers until kingdom come? I would rather bet on folks like Rollins and Ramirez still being productive for 1 more year after this one.

        • Anonymous

          I think J Fields at 3d and Hairston in left is a no brainer.

          Uribe is (possibly) 33.  Possibly.  Obviously, his conditioning ages him, whether or not he was actually born in ’79.

          What is Rollins minus a little bit of speed?  David Eckstein. 

          I honestly have no idea about the other corner, and even though my self-imposed ban on discussing him has almost certainly hit my pledged 50ABs without a dinger, I’ve probably said enough for it to be a rule 8 violation in perpetuity.

          All my opinion.  As is my suspicion that if Ned wasn’t too busy being Ned, he’d have some ideas involving players in other AA/AAA systems.

          • Anonymous

             Rollins has far greater tools than Eckstein ever hard.

          • Anonymous

            He’s clutchy – but is he super-clutchy?  That’s a shallow comparison, but I’d rather have a 31 year old DE than a 35 year old JR.

            JR obviously peaked as a batter 3 or 4 years ago.  Hitters are starting to age like they used to before everyone was doped up.

          • Anonymous

            Eckstein actually had some speed.  No arm, however.  

          • Anonymous

             Rollins has declined, but he’s still a top 10 offensive SS, and a solid fielder to boot. He could easily be worth 4-5 wins over Dee.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t see Gordon playing much in August and September if we can keep it within 5 of the Gs, in any case.

            Luis Cruz rhymes with “his to lose”.

          • foul tip

             Uribe is 33…pounds overweight?

          • Anonymous

             Sounds like an understatement.

          • Anonymous

            Fields BA on the road is 269 this season 
            last year he hit 202 in Japan for 40 games with 116 PA; was he cut or left on his own/ I don’t know.

          • Anonymous

            Obviously his brief trip to Japan didn’t agree with him.

            Probably a big transition for an Okie.

            I’m sure you’d agree that his offensive presence is superior to Juan’s and his defense at the corner is much better than Hairston’s.

      • Anonymous

        Hanley Ramirez will be 29 in December.
        Check the facts before you post for once

        • Anonymous

          Here’s the end of the post:

          ” Aramis Ramirez is a massive upgrade. They make the team better. No one
          is suggesting we go take on Vernon Wells…but to me Ramirez and Rollins
          are reasonable risks. Let’s build that bridge…”

          Aramis is 34, apology accepted, Rule 3 noted.

          • Anonymous

            Ramirez and Rollins are reasonable stopgap/upgrades, but I believe in Dee as the SS of the future.  Wells only makes sense if we pay no more than maybe $6m/year for him which won’t happen.  Are there no better upgrade options at 1B?  I am so over Loney . . .

    • foul tip

      Times interview with Kasten story Jon linked to says Dodgers not showing much interest in Rollins due to his contract.

  6. Tonight’s lineup:

    Abreu 7
    Ellis 4
    Kemp 8
    Ethier 9
    Rivera 3
    Hairston 5
    Cruz 6
    Treanor 2
    Harang 1

    • Anonymous

      Aside from Treanor spelling Ellis, this appears to be the Dodgers’ least worst lineup.  

  7. Other than baseball, I think Vin was best at golf.

  8. foul tip’s version of Dempster v. Hamels v. Eovaldi:

    Cheat sheet…they say that going by numbers, Hamels not as much better as might be thought.

    One of their conclusions:  “…any upgrade from Eovaldi to either Hamels or Dempster will
    not by itself be enough to push the Dodgers into the playoffs.”

    Don’t know if this has been here, but tonight is Dempster’s turn to start.  That might give a bit of a hurry-up to the deal, which supposedly is down to just which two prospects.

    • Anonymous

      Well one win increase over a non-replacement level player in two months is not trivial. Prince Fielder got $200million for being able to produce 5 wins over replacement in a six month period.

  9. Anonymous

    I loved the Creamer piece. Even back in 1964 smog and bumper to bumper traffic.

