I had one of those busy nights last Tuesday. I was shuttling my kids, my Mom & Tia around from nightfall on. The next to next to last stop was to pick up a friend on our way to a funeral home for the father of a mutual friend. We arrived at the funeral home around 9:30, paid our respects and engaged in the type of conversations which make you question why we allow petty concerns to dictate so much of our ‘regular’ lives. The conversations can be predictable and yet still cathartic. The seriousness of the moment permits us to outwardly show appreciation towards friends and inwardly entertain big and serious thoughts.
In one of those traditions which ‘we should begin if it didn’t exist,’ the funeral home visit was followed by a stop at a restaurant with friends. By law, the restaurant must serve Cuban coffee, in this case, La Carreta. I skipped the coffee–I said the restaurant had to ‘serve’ the coffee, not that you had to have it–and waddled straight to the flan–staying above 30% body fat is not a hobby for the feint of heart. However, that is not what I meant to write about.
Tuesday night was the night of the exciting Team USA win over Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. After the game, a moving story unfolded as a handicapped U.S. Army veteran–Felix Perez–was brought into the U.S. clubhouse by the usher of the century, Brian Finnegan. Perez was treated, very appropriately, like a hero. However, even that is not what I meant to write.
I listened to the WBC game intermittently on the car radio, catching the entire 9th inning rally on the way home. A local station picked up the ESPN televised broadcast. The play by play guy on the broadcast is very familiar to Miami sports fans. Jon “Boog” Sciambi was part of the Marlins radio network from 1997 to 2004 and for a while hosted a mid-day radio show here. He was a bright guy who knew his stats and could never bring himself to do the typical sports radio thing, i.e. yelling at callers. When someone would try and bait him, he would offer to fight them on their home lawns. I was a fan. Currently, aside from ESPN, Sciambi is part of the Atlanta Braves broadcast team.
Sciambi made my favorite sports ‘call’ ever. The odd part is that I did not even hear his call live, if that makes any sense. He was part of the radio broadcast and I only heard his call on the DVD of the Marlins 2003 playoff run. The thing is that the DVD served as a reliable lullaby for my kids, so I heard it often. The call described Mike Mordecai’s second at bat in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS against the Chicago Cubs. It would be hard to describe the absolutely unbelievable turn of events represented by an inning which started with a dominant Mark Prior [as a former Dodger fan, I was having Miamian Steve Carlton  flashbacks during the game] retiring Mike Mordecai to start the inning. That seven runs later Mordecai would be standing on second base still amazes me. Sciambi’s call captured the incredulity of it all.
Sciambi’s call of the WBC game mixed in easily with discussing the home run controversy the previous night and other topics. When Rollins got on base, he lead Buck Martinez into a discussion about the strategy in those situations and highlighted just how good Rollins is in that department. Good stuff for us baseball fans. As I listened to Sciambi, I was reminded of what approaches. The baseball season. Following baseball in Miami in the early 1970’s meant listening to the Braves on WKAT. A lifelong (hopefully) habit was born. So goodbye audiobooks burned to CD’s, MLB is back. Soon, seemingly every time I get in the car at night, there will be baseball, and in the case of the Mets, hopefully their blood.