Opinion: Decoding Vin Scully


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In Thursday’s Opinion pages, author Jon Winokur pays tribute to Vin Scully, who begins his 62nd season as the Dodgers’ announcer.

Vinny -- the fan intends no disrespect -- is gifted with such powers of description that he is called ‘the poet laureate of baseball.’ But he knows when to keep quiet: He uses crowd noise the way a painter uses negative space, silently letting the energy resonate. He also knows precisely when to start talking again in that genial baritone, speaking just to you.


Winokur also nods his hat to some of Scully’s one-liners, such as: Bob Gibson ‘pitches as though he’s double-parked.’ That’s not all. Click after the jump for the official Vin Scully lexicon.

A modest thing but thine own: A cheap hit. Back, a waay back … it’s gone!: Home run call.

BB: A very good fastball; that is, it looks like a pellet to the batter.

Big butter-and-egg man: A slugger; a batter who reliably delivers with men on base.

Blur: A hard line drive.

That breaks the spell: The hit that ruins a no-hitter.

Bring one with him: Execute a drag bunt.

Celery stalks: The sound of a cracked bat.

Climb the ladder: Jump high to catch a ball.

Counting string: Keeping track of consecutive scoreless innings, hitting streaks, etc.

Deuces wild: Two on, two out, with a 2-and-2 count on the batter; wilder still if the score is also 2-2 or there are two men on base.

Down and dirty: A breaking ball that finishes in the dirt.

Flare: A short pop-up.

Forget it!: Home run call.

From me to you: By a big margin; that is, “He was out from me to you.”

Go quietly: Make three quick outs in an inning.

Hang it: First baseman leads pitcher coming to the bag to make a putout.

In business: In position for a big inning; as in “With men on first and third with nobody out, the Dodgers are in business.”

Little nubber: A soft grounder hit off the end of the bat.

Little roller: A soft grounder along the first- or third-base line.

Major-league popup: A very high fly ball.

Marching and chowder society: The group of friends and family that has come to the game to watch a player; as in ‘The Russ Mitchell marching and chowder society.”

Oh-fer: Hitless so far; that is, zero (‘O’) for three, four, etc.

A Pier 6 brawl: A donnybrook.

A rabbit is loose: A fast runner is on base.

Rearrange the furniture: Reset the defensive alignment.

Room service grounder: The fielder doesn’t have to move to catch it.

Seeing things with their hearts: Describes, say, excessive cheering by the crowd for a routine fly, or booing an umpire for what is actually a good call.

Shuffling his cards: The catcher is reflashing the signs to the pitcher.

Smoke ring: A zero; that is, “Another smoke ring goes up on the scoreboard.”

Soap bubble: Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla’s slow curve.

Standing room only: Bases are loaded.

Stats ‘n’ stories: Scully’s near-endless supply of anecdotes, most of which are better in the retelling.

They’re moving around in the bullpen: A relief pitcher is preparing to warm up.

Wear out: Performing consistently well against another team or pitcher -- ‘Brad Hawpe (George Foster, Jim Ray Hart) just wears out the Dodgers.’

Wrinkle one in: Drop a curveball into the strike zone.

Up jumped the devil!: A familiar and predictable downfall, as when a gopher-ball pitcher allows a home run at the worst possible moment.

Zinzinnati: Cincinnati. After radio comedian Jack Pearl, whose trademark line was ‘Vass you ever in Zinzinnati?’


Op-Ed: Why not rename the L.A. Dodgers the Yang-nas?