It’s time to call ’em as I see ’em, sports fans. To be honest, I stole that tagline from the late Gil Stratton who was a then KNXT-TV (now KCBS-TV) sports reporter and the voice of the L.A. Rams. (In the pre-historic times when L.A. actually had an NFL team.)

Stratton was working at Channel 2 when the Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958. In fact, he was part of the groundbreaking newscast that, at various times, featured Clete Roberts, Jerry Dunphy, Bill Stout, Bill Keene and Ralph Story. (At 19 I interviewed at KNXT-TV to be a writer for the legendary Story and if you look closely you can still see bits of his style in my writing all these years later.)

In 1957 Stratton boldly reported on “the highest authority that the Dodgers will not be moving to L.A.” He was so positive that he told his KNXT viewers that if the Dodgers moved here he’d jump off the end of the Santa Monica pier.

With the move the Dodgers made L.A. an important city nationally as opposed to a place where they make movies and grow oranges. It might be hard to believe that a major league baseball team could have such an impact but the Dodgers’ arrival really did.

And true to his word, Gil jumped off the pier. (Today that would be illegal.) In any event, in my youth I loved Gil, R.I.P. and I loved his “Call ’em as I see ’em” tagline.

As I write this the Dodgers are back in the MLB playoffs with the opening game of the best of five Division Series with the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium this Friday. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s been 25 years (and counting) since the Dodgers were last in the World Series.

Way back in 1988 Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson led the Dodgers over the Oakland A’s. This quarter-century drought is both a L.A. Dodger and Brooklyn Dodger record for futility that hopefully will be broken over the next few weeks. (Fingers crossed which would explain any typos.)

This October marks only the 4th time since the Angels were founded in 1961 that both the Dodgers and the Halos have been in the playoffs at the same time. In 2004, both lost in their Division Series. In 2008, the Angels lost to Boston in the Division Series while the Dodgers swept the Cubs only to lose to the Phillies in the National League Championship Series.

In the 2009 playoffs, the Angels lost the ALCS to the Yankees while the Dodgers lost their series to the Phillies once again. (Grr.) This year each team features an MVP candidate.

The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, the only pitcher in history to win four straight ERA titles, is favored to win his 3rd Cy Young Award. He’s also very likely to win the league’s MVP, something a pitcher hasn’t done since 1968 when the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson won the honor.

Kershaw, who’s only 26, is a certain Hall of Famer, assuming, health permitting, he pitches for three more years, or the requisite 10 to be on the HOF ballot. Actually, at the rate he’s going, Kershaw could wind up having his number retired by the Dodgers, he’s that dominant.

Deservedly, in January Kershaw signed a 7-year contract worth $215,000,000. Put another way, in one game he earns more money than Sandy Koufax did in his entire career. And at that, Kershaw’s almost a bargain. Go figure.

While only in his 3rd year, the Angels also have a future Hall of Famer in Mike Trout (who’s only 23!) and is favored to win the American League MVP. Reportedly the Angels’ scouting report on Trout contained only two words…Mickey Mantle!

While both teams drew over 3,000,000 fans, both also have humongous payrolls. The Dodgers lead everybody with $235,295,219 while the Angels’ are 6th with $155,692,000. If you’re looking for financial underdogs, however, the Pirates’ payroll is $78,000,000 while the A’s is $83,000,000.

If all goes well, the Angels and Dodgers could battle in a “Freeway World Series.” Then again in the Bay area the Giants and A’s could compete in the “Bart Series,” while in D.C. the Orioles and the Nationals could tangle in the “Washington Parkway Series.”

Well, sports fans, my time is up as I tried to call ’em as I saw ’em. If you’re so inclined, Gil Stratton is on YouTube in the movie “Stalag 17” but unfortunately not for his sports reports. He was also in “The Wild One” with Marlon Brando and numerous other movies.

As for my Dodgers, if they don’t make the World Series, I’ll be severely depressed. I’d consider jumping off the pier except we’ve established it’s probably illegal. And, besides, Gil already beat me to it.

 

Jack also writes “Laughing Matters,” which appears every Friday. When he isn’t too busy agonizing over his sports teams, he can be reached atfacebook.com/jackneworth,twitter.com/jackneworthorjnsmdp@aol.com.

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