  10. Anonymous

    I thought the combo of Scully and Garagiola on the Saturday game of the week was both entertaining and informative.

  11. Anonymous

    Creamer did throw me a curve when he said the Dodgers were involved in both playoff series and world series games since moving to LA. Given the fact that a team went directly into the WS if they came in first, then what playoff games? Maybe he was referring to 1962. But I thought those were counted as regular season games.

    • They were counted as regular season games but, considering there were no actual playoff series before the end of the decade, I think people also referred to them as playoff series.

      • Anonymous

        That’s correct.  At that time, people referred to them as “playoffs”, before there was any other connotation to the term. Nobody thought of them as regular season games, although I guess the stats incurred counted as such.

        • I think y’all are forgetting that there was a best-of-three playoff series between the Milwaukee Braves and the Dodgers in 1959. The Dodgers won Game 1 behind Larry Sherry in relief and won Game 2 in the 12th on a Felix Mantilla throwing error trying to get Furillo at 1st base.

          • Anonymous

            Ah now I see. There were two “play off” series (59 and 62) and two WS (59 and 63). Thank you and thanks to the late, great Creamer for that wonderful article.

  12. Anonymous

    Are the Marlins really serious about moving Hanley Ramirez?  I know he’s underwhelmed this year and last, but I have to wonder whether a return to his natural position at shortstop might improve his mood.  He’s only 28, and capable of taking over a game.  And providing the kind on slugging from a shortstop that would allow the Dodgers to overlook their punchless corners.  

    Punchless Corners would be a good name for a bar near a boxing gym, no? 

    • wow look how steep a drop off that is! I wonder why? It’s a great call I think by you! I mean maybe there is a reason and can return to form…

  13. KT

    I remember going to games in the 60’s and all you heard throughout the stadium was Vin Scully’s voice…those were great times and I miss that part of the equation when I go to games now a days

  14. Anonymous

    Kasten’s comments are just what I wanted to “hear.”  So if Colletti wants to throw a couple of iffy prospects at a mediocre veteran pitcher or infielder, at least we know an adult has the keys to the good liquor cabinet.  I think Kasten realizes that this team has lots of holes, and is therefore focused on next year or the year after.  The Dodgers might be buyers in the sense of trading kids for vets, but nothing that will upset future plans.

    And let’s face it, the Dodgers really can’t be sellers.  I think the only MLB player that anyone would want might be Billingsley (assuming that Kemp, Ethier, and Kershaw are locked up and Jansen and AJ Ellis are too cheap to part with).

    •  I’m sure someone would take Capuano if he were on the market. 

      • Anonymous

        If the offer were right, I believe they would move Capuano.  Problem is, I don’t see any viable partners that would take/need him in exchange for a corresponding Dodger need. 

    • There’s no kid that we could trade that will upset future plans.

      • Anonymous

        I disagree.  Trading Zach Lee or Yasiel Puig would indeed upset future plans.  Big time.

    • Anonymous

      >> And let’s face it, the Dodgers really can’t be sellers.  I think the only MLB player that anyone would want might be Billingsley (assuming that Kemp, Ethier, and Kershaw are locked up and Jansen and AJ Ellis are too cheap to part with).

      So the Dodgers really can’t be sellers, because the only players other teams would want, are players we would want to keep.  Uh… yeah.  :)

      • Anonymous

        Exactly, but if your “uh… yeah” is meant to imply that my statement is tautological, it isn’t.  Trades happen precisely when the “buyer” values the major league components that the “seller” has to offer more than the seller does, almost always because the buyer places a higher value on the short-term payoff.  I’ll grant Jon’s point that I missed Capuano.  I’ll even add Hairston as a guy whose versatility might be attractive to a suitor with just such a short-term need.  But otherwise, my claim is that the Dodgers have lots of veterans they should be happy to part with but who are all so terrible at baseball that they would not improve any “buying” team on the field, at any cost.  When your roster is full of replacement-level players, why would anyone pay anything for them?

