The MLB Network's Vin Scully retrospective Monday night intensified the sadness of this year without baseball.
With fulsome commentary by Bob Costas and Tom Verducci, the TV special replayed Scully's famous calls during his 67-year career announcing Dodgers games and the World Series on national radio and TV.
As players and owners escalated their dispute over returning from the coronavirus shutdown, Scully's narratives revealed the former national pastime as a relic of the past.
Baseball's impasse worsens while the NBA, the NHL, soccer, the PGA, the NFL and college football head back to play. The confrontation recalls former labor breakdowns that wrecked baseball's popularity.
When Scully as a 25-year-old described Yankees pitcher Don Larsen's perfect game over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series, baseball stood atop the sports landscape. As the NFL and the NBA rose in popularity, baseball squandered its national appeal with slower play, drug scandals and disastrous labor disputes. Now, with fans hungry for sports after the pandemic shutdown, baseball once again rushes toward disaster.
After the pandemic scuttled opening day, major league baseball dreamed of making a dramatic return on July 4 and playing an 80-game season.But the disagreement over player salary cuts, TV contracts and free-agent signings has jeopardized the game's return.
Scully's narratives of Larsen's masterpiece, Henry Aaron's breaking Babe Ruth's home run record, Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965 and Kirk Gibson's dramatic home run in the 1988 World Series evoke moments when baseball captured the national imagination. As baseball's nuclear standoff worsens, those broadcasts seem like museum pieces of a game whose time has gone.
AJC columnist Mark Bradley on Tuesday expressed hope that the players and owners will somehow muddle to an agreement for a truncated season and playoffs. Bradley cited ESPN baseball reporter Tim Kurjian's pessimism over whether baseball will return.
Scully's career tracked the decline of baseball's popularity. A lost season will be the last out for the game.
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