Dodger Superfan Bryan Cranston Named His Dog After Vin Scully

Photographs: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

Pardon the pun, but Bryan Cranston is about as true blue a Dodger fan as you’re going to find in show biz. The acclaimed actor, now 68, says that Dodgers’ wins and losses materially impact his day-to-day life. In recent years, his fandom has paid a different sort of dividend: Major League Baseball has tapped Cranston to be the voice of several promos, including one previewing the 2024 season.

A week before Opening Day, GQ connected with Cranston to talk a little baseball. The man knows his stuff, and did not hold back when discussing a certain villainous team whose reign of terror has loomed large over MLB for nearly a decade. Before gearing up for another long and winding baseball season, consider heeding some advice from a man who’s seen everything from Sandy Koufax to the invention of the pitch clock.

What would 10-year-old Bryan think about you becoming this quasi-voice of Major League Baseball?

Well, he wouldn’t understand it. He wouldn’t realize that was an actual profession. Ten-year-old Bryan was still thinking it was possible to become a Major League Baseball player. That was the dream, and that should be every little boy and girls’ dream, to dream big! Do the things that you fantasize about doing! As you mature, you start to make adjustments.

Ten-year-old Bryan never, ever, lost his love of baseball. It’s a magnificent game. I’ll say this: last year when they implemented the new rules, I was dubious of it. I am a purist, so I didn’t know if I was going to like it, but I gotta say, it won me over! I think it’s helped the game tremendously.

That being said, I still love the pace of baseball. I love the half-inning breaks. There’s time to go to the bathroom, or talk to a friend. It’s very structured—all the way back to the beginning—to be a social game for the fans. You can engage with your friends and still not miss anything. I’m not a big fan of the domes, though. It feels like it should be outdoors with the night air or the sunshine during the day. That, to me, is the best.

Cranston and John O'Hurley take in a Dodger game in 2016

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Dodgers Game

Cranston and John O'Hurley take in a Dodger game in 2016
Noel Vasquez

I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to the stadium in Houston, but everything feels a little off there. It’s almost like a warehouse.

I don’t care for it. If there’s a team that I’m not happy about, it’s the Houston Astros, because of the scandal. I don’t dislike any other team! I don’t know, I just think that was a swing and a miss there. I think more punishment should have been applied to those players. Knowingly cheating? Depriving the fans of a true, honest game? I am a huge Dodgers fan, and that year also, the Astros beat the Yankees, who had a very good team. They could have advanced to the World Series if not for the cheating Houston Astros. [Note: In 2017, the Astros beat the Dodgers in the World Series, and before that, knocked off the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Those Astros were later revealed to be cheaters.]

The only stadium I will say that I dislike tremendously—and I want to see them change it—is Tampa. It’s a terrible stadium. It looks like a deflated circus tent, and the ball gets caught up in there. It doesn’t feel warm inside. And by the way, the Tampa Bay Rays are a perennially terrific team. They put out a great team! They need a better environment, the fans need a better environment, and I’m motivated to get them a better stadium. I don’t like it at all. Arizona has a nice stadium with a roof, but it’s retractable. When it’s ungodly hot, they close it and pump the air conditioning. I get that. It makes sense. But when it’s nice, open it up. You gotta have that ability.

Can you give me the scouting report on young Cranston? How was your game?

He’s quick. Pretty good defender. Line drive, slap hitter. Finds gaps. Can turn a single into a double. I was right-handed mostly, but later on I taught myself how to be a switch-hitter. I looked at the advantages that switch-hitters have. Sometimes as a right-handed hitter, you’re out at first base by a step and a half. You realize, if you’re in the left-handed batter’s box, that’s the step and a half. So, I started trying it left-handed, and it was working! My batting average went up. I was on base, helping my team, creating momentum. It was fun.

I’ve also been to Dodger fantasy camp twice, and after that, I joined an adult baseball league. Great group of guys. We had enough players for six teams. That’s when I hit my first home run over the fence. I did that left-handed! Crushed it. That was nirvana for me.

You’re also a regular at the Celebrity Softball Game during All-Star week. Whenever I’m watching that, I think about how difficult it’d be to find that balance between showing people you’re actually pretty good, but not wanting to be the guy who’s noticeably trying way harder than everyone else.

I think the thing to avoid in celebrity games is just looking foolish or unathletic. The other thing is not to get hurt. Everybody watching is used to watching Major League Baseball players. There’s a timing in their head. Hit, run, run, run, run, run. Right? When you’re not a professional athlete, and you’re 68 years old, it’s Hit, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run. It takes forever to get down to first base! People in the stands will think you’re slow! But 90 feet is quite a long way to sprint.

Cranston and Bad Bunny at the 2022 Celebrity Softball Game

Did you wake up early to watch the Dodgers play in Korea?

I did not. I taped it, though! On the west coast, the Dodger game in Korea started at 3 am. That is when I’m in my deepest sleep. It would have crushed the rest of my day. I popped it on in the morning with my coffee and thought, This is actually a pretty good way to watch baseball.

How are you feeling about the Dodgers acquiring arguably the most talented baseball player of all time? [Note: This interview was conducted before news broke of Shohei Ohtani’s connection to an alleged gambling scandal.]

That’s an arguable statement, but he is the most valuable player in every sense of the word. There’s been two-way players before, but not at that level. He is a top-line hitter and a top-line pitcher. That just hasn’t happened before. Usually you get to the point in the minor leagues where they say, “You’re a better pitcher than you are a hitter, let’s lean toward that.” Shohei is a unicorn, an usual talent, as they say, a generational talent. I’m glad we have him!

