Jerry and I talked about it during last night’s broadcast from Los Angeles, but it bears repeating. When I first began broadcasting MLB games in 1985, the Cleveland Indians were not a very good team. By the middle of June, they were already 20 games below .500, on the way to a record of 60-102. Needless to say, I had never experienced before anything like that, whether as an athlete or a broadcaster. One of my colleagues in Cleveland was Herb Score, a tremendous left-handed pitcher, who saw his career derailed when he took a line drive to his face, although Herb said a shoulder injury was the ultimate cause. He broadcast Indians games for 34 seasons, describing more than 2,500 losses during that time. In fact, between 1964 and 1994, the Indians finished above .500 only 6 times.
In that 1985 season, I sought advice from Herb as to how a baseball broadcaster can still be effective when a team is on its way to an ignominious season. He told me a baseball play-by-play man should always remember three things:
1) Even the worst MLB team is likely to win 50-60 games, so a broadcaster can come to the ballpark with the hope that this game would be one of those wins. If the team lost, hopes would remain because those 50-60 wins were still going to happen, and now the odds have improved.
2) More often than not, some play will take place—whether from the team you are covering or the opposition—that will make you say WOW!
3) Many times, something will take place that you have never seen before in a game.
I have made that my philosophy in my coverage of baseball ever since; something that helped during last season’s tough results for the Rockies. It was also brought home to me over the past several games on this trip. The Rockies were issued 4 walks in one inning without scoring a run. Eric Young hit doubles in consecutive at-bats, only to be thrown out at third, later in the inning. The Rockies collected 19 hits in last night’s game at Dodger Stadium, the most in one game in L-A in the team’s history. Finally, Scott Schumaker, an infielder-outfielder by trade, pitched the 9th inning for the Dodgers. I’ve been privileged to cover more than 4,000 games in the big leagues, and unbelievably, the elements I just mentioned all were firsts for me. That’s just a small reason why baseball is such a beautiful game for me.
Two CHECK IT OUTS in this edition. It will be fun to watch how Nolan Arenado adapts to the big leagues. He’s just 22, but it is evident that he has the talent and the passion for the game. Now we get to see if he can handle the pressure that goes with the expectations for him. It should be fascinating. At the other end of the age spectrum, check out the latest album from Tom Jones. Now 71, his latest release, SPIRIT IN THE ROOM, is a testament to his staying power as an entertainer. For a performer that first made the spotlight because of his sexuality nearly 50 years ago, he still is a powerful singer. In particular, enjoy his rendition of the old Blind Willie Jefferson tune SOUL OF A MAN.