LOS ANGELES – Nearing the end of what most locals agree has been the worst Dodgers season in memory, one man had the capacity to soothe the discontent, if only momentarily.
Vin Scully told his television audience Friday night, “God’s been awfully good to me, allowing me to do the things I love to do. I asked him one more year, at least, and He said, 'OK.' ”
Scully will be 84 in November and the 2012 season will be his 63rd calling Dodgers games.
This is not an insignificant development in L.A., which for nearly two years has watched in horror the systematic torching of the Dodgers from the top down.
The owner went bankrupt and refuses to sell. The undermanned team had its second losing season in 11 years in 2010, and is in danger of experiencing consecutive sub-.500 seasons for the first time since the late 1980s. In what is being described as a loose boycott, Dodger Stadium is two-thirds empty many nights.
The fight between Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball – Commissioner Bud Selig wants him out, McCourt stubbornly resists – promises to linger longer, perhaps for years.
What’s left is Vin, the last reason to believe in the Dodgers and the barrier standing between McCourt and a fan base that grows ever more disenchanted.
Scully would challenge such a romantic and heroic notion. His talent is surpassed only by his humility.
In this era of turmoil, however, the Dodgers are OK as long as Scully says they are. The Dodgers will survive if Scully says they will. They will emerge one day – free of McCourt, composed and competitive – when Scully grins and his eyes light up and he finishes a story about a man and a game and a memory.
His presence is too big for them to fail.
And while it seems unfair that Scully must near the close of his career slogging through somebody else’s muck, he would not view it that way. They mow the grass, line the field, turn on the lights, and the baseball follows. So Scully does, too, not in spite of the muck, but above it.
“I have the same responsibility every day,” Scully told me several months ago, when the Dodgers were becoming something no one recognized, “which is to be as accurate, as prepared, as informative as I can possibly be on that given day, period.
“Whether it’s war time, peace time, my responsibility is between those lines. Anything else would be a distraction. Anyone who is really interested will have read about it, heard about it. What I want to give them is what they tuned in for – the game.”
It’s what the Dodgers have left. Lucky for them.