Vin Scully died yesterday; he was the broadcast voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers – – and then the LA Dodgers – – from 1950 to 2016. At the start of his career, he was part of a troika of broadcasters hired by the Dodgers for their games; the lead announcer was Red Barber; the two “junior guys” were Scully and Ernie Harwell. All three men are in Cooperstown. Scully had a distinctive voice and a distinctive style for broadcasting. He was equally adept at radio and television which is not often characteristic of play-by-play guys. When he was at his best – in the 1980s and 1990s – I believe he was THE best baseball broadcaster ever.
Rest in peace, Vin Scully…
Staying with baseball, yesterday also saw the Washington Nationals trade Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres for 5 prospects and first baseman, Luke Voit. Oh yeah, the Nats also sent Josh Bell to the Padres in this exchange. Everyone takes it for granted that Soto will be a star player in MLB for the next 10-15 years and some commentators have already begun to pave his way to the Hall of Fame. Juan Soto is a prodigy; he arrived in MLB at the ripe young age of 19 and in that rookie season he hit .292. At age 23, he has already been an All-Star twice. So, what did the Nats get in exchange?
- SS CJ Abrams: Overall #3 pick in 2019 MLB Draft; has not been in an MLB game.
- LHP Mackensie Gore: Overall #6 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Has made 13 starts this year for Padres with a 4.50 ERA. He recently suffered a sore elbow, but MRI did not reveal damage.
- OF Robert Hassell III: Overall #8 pick in 2020 MLB Draft; has not yet been in an MLB game.
- RHP Jarlin Susana: He is 18 years old from the Dominican Republic. He is now playing at the Rookie Level of minor league baseball. [Aside: If he ever makes it to MLB, the broadcasting call for his strikeouts should obviously be, “Oh, Susana!” Now you know why I was never asked to join Vin Scully in a broadcasting booth…]
- OF James Wood: Overall #62 pick in 2nd round of 2021 MLB Draft; has not yet been in an MLB game.
It must be pointed out that the MLB Draft is not nearly as predictable as are the NFL and NBA Drafts – – and even those two drafts involve a bit of a crap shoot. What the Nationals are banking on here is that their scouting reports from 2017-2021 plus the observations of Padres’ scouts over that same period have produced at least a couple of players with star potential. Moreover, the Nationals must hope that if one of those players becomes a star, that player should also be someone who could be a “face of the franchise” because Juan Soto was precisely that.
This makes two consecutive seasons where the Nationals have given away the store in exchange for prospects. The team is a full “tear-down/rebuild” mode and that is a bit dangerous in Washington which is a town of front-runners because given the political presence here the fact is that losers leave town. With the team for sale, I wonder how the prospective buyers will take yesterday’s news and factor it into their price offers for the team.
- Scenario 1: This allows the new owner to come in and start afresh with a new management team and a new team on the field. Success will make the new owner a “good guy” in a town that does not have an overabundance of “good guys”. In addition, it starts the new owner out with a very manageable salary outlay for the first year or so.
- Scenario 2: The current owners have stripped the franchise of its assets. What the new owner is buying is a AAA team along with two burdensome contracts for two pitchers – – Strasburg who cannot stay healthy and Corbin who cannot get out of a fourth inning unscathed anymore. If they wanted to increase the value of the franchise, they should have jettisoned those two guys also.
- Scenario 3: None of this nonsense matters because the new owner is a really rich guy who wants to buy an MLB team as a toy and as a way of flexing on other rich guys who could own an MLB team but do not.
You make the call – – but I have a definite lean toward Scenario 3 above…
There is an adage:
“It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good.”
Well, jettisoning Soto is surely an ill wind for Nats fans but there is a small glimmer of good that came from it. Thomas Boswell came out of retirement to write a column in today’s Washington Post about the trade and the franchise. Boswell has been retired for about a year now but there is little or no rust on his writing skills. When Boswell speaks on the subject ot baseball, the best thing to do is to listen and learn. Do yourself a favor and follow this link to read his perspective today.
Finally, let me close today with a baseball observation by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“San Francisco rookie righty Sean Hjelle, who made his major league debut May 6, stands 6 feet 11.
“Well, they are the Giants.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………