        On the 25-man roster (including Billingsley), I think the Dodgers have 5 guys they want to keep either for their difficult to replace talent (CK, MK, AE) or their high value relative to cost (KJ, AJE), 3 guys with enough talent to help buying teams right away who are more easily replaced and not that cheap (CB, CC, JHJr), and 17 guys who are easily replaced, mostly overpaid, and would be unlikely to help any buying team during a pennant race enough to warrant any decent prospects in return. 

        We could argue over whether I’ve miscategorized someone (Belisario?  Mark Ellis?  Heck, Ethier?) but still, that’s a horrible team, and more to the point, a horrible hand to play at the trade deadline. 

  15. Anonymous

    Speaking of broadcasts, for those who don’t pay to subscribe to PrimeTicket (L.A.) or MLB Extra Innings (nationwide), three of the games in the next week will be cablecast nationwide.  The Mets game Sunday afternoon will be on TBS, and the Tuesday night and Thursday afternoon games in St. Louis will both be the featured game on MLB Network.

    Speaking of which, on Wednesday night Vin was talking about how the Dodgers will miss the hot weather by going to New York this weekend, right after the heat moved out.  Unfortunately, he didn’t mention the series in St. Louis; the forecast highs for those four days are 104, 104, 105, and 103*.  And I’ve got tickets to all four games.  Lucky me!  :(  I’ve already concluded that in the name “St. Louis”, the “St.” stands for SWEAT.


    • There’s nothing worse than mid-summer St. Louis heat…it sucks the life out of you.

      • Anonymous

        Come to Aus, I’ll show you a real summer ;)

        • KT

          I’ll top that one John….Lived 2 years in the Middle East in Bahrain…Very very hot and humid because it is an island next to Saudi Arabia

    •  Yes, but you’ll be with the best baseball fans in America ™.

  16. Anonymous

    Kasten overpaid Ethier then gave out $40 mil. to a Cuban who hasn’t played baseball in over a year. Fox in a henhouse etc.

    • foul tip

      So you’ve said, several times before, except for maybe saying Ned did it.  ;-])

      • Anonymous

         The post was meant to be a reply to Go_Bears’ post above concerning Kasten’s supervision of Ned. I don’t know why people lionize the guy. As far as I’ve seen, he’s made a couple of really bad moves and spilled baseball cliches whenever possible.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t lionize Kasten in absolute terms.  Just compared with Colletti. 
          And I was applauding the comment he made more than him personally. 
          What he said is exactly what I want the Dodgers to be thinking.  Now,
          talk is cheap: he could talk sense and still make a dumb deal.  But I
          don’t imagine such a thought would ever have crossed Colletti’s mind to
          begin with.  He has shown over the years that he sees the GMs job at the
          trade deadline is always to be an active
          buyer.  Sometimes being a buyer makes good sense –  but it’s nice to see
          that someone in the front office realizes that it’s not always true.

        • Both of those moves, whether you agree or disagree with them speak to the long term of this team. Like it or not they see Ethier/Kemp/Puig as our potential OF for a few years to come. I heard Ned say it..

        • foul tip

           Kasten’s long history with Atlanta, and brief one with Washington, are why he’s held in such high regard.  What was it, 14 straight division titles in Atlanta, albeit only one WS title. But a couple other WS were very close.  He had great help with GM John Schuerholz, who some say may deserve more credit than Kasten.

          Kasten also is architect of what Washington puts on the field now.

          He’s not perfect.  He’s made some moves that didn’t work; all GMs and baseball executives do. 

          But history says he’s an improvement by several orders of magnitude over who had been calling shots.

          He may not repeat the success in LA.  But IMO he deserves a good bit of slack and time to see what he can do.

    • Anonymous

      Rule 8:

      Thank You For Not …
      8. making the same point over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again

      • Anonymous

        And rest assured the next time I see you making “the same point” about Uribe or what-not, I will remind you of it.

        • Anonymous

          BS.  I don’t make the same point over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.  You do.  You keep breaking Jon’s rules, over and over and over and over.  Maybe you should grow up and stick to the rules.

