LOS ANGELES -- Vin Scully was wrong.
It seems almost blasphemous to say that about the man who has narrated some of the greatest moments in baseball history over the past six decades.
If Scully told me the sky was green and the grass was blue, I would believe him and get my eyes checked in the morning.
But on Wednesday, as he reluctantly, but graciously, sat down to discuss his decision to return as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for a 66th season next year, he was wrong.
"Let's face it, I don't think people are going to miss me," Scully said. "There might be a year where it seems a little strange not hearing so-and-so; even the name might slowly disappear. That doesn't bother me at all."
It shouldn't bother Scully because it's not true. While his modesty and humble disposition have always been refreshing, whenever he retires, he will take with him the voice of not only the Dodgers, but Los Angeles.
Scully gets uncomfortable when he is showered with praise. He was slightly embarrassed by the way his return next season was announced on the big screen at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night with a skit involving Hyun-Jin Ryu, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner. He said a line at the bottom of that night's game notes would have sufficed.
"I saw the Dodgers continue without Red Barber," Scully said. "I saw the Yankees roll along without Mel Allen. I saw the Cardinals go without Jack Buck, I saw the Cubs go without Harry Caray, and they don't miss a beat. I'm not fooling myself. The Dodgers will roll right along merrily whether I'm here or not."
The Dodgers will be forced to roll along whenever Scully does retire, but the games will never be the same. With all due respect to the announcers Scully mentioned, no announcer has ever meant more to the team he works for than Scully. Three generations of Dodgers fans have grown up with Scully gracefully painting a picture of Blue Heaven. He is the string that ties Dodgers fans from the 1950s to the kids playing with Scully microphones that were handed out to fans Tuesday.
Sadly, that string has already been cut for most of Los Angeles this season. About 70 percent of Los Angeles is unable to get SportsNet L.A., the new Time Warner Cable regional sports network that broadcasts Dodgers games. That not only means that 70 percent of fans can't watch a Dodgers team that has the best record in the National League, but they can't listen to Scully on TV for nine innings.
"It's heartbreaking not to be able to share with everybody in the entire community," Scully said. "I'm hoping it will be resolved quickly, but whether it will be or not, I don't have the slightest idea."
There are those who will say you can listen to Scully for the first three innings of games on the radio before he hands the rest of the game off to Rick Monday and Charlie Steiner and goes exclusively to television, or suggest searching for illegal live streams of Dodgers games online. The thought of listening to only the first third of your favorite song or being forced to illegally find it every time you want to hear it only drives home how absurd the dispute is.
The voice of Los Angeles has been silenced this season, and it would be a shame if it stretched into next season, which could be Scully's last. While Scully blushes at the sight of fans wearing shirts with his picture or jerseys with his name on the back, he understands the connection he has developed with Dodgers fans over the past 65 years.
"Every time they've turned on the radio since 1958, there I was jabbering away," Scully said. "After all those years, like an old pair of slippers, it would be strange, I guess, not to hear this voice."
It's more than strange. It's not right. There are always two sides to every dispute, but if Scully ends his career next season with just more than a quarter of Los Angeles able to listen to his final games, it will be the biggest blemish in the history of one of the sport's proudest franchises.
Scully, of course, takes himself out of the equation when talking about his hope for the Dodgers to once again be available in the homes of fans in Los Angeles. In his eyes, as wrong as he might be, he's not the draw, just a fortunate spectator behind a microphone.
"In all honesty, I don't ever feel I've done anything," Scully said. "Somebody will say, 'You've broadcast 19 no-hitters and three perfect games' and I think, 'I just happen to be there. It's not something I can take any pride in.' I am humbled for being given the honor of working the game all these years. It's a long time to be working at one job with no advancement. I've stayed the same for 65 years. I'm really overwhelmed with the fact that I've been so fortunate. God has blessed me beyond any imagination."
As he continues in the twilight of his career, Scully admits he might not be the same broadcaster he was 30 or so years ago when he was, amazingly, at the midpoint of his career. Maybe the stories don't come as easily as they once did and the witty remarks are a second or two late, but on most nights, he's the only one who notices as he critiques himself on his drive home.
"I think maybe I was quicker in coming up with an occasional good thought as I am now," Scully said. "Once in a while I'll blunder into a good line. It has to come from nowhere. I don't prepare speeches. I want to be as honest as possible. Once in a while I'll say something that has an impact, like after Kirk Gibson's home run [in the 1988 World Series] or Henry Aaron's home run [to break the career record in 1974] and you think, 'Well, that was pretty good,' but there are a lot of times I drive home saying, 'Dummy, why didn't you say what you're thinking of right now?'"
When Scully sat down to consider his future earlier this season, it wasn't so much the players and the game that pulled at his heart, but the faces he has seen every day in the press box for nearly 35 years. He singled out elevator operator Marie Meza, who always greets Scully on his way up to Level 5, and press box attendants Robert Allen and James Mims, who are the first faces he sees when he walks into the Vin Scully Press Box before every game.
"It's going to be so difficult to say goodbye," Scully said. "I won't be just saying goodbye to doing the game. I'll be saying goodbye because I won't be back. I guarantee you. I might come back once if someone invites me, but when I hang it up, that will be that. It's awfully hard."
It has already been awfully hard this season for Dodgers fans who can't hear Scully call games for the first time in their lives. It's an odd reality they aren't ready to accept yet. They, like most of Los Angeles, are hoping to get a chance to hear him again and say goodbye before he eventually does.