Friday, April 08, 2016

Our Beloved Dodgers and Other Myths

I’m getting to the age where sometimes I don’t remember so good.

I can’t find my car keys. I misplaced my other shoe. My glasses are here somewhere.

I even forgot two noteworthy events this past week that are part of the fabric of our lives. There was a third but I can’t remember what it was.

So let me catch up on the opening day of baseball season. And April Fools Day.

I’m not surprised the start of baseball season crept up on me.  The Dodgers are dead to me, the result of a TV blackout that is entering a third year.

They are now officially out of sight, out of mind.

All thanks to Time Warner, a bumbling cable company that paid way too much ($8.35 billion) for broadcast rights and now can’t sell the telecasts to other outlets, and the Dodger owners who refuse to re-do the deal. There is no buyer’s remorse in corporate America.

I guess I could follow the Angels but their announcers are such unrepentant homers that they make my teeth hurt.

The worst of this is that they have silenced Vin Scully, a national treasure who is embarking on his 67th --- and final --- year as the team’s announcer.

It’s unthinkable, unconscionable and un-American.

When Scully’s voice poured out over Los Angeles, it meant spring was here. It was time to get the lawn furniture out, fix a cool drink and spend the summer listening to the drama unfold as only a master story teller could describe it. 

In the early days, when you went to Dodger Stadium, nearly everyone had a transistor radio tuned to Scully and his voice reverberated from the outfield pavilion to home plate. We could see what was happening but it seemed we needed Scully to validate what we witnessed.

It is Scully who said, "He (Bob Gibson) pitches as though he's double-parked." 

It is Scully who described pitcher Tom Glavine as being "like a tailor; a little off here, a little off there and you're done, take a seat." 

It is Scully who said, "It's a mere moment in a man's life between the All-Star Game and an old timer's game." 

To complete the indignity, you can still hear Scully on radio.  But only for three innings.  After that, he is only heard on a cable TV outlet that 70 per cent of us can’t get.

That’s like reading just three chapters of a great novel.  Or silencing Caruso after the first act of “Pagliacci.”

He never backhanded a line drive or doubled off the center field wall but no Dodger brought more joy to Mudville than Vincent Edward Scully.

For this, he’s rewarded by signing off in obscurity.

April Fools Day can be treacherous for those in the news biz. The internet is filled with fabrications and half-truths, often created by a bunch of goofballs who think a sham is satire.

Who started this, anyway?  My favorite historical explanation says that it dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563.

People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

It was so hilarious it has lasted more than 400 years.

Here is a sampling of this year’s top April Fools stories, some collected by

The restaurant reservation site OpenTable has developed an app that allows users to lick photos of food on their mobile devices to taste them.

The Economist offers statistical proof that ice cream makes you smarter, or at the very least makes you perform better on educational performance tests.

The British Milk Council announced it will begin to sell unicorn milk.  Of course, there is no such thing as the British Milk Council.  And besides, unicorns are notoriously hard to milk.

The Amherst Police Department is introducing "Dusty," their new Narcotics Detection Rabbit. Due to the fact that drug interdiction has become more difficult with criminals discovering ever new and smaller areas to conceal drugs, "Dusty" and his handler will be able to search vehicles and other small areas with greater accuracy, a department spokesperson said.

Burger King will begin offering chicken fries shakes.

The Groupon global e-commerce marketplace offered a (quickly sold out) deal on a new Cat Reader, a product that offers felines a chance to hear great works of literature read to them by other cats.

The National Geographic announced they will stop publishing nude animal pictures.

Starkist’s mascot Charlie the Tuna retires, replaced with Brad the Sawfish.

And last, but not least: Donald Trump's Campaign Revealed to Be a Huge April Fool's Joke.  Which, when you really think about, might be true.

I just remembered the third noteworthy event:  Last Monday was Hug a Newsperson Day. But I forgot if I got any hugs.

Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. His columns can be found at Robert-Rector@Blogspot.Com. Follow him on Twitter at @robertrector1.

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