Many of you are sports fans, but how many of you know the difference between a sports announcer and a sports commentator?
I’ll give you a clue, listen to a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game and you’ll quickly discover the difference. Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully is the last of a dying breed of sports announcers. He actually announces what is happening in the game. For example, I was just watching the Arizona Diamondbacks playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles and Scully was announcing the game. Here’s what an announcer sounds like:
“Here’s the one-one pitch on the way. Fast ball with a little sink to it and the count one and two. In fact, I think that was pretty much somewhere between a change and fast ball. A lot of arm speed but it registered in the low 80s. Maeda second and third, nobody out, second inning, no score. In the dirt, nice block by A. J. Ellis. Diamondbacks trying to snap a 2 game losing streak. They came in here 2 and 5, 3 games back of the Giants. Chip Hale, among other things likes to experiment with his lineup, Bruce Bochy does as well, and what Chip Hale does, he bats his pitcher 8th. What that does for the shortstop Ahmed, it kind of opens up the gate for Ahmed as he’s either leading off an inning or coming up with some of the bases unoccupied and he likes to run. Two two pitch chased and missed way off the plate and Tomas goes fishing and strikes out.”
Scully describes each pitch, what the batter does, what the count is and so on. Virtually all of today’s sports broadcasters no longer give you a play by play call of a game. They spend their time pontificating about everything else going on with a player, a team, their own sports past or the sport in general. If you’re not watching carefully, you miss everything happening in the game because the broadcasters have become commentators who spend most of their time commenting instead of announcing.
Vin Scully is a very old school announcer, starting with the old Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and traveling with the team when they moved to Los Angeles in 1958. At 88 years of age, he is, as far as I am aware of, the last good sports announcer left in professional sports.
When he leaves the game, the profession of professional sports announcing will end with him and we’ll be left with commentators who love the sound of their own voice while trying to make us believe that they know everything about their sport.
Personally, I believe the day Scully stops announcing will be one of the saddest days in professional sports and will leave me sorely tempted to use the mute button more and more when watching baseball, football and many other sports.