A Very Pleasant G'Day To You (Wherever You May Be)
March 24, 2014

It's one o'clock on Saturday morning California time, and I power up my computer, anxiously awaiting the official start of the baseball season. After several clicks, I've connected to the Dodger pregame show and the familiar tones of Charley Steiner and Rick Monday. It turns out the game isn't going to start until almost two, which is fine. But just before the first pitch, much to my surprise and delight, I heard Steiner say, ďand now for the play by play, here's Vin Scully.Ē

I'm sure it was in the papers that the greatest broadcaster in the sport's history made the 15-hour flight from Phoenix, or perhaps met the team there, flying in from Los Angeles, but I missed it. I mean Scully doesn't even go to Denver anymore, let alone Sydney. A few years ago, the Dodgers opened the season in Milwaukee, and Vinny made the trip. I thought that was a huge deal.

As I was listening to the one-hour pregame show, the closer it got to start time, I kept wondering why I was still hearing Steiner. He moves over to TV when Scully is absent, so I was trying to imagine what was going on television. I figured maybe Jerry Hairston Junior and Nomar Garciaparra were blabbering on and on in the studio. Not once did the scenario enter my mind that Scully was there.

In the three innings that radio listeners get to hear him, never once did he mention that he has his picture taken with a koala bear (which later I found out was all over Twitter), or that he had visited the continent before. He did get in a couple of references to the Sydney Opera House and some of the city's other legendary landmarks. He was quoted in an earlier article, which I didn't see until later, that when asked if he wanted to make the trip, he jumped at the chance.

Scully regaled us with stories about the Sydney Cricket Ground, and its Churchill Downs-like look. One of the old-time sections of stands was just for ladies and the other just for men (The 1-1 pitch, fouled off, now the count is 1-2). Then he would talk about the time Babe Ruth met Australia's most famous cricket player, who convinced the Bambino to take a few swings. Of course, true or not, legend has it that Ruth hit the ball pretty far.

The Dodgers won that 2am game 3-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Clayton Kershaw, who had a lousy spring, pitched well and got the win. The late-inning relievers all sounded impressive, but the offense was lacking. In the second game, which started at 7pm Saturday night in California, and 1pm Sunday afternoon in Sydney, should have been a blowout. The Dodgers led 7-0, and held on to win 7-5, after a ton of walks issued by relief pitchers such as Chris Withrow, Jose Dominguez, Paco Rodriguez, and J.P. Howell. Up 7-2, manager Don Mattingly brought in closer Kenley Jansen with two runners on base. Wanting to throw strikes and get the game over with, Jansen threw one right down the middle (or so it sounded) to Mark Trumbo who clobbered a three-run homer. He then struck out Gerardo Parra to end the game.

The Dodgers are 2-0, have the best record in baseball, made the Australia trip a success, and had the best in the business in Scully there with them. Yes indeed, it's time for Dodger baseball!

Sorry Charley: I don't know if I've written this before or not, but when the ball is actually in play, Steiner really isn't very good. I don't think he sees well, plus he can't seem t get the words out. When Yasiel Puig got into a rundown play, and was subsequently thrown out in game two, you had no idea what was going on. Steiner seems to be a good storyteller, but he also clearly didn't do enough homework for this trip. He seemed to know five things about Australia, and repeated them over and over again. Yes, we are now well aware that baseball was first brought down under by Albert Spalding, and that the Sydney Cricket Ground was built long before the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (which eventually became the Dodgers) even existed. Steiner also kept telling us what time it was in Sydney, which is fine, but would then tell us what time it was in Los Angeles. The vast majority of people listening were in the Pacific Time zoneóno need for us to look at our watches.

The devil's in the details: Television might have been different, but another thing that would have added greatly to the broadcast, is if we were told what the crowd was doing, or anything about the pregame festivities. I did hear Scully say that the folks ooed and awed every time the ball was hit in the air. He also mentioned that they sold a two-foot long hot dog that cost about forty dollars. I didn't hear anything, though, about any fan reaction, or what was done before and after the games. Would have been a nice touch.

Back to normal: I mentioned last week, that there is a webcam where you can view the stadium. If you check out, then click webcams, then SCG Webcam now, you'll see they've already taken down the outfield wall, and it looks like they have flooded the infield. They are preparing the stadium for a big rugby watch, coming up in a couple of weeks.

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