          • Anonymous

            At this point you are trolling and pestering me to satisfy some weird personal vendetta, which you thinly disguise as a zeal for rules enforcement. Please stop this and reflect on your reasons for going to such lengths against some anonymous internet commenter.

          • Anonymous

            Given the obvious fact that nsx was completely justified in his comments, the above comment is low.

  17. foul tip

    I have always thought the key to Vin’s greatness is that he wants to TELL  the story as best it can be told–not BE a part of it like many analysts seem to be, or at least try to be.

    It’s more or less the difference between Vin and John Madden.  Vin wants to get out of the way of the story.  The Maddens want to mix in their version.

    Yes, comparing Vin and Madden is apples v. oranges.  But still.

    Networks may envision getting more viewers if  those viewers feel they can sit down and have a beer and watch a game with their analyst buddy.  He makes them think they’re right there with him, that he’s talking to them personally..and they may even talk back, to the screen.

    At what he does, Vin is just as good as or better than any analyst.  But he’s not what viewers expect these days.  He’s essentially a radio guy on TV, which is the same way some other broadcast legends honed their craft.

    Could anyone envision Vin Scully on camera dressed in a 60s Dodger jersey with #32 on it, clowning around on Koufax’s birthday? 

    I sure can’t.  I don’t know if Vin would think that kind of stuff is beneath him–it is–but it’s certainly not Vin. 

    Vin belongs to an earlier broadcast age.  I’m not at all sure the modern one is an improvement. 
    There may not be other Vin Scullys out there.  But none will develop if none are given the chance to develop and practice his type and caliber of craft….which these days, they probably won’t be.

    • Anonymous

      I think Vin has a class that is truly timeless.  A different person could have chosen to play the role of the “he gone” chisox moron, he consciously chose otherwise.  His intelligence, wit and style don’t belong to any particular era.

      • Anonymous

         Vin also knows when to let the story speak for itself.

      • Yeah, Harrelson’s tag line (she gone) is the worst ever for me. Worse than `grab some pine, meat’.

    • Anonymous

      I also like it when Vin criticizes bad baseball, like when the Dodgers completely screwed up the rundown. He said kids in the street could do that play correctly :)

  18. foul tip

    Dodger team stats:

    Runs scored per game          3.7        
    NL Rank

  19. Anonymous

    After reading the Berkowitz piece, I am reminded of Jerry West and his fabulous nickname, “Mr. More Likely A Proponent Of Random Variation Than An Actual Skill.”

  20. Robert Creamer also co-wrote Red Barber’s autobiography, Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat, in addition to his other marvelous work on Ruth and Stengel, and this magnificent feature on The Vin, the best I’ve ever read (though yours in your book is a close second, really).

  21. Now a few thoughts.  Foul Tip, I can remember that Vin and Jerry used to do promos on TV for things like bat day, and I remember them hitting each other with the wiffle bats and that sort of thing.  But they were having FUN, not trying to convince us that they were having fun, which is what so many do today.

    About Madden:  I think he was a great analyst.  When he broke in, he asked his partner, Lindsey Nelson, so I quit talking when the play starts?  Lindsey, who was a great baseball and football play-by-play man, said, no, finish your thought and I’ll catch everybody up, but don’t be talking unless you have something to say.  When Madden worked with The Vin, there was a lot of verbiage.  I thought they were a tremendous team due to the contrast–Madden the lunch bucket guy, our Vin the poet.  But CBS went with Pat Summerall, another fine broadcaster, so Vin went to the game of the week and more Dodger games.  Thank you, CBS.

    Vin did football and golf for CBS from 1975 to 1982, in addition to occasional tennis and–ugh–“Challenge of the Sexes,” part of the trashsport era.  One reason he turned down Monday Night Football was having to work with Cosell, and Jack Buck turned them down, too, but he happened to be mad at ABC for sticking it to him several years before.  Vin was terrific on golf, and had Jack Whitaker and Ben Wright, two of the most literate announcers ever to sit behind a microphone, so it was a great listen.

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