That's a good question. Because of that experience of doing 40 games with the Angels in 1985. My wife [Barbara] used to say back then, "Why didn't you do more games? When you're not doing the games, you're sitting with your scorebook in the living room, watching the games, keeping score, reading the papers, doing your notes. You might as well be up there doing the games and getting paid for it." And she was absolutely right. One lesson I learned that was brought home very vividly for me is that baseball is such an intimate, daily game, with its own rhythm. It's relentless. Win or lose, you got to get up the next morning and there's another game. As an announcer, if you don't do those games, there are big gaps in your information base. What I found in coming back to baseball, unlike every other sport, is that you call baseball out of your memory. I've been away so long, I don't have a lot of books in my library. When I listen to Vin Scully or Jon Miller and I hear them say, "That reminds me of a play here three years ago," well, I don't have that memory. The fortunate part about baseball is that in the 32 years since I was working fulltime for the Angels, the game hasn't changed. All the players have changed, all the stadiums have changed, and that's an adjustment. It's learning all new names. Some of them are the sons of the guys I called before, another generation. Gradually, what I'm doing during the course of this season is putting books back in my library. And I can't build the library if I don't do all the games that I can.
What makes baseball the best announcer game?
In basketball, the play carries you. Football is designed for the analyst: You call the play, the analyst comes in. Baseball, because of the pace of the game, allows you to reflect on its history, its humor, the personalities. It may be Jerry Hairston Jr. today, but his play reminds me of [former Angel] Rudy Meoli 30 years ago.
How did you feel about giving up the other sports to return to baseball?
When I ruminated over what this move meant, I realized I couldn't do college basketball since it runs into spring training, and that's where you get all your stories in baseball. College basketball was my entree to the networks, so romantically, that was a tough one to wave goodbye to. Baseball goes into football season, how could I do the NFL? Tennis, I had to give up the French Open in Paris, and that was tough. My wife and I are Francophiles. Ultimately, I asked myself, if the networks all say we'll get somebody else to do the other sports, would I still sign the contract to do just baseball? And the answer was yes. When I made that decision, I was happy. I can't tell you, at my age, how exciting it still is for me to walk into a baseball stadium and go to a broadcast booth. I love coming to the ballpark.
What's it been like covering the Padres, maybe the biggest surprise in baseball this season?
It's been magical. Beyond comprehension. This is a team that no one — no one — picked to finish any higher than fourth place in the West. We were just that team struggling along, trying to find their way. The beauty of the team is the chemistry. We don't have any superstars. [Adrian] Gonzalez is a superstar, but he doesn't take himself as one. My favorite baseball expression is: "I'll pick him up for you." Whether it's your family, your neighborhood, your business, whatever, you care enough about the people around you that when they don't do well, you support them and pick them up. [Padres reserve] Matt Stairs says that's the kind of clubhouse it is. Everybody's pulling for everybody else, and that's really rare. You can't put a price tag on it. Look at the results. It makes no sense otherwise. [All-Star closer] Heath Bell, maybe the most vocal guy on the team, said in spring training, when everyone was talking about the end of July and wondering where he and Gonzalez would be playing: "What if we're so good that they can't trade us?" He was right. It's been a dream. They find a way to win, and they don't beat themselves. They pull for each other, they pick each other up. And of course, the pitching and defense. One of the great stats is that they're second in the league in hitting with runners in scoring position. And the feeling is, get to the seventh inning, you have a one-run lead, the game's ours. That bullpen is so good.
What ballparks have you visited this season that really jumped out as being great?