Off Base
On Any Given Sunday

April 19, 2010, 7:00 p.m. On any given Sunday, two Los Angeles teams can play key games a couple of miles apart, we the people can argue the greater import, and while there is a third team which uses the L.A. name too, no one will care a lick about the outcome of their contest. No one outside of Orange County, that is.

Our Lakers basketball team defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 87-79, in their first-round playoff opener Sunday at Staples, our baseball team beat the San Francisco Giants, 2-1 at Dodger Stadium, and the Angels did something or other in an adjacent country, in, from what I understand, was a 3-1 victory for the visitors.

(I say "from what I understand" because no one I know was watching closely enough to confirm it.)

So that's two wins, no losses for the locals. But enough with the petty regionalism. We'll no doubt pick that up again sometime soon.

On any given day, one team can beat another – any other – whether they're supposed to be struggling and to some degree inferior at the time or not. On a given Sunday, two rivals can play an absolutely beautiful game, in which every pitch matters as much as the next, with a semi-surprise ending, and lucky for us, with the story being told as well a person can, by the great Vin Scully.

We know Vin is going to retire someday, and with his recent health scare, we can't help thinking, why don't we leave our tickets to the game in the desk drawer, and just stay home to listen. We can't help wondering, how many more times are we going to be treated to his broadcast.

We were treated to one such broadcast Sunday. And while attending a Dodgers-Giants game is one of my favorite things to do in this town, as good a reason to live here as anything I experience in life, I'm glad I stayed home to listen. And it really was poetry, wasn't it?

Masterful pitching performances by a pair of left-handers, Barry Zito and Clayton Kershaw, a 2-1 final with a late-inning turnaround, on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Chavez Ravine. And I'm thinking about the 1981 World Series. Yankees at Dodgers in Game Five, to be precise. October 25, 1981, to be precise.

In that one, which I was fortunate enough to attend, and like yesterday, the visitors scored first. A ground-rule double for Reggie Jackson, a Davey Lopes error on a pop fly by Bob Watson putting runners on first and third, with an infield hit by Lou Piniella plating Jackson.

A single tally for the visitors in the top of the line score, with a deuce for the Dodgers in the lower, that day in '81; the exact same thing this day in 2010. Southpaw Ron Guidry threw 99 pitches in seven innings that day; Zito threw 104 in 7 1/3 this day.

One earned run allowed by lefty Jerry Reuss, with three walks and six strikeouts that day; one earned run by Kershaw, with four walks and nine strikeouts this day.

The Dodgers turned it around in the seventh inning in that one, with back-to-back homers by Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager accounting for all the scoring. In this one, a Manny Ramirez eighth-inning homer did the trick, accounting for the scoring.

In what Vin would no doubt call a "murmur of protest," nothing but a single the rest of the way in that one. Just a walk the rest of the way in this one.
A memorable afternoon of L.A. baseball in that one; nearly as memorable an afternoon of L.A. baseball in this one. Just great, great L.A. stuff.

And by the way, while I love the Lakers, I didn't watch a minute of the basketball yesterday, and I don't regret it one bit…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

More Vin Scully: There's a brilliant heading, huh? More Vin Scully? Who wouldn't second that notion, I ask you.

About all that was missing from the series with San Francisco was Vin's usual description of Eugenio Velez, the ultra-thin Giants infielder who Vin says "looks like Gandhi on a fast."

But more importantly, yesterday marked Scully's 60th anniversary as Dodgers broadcaster. So happy anniversary, sir.

With our other civic treasure of an announcer, Chick Hearn, being celebrated as well on Sunday, immortalized with a statue at the basketball venue, isn't it time we did the same for Vinny at the baseball stadium?

We've mentioned it before, and we'll go there again, if you don't mind. While the Statue for Sandy campaign originated here in 2004, the idea for Vinny's bronze comes from a T.J. Simers column, written in 2008. We concurred, and the result was the Statue for Vinny e-petition, posted the same day. Please read or re-read, and let us know your thinking.

And remember, glove conquers all….


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