He wanted to be a Dodger and now he is a Dodger for the rest of his career, hopefully. The Dodgers are great at figuring out how to take advantage of the players they have and the communities they belong to. Whether it’s Hispanic, Japanese, Korean, wherever the player happens to be from, they do a great job with that. Fernando Mania was a real thing. We were crazy about Fernando Valenzuela. It stimulated the culture. I think the same will be true for Shohei here. The Japanese contingent will be coming out, the Japanese residents of Los Angeles will be inspired by it, and that’ll expand. It makes the world a little bit smaller, which is terrific.

I’m excited about the prospect, but it does create a tremendous amount of expectation for how they perform. When you’re thinking of playoff sports, it basically comes down to two things. Who’s getting hot at the right time, and who’s the healthiest? That’s it! It doesn’t really matter that much what happened throughout the season.

When the Dodgers lose in the playoffs, are you able to chalk it up to that? The other team was hotter, or the other team was healthier. Or are you really wearing those losses no matter what?

I definitely wear it. If you’re a true fan, you do wear it. I will go as far as saying that even during the regular season, if the Dodgers won that day, I’m a little happier. There’s a little bounce. If the Dodgers lost that day, I’m a little down. It’s like, hmph. It’s like someone gave you a little smack. It won’t ruin everything. But it’s not as good of a day.

So, when it comes to playoffs, it’s tough when they lose. You should feel a little ping of pain! I’ve become the ping of pain! I think any true fan feels the pain of a loss—not as much as the players, because they’re in it—but we’re connected tangentially. Then you process, work through it. Sure, you can intellectualize it. We had a week off and Arizona was hot at the time, they were healthier than us. You can do all that talk. But you lost! That’s the bottom line. Nobody wants to be in that position.

That’s the sense of competition that I think we should always maintain. I think competition is very healthy. It gives us drive and motivation. As long as you keep that healthy and don’t let it get out of control. You know, I’ve played golf with people where they have a couple bad drives and break their club over their leg. No. I don’t want to be around that. That’s too far.

Well with baseball it’s like, We’ve got 160 more of these. We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.

And that’s the thing that helps you overcome it! We shoulda won that game…okay. Move on. It does take a little bit.

Being in the entertainment industry, and also being an LA lifer, I’m sure you’ve encountered a lot of Dodger fans. We always see Mary Hart sitting behind home plate at Dodger Stadium. Jason Bateman is a known Dodger guy.

Bateman is also a native like me. It’s in our blood. We’ve been a part of Dodger baseball for decades. Koufax and Drysdale in the ‘60s, Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey in the ‘70s, Kurt Gibson in the ‘80s, then it was dry for a long time until 2020. Winning with that team, which was a great team, but then you gotta say goodbye to some players like [Corey] Seager, Justin Turner, that was tough. But that’s life, too. You have to live through it. You can’t hold on to it, and you don’t want to live in a memory.

Enjoy the moment and how great it is right here, right now. Experience it, and then let it go. I’m pretty good at that. I’m thinking about the future, you know? The time right now, being here and being present, then the future. Living in the past, by nature, is not progressive. It’s not moving forward, and that kind of gets you stuck and melancholy when you’re reminiscing.

Are your fellow actors like that as well, or have you seen some people blow up after a 5-2 loss to Cincinnati, so to speak?

[laughs] There are some people like that. In my business, if they blow a line, they get so angry with themselves that it only tightens everything up. You want to go the opposite way. Relax. Don’t clench and hold on to something. Move on!

You see it with athletes. Athletes can tighten, or remember what happened in their last at-bat. They’re swinging a little wilder. You’re going, Uh-oh. There’s something going on there. That’s not their usual at-bat. Look at Cody Bellinger. His last couple years with the Dodgers, he was terrible. He wasn’t the same player. I can only think it was psychological. So, the best thing for Cody was to leave. Fresh start. He’s been terrific with the Cubs! I wish him well, you know? He had to find a pathway—like every athlete does, or every actor does—and find out what works for them.


I assume you also had the pleasure of interacting with Vin Scully. Was that like meeting Santa Claus?

Exactly. For one of our anniversaries, my wife set up this present. We were going to the game. I knew that. But I’m just following and walking through the stadium. I’m going, This is the press box! I’ve been here before! Then I started thinking about it. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. That’s when I met Vin Scully for the first time. It was 12 years ago or so. He’s the loveliest, most generous guy. I think the last time I met him was a few years ago when he won a lifetime achievement award at the ESPYs and I presented it to him. I have a picture of the two of us in my office. I will always remember him.

He was the most consistent thing in my life, when you think about it. I had a challenging childhood. It was not great in many ways. But any time I listened to Dodger baseball and heard his voice, for at least those three hours, you felt safe. You felt like you were in good hands and were going to be taken care of. He’d take you away with his voice and his stories, and you could be distracted from your troubles. Growing up with that, from the time I was first listening at five years old to just a few years ago when he retired, he was the consistent. He was everything to me.

I wrote when he passed away that a piece of my childhood died that day. He’s so revered in my memories that I named my dog after him! His name is Vin Scully. They still use his voice at Dodger Stadium. [does a Vin Scully impression] It’s tiiime for Dodger baaaseballl. I get chills. He will always be important to me. Thanks for bringing him up.

Originally Appeared on GQ