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Let Vin Make the Call
2004-02-03 21:13
by Jon Weisman

Over the years, we've probably heard Vin Scully talk about everything there is to talk about - except one thing.

The next Vin Scully.

In my mind, of course, there will be no replacing Vin. I'm well aware Vin has his detractors - people who tire of flubs he makes at the microphone, or who aren't drawn to his style. I accept that some feel that way.

For me, there has never been, nor will there every be, anyone who gives me more joy in listening to the broadcast of a sporting event than Vin.

Vin has been on my mind this weekend, ever since the announcement that all 162 Dodger games will be televised this season. Because there is no indication that Vinny's travel schedule will expand, this year we'll receive even more of our ongoing preview of life without Vinny.

I think we've all wondered about Vin's successor from time to time. I've been in the Al Michaels camp for years; I also still enjoy Jon Miller and Bob Costas. Not everyone in the Dodger audience would agree, but it doesn't really matter; none of those three seem likely to come.

Anyway, this weekend - for the first time, oddly - I started wondering whom Vin would recommend as his successor.

It's a question, because of his nature, that Vin would probably never answer on the record, but I still wonder.

I wonder if, among his unparalleled talents, if Vin has the ability to spot greatness in other broadcasters.

It seems like he would, wouldn't he? Think of Roger Angell, the consummate (albeit East Coast myopicized) baseball writer for The New Yorker. Fiction Editor at the magazine for years, Angell is certainly capable of spotting writing talent. But could he find the Next to be the most literary of baseball scribes?

I don't know (although I have a hunch about Ben McGrath over there). My gut tells me that one artist can pick out another artist. But I don't know. Is it possible that Vinny might not know exactly what makes him so great, or perhaps perceive greatness in another that isn't really there? That he would do as poorly picking a replacement for Dodger broadcasts as Magic Johnson coaching basketball?

Is it possible that one foggy day, way back when, Vin recommended Rick Monday? Seems like heresy to think it.

Certainly, I don't think any of Vin's remarkable poetry has been passed to Monday, tenured as a Dodger broadcaster without any spark of brilliance because he twice rescued flags, one American, one a 1981 National League pennant. Nor do I even think Vin has profoundly molded Ross Porter, likeable in his literal, earnest, Barney Fife kind of way, any more than Andy Taylor trained Barney to be his equal in Mayberry.

When the season finally comes that Vin doesn't ask us to "pull up a chair," I don't expect a new No. 1 from outside the organization. More likely, Porter would become the No. 1 announcer, Monday the No. 2, and the Dodgers would search for a new No. 3. Or, perhaps Porter and Monday would take over the TV coverage, and the Dodgers would hire a 3-4 duo for radio.

Here's what I think. Assuming Vin's fingerprints are not on Monday's hire, the Dodgers should let Vin choose his own successor. Have Vin listen to the tapes, have Vin meet the men or women applying for the job.

It's simple, really. Let Monet pass on his own brush.

Who knows, maybe Vin will spot some 22-year-old, fresh out of college, with crackling talent and an ethereal magic with words, who will bring true joy to Dodger fans for another 50 years.

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