In 1958, two teams ventured out of the East and settled on the West Coast, the Giants of the National League in San Francisco and the same league’s Dodgers who settled into Los Angeles. Along with the Bums came their announcer, Vince Scully. And from that date, just 14 years after the Invasion of Normandy, baseball and the West settled into a love affair that has lasted for over a half a Century.
Baseball is played out West and of the eight teams West of the Pecos, four of them have .500 or better records this season, with one team a game under .500. But in the Senior Circuit, three are above .500 including the two originals. They play baseball out in the West.
For many, fans have long gone to bed when the West Cost games begin and end. It’s as if they don’t really exist in the East until those teams have to travel to the left coast. And when they get there, throw those team’s records out. This is the land of pitching. If you are in Seattle, the King resides up there and you don’t want to face the King. In San Francisco, it’s the home of Madison and Timmy. Down in LaLa, Clayton and Greinke rule. Further South, just North of North Island, James and then Kimbrel reside. In other words, when you go out West, young man, you better bring your hitting shoes.
On Saturday night, there was a game that proved this point. Both starting pitchers, Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, fired bullets. At one time during the game, Kershaw and Garcia had 0-2 pitch counts on 18 batters, 10 of those by Kershaw. With that kind of pitching, there is a good chance you will not get a good pitch to hit. And in fact, only the right fielder, Grichuk, got a single hit off of Dodger pitching on the evening. Garcia, beginning the bottom of the Seventh inning, had only thrown 77 pitches. But in the next five pitches, he gave up a double down the third base line which eluded the third baseman who moved over from Second base after the original third baseman, Carpenter, was hit earlier in the game and had to leave. Then, Kozma’s replacement at second, Wong, couldn’t handle a hot line drive which drove in the second run (this was after Puig had driven in the first with a double to the gap in right center). A game of inches? Yes. A game of what ifs? Yes. In five pitches the game was over. Garcia only threw 87 pitches in his outing, good enough to win most games, but in three games this year, the Cardinals haven’t scored any runs for him.
Throughout all of this, Vin Scully gave us all a delightful presentation of the game along with a history lesson on why this date is so important to Americans.
As Vin Scully told the story that wrapped in and out of pitches, in the Ninth Inning as the Dodgers were putting away the Cardinals and shutting the out, 2-0, he weaved his magic as he said, “a young man who waded ashore in Normandy on this date 71 years ago who was to become a great American writer…he pops up to the catcher for the second out…who had the first six chapters of his novel stuffed in his back pocket…and another guy who is trying to get noticed in the game…and the young man on that fateful day who was in the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division on Utah Beach was JD Salinger…a roller down the third base line, foul….and the great American novel was ‘A Catcher In The Rye’. ‘Poor guy’…now 1-2 on Matt Holiday who fouls it off again….who can ever forget Holden Caulfield…fast ball got him looking. Do us all a favor…please tell your children and grandchildren what June 6th is all about. 12 Cardinals strike out tonight and the Dodgers remain in first place, a half a game in front of the San Francisco Giants. Good night, everybody.”
And only those of us on the West Coast could hear this fascinating melding of a sporting event in the time of our lives, on a day with a Triple Crown winner became the 12th ever to accomplish that feat, and on a date with destiny that changed the world forever so many years ago.
For those of you back East, you missed one of the greatest story telling blendings in history by a Master of the Art who ventured West fifty-seven years ago. Good night, Vin.
Can’t wait until Sunday. He is the Gold Standard.
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