Saturday, October 03, 2009

Before Midnight

Two thoughts:

1. People (well, first my brother John and then Who-the-Hell, the guy on ESPN who lost all that weight, I really can't remember his name) once called NFL Conference Championship Sunday "the best day in the sports calendar."

No: the best day is the first Sunday in October, the intersection between the NFL, a good pennant race, and sorting out what happened in college football.

2. Really: to calm down after a stressful day, turn on the Dodgers on Last inning, Scully: "Base hit to right, and heeeeere comes Furcal." To quote Nabokov: "A poem, forsooth. A poem!" Will future generations marvel at the greatest baseball announcer of all time simply sitting in the booth with a scorecard and a monitor, supplying both the text and commentary with a marvelous baritone combined with an economy of words worthy of Chekohov and Hemingway?

One moment. Manny, who's had a brutal post-suspension season, hits a scorcher to right-center in a 0-0 game with post-season implications. Forty thousand Dodger fans leap to their feet, thinking extra bases. The Rockies center fielder leaps for the ball, catches it . . . only his glove hand hits the field and the ball trickles out. Easy double (or, the way Manny "runs," a single.) But the center fielder, in a crafty bit of gamesmanship, tucks his body around the ball on the ground, shielding it from the second-base umpire. The call: out.

Multiple replays leave no doubt. The catch was a deke. In similar circumstances, Sterling or Harrelson would have broken a blood vessel. Morgan would have brought the play up fifteen times over the remaining course of the game, and I'm not exaggerating.

Scully? He simply says, "Well, you can see the ball trickle out, but 'out' was the umpire's call," trusting that his television viewers have eyes in their heads. Then, just for the seeing-impaired, he waits until the Rocky center fielder comes up again to say, "He got away with a little trick play an inning ago," and leaves it at that--complimenting the player on his craftiness (and it was), rather than calling for the umpire's suspension, if not firing.

Oh, and by the way: the game clinched the NL West for the Dodgers, and, by the way, Joe Torre. Hard not to feel good for Joe.

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