Baseball is back, thanks to Josh Lewin.
“Suddenly it’s the only game in town,’’ said Lewin, a Solana Beach resident.
Lewin’s voice is familiar and it should be. He called San Diego Chargers games for 12 seasons and he’s spent the last four years tracking UCLA football and basketball.
But his pipes were silenced, somewhat, by the coronavirus. Lewin was prepping for the UCLA-California hoops game at last month’s Pac-12 Conference tournament when the season was canceled.
“Whenever they say, ‘play ball’ again, I’ll be ready to go,’’ he said. “I’m really hoping we can have college football, especially with UCLA playing down here against San Diego State this year.’’
That remains to be seen. What’s easy to predict is that baseball fans will love Lewin’s latest podcast project called, “The Throwback League.”
“I’ve been wanting to do this for 10-12 years,’’ Lewin said. “But I never had time and the bandwidth to do it.’’
Lewin has the hours and technology now to get it up-and-running. And with the baseball season on hold, this former New York Mets and Boston Red Sox play-by-play broadcaster is certainly in his element by providing compelling content.
What Lewin has done is gather the World Series squads from 1974-2006. He put them all together and inputted data into whatifsports.com and analyzed what was spit out.
With the pitch-by-pitch information of what would happen if two of the teams squared off, Lewin recreates the game by supplying his enthusiastic oratorical skills and his own sound effects.
Much like President Ronald Reagan did when broadcasting Cubs games in the 1930s, Lewin is proving to be a great communicator, too. His in-game dialogue is linked to the time and place in which the game was played.
“It’s really a lot of fun,’’ Lewin said. “I get to combine my two passions, which are baseball and pop culture.’’
The podcasts are keen, with pairings of teams and the outcomes, based on algorithms as if the games really happened.
In a recent matchup of solid sinkerball pitchers, the 1998 Padres, with Kevin Brown on the mound, were facing the 1988 Dodgers and Orel Hershiser.
But there’s so much more than the nine innings to give baseball junkies their fix. Lewin’s reputation is such that he can bring in big names, like Bob Costas and Jon Miller, the longtime Giants broadcaster, to contribute on the pre- and post-game shows.
“I’m really proud of it,’’ Lewin said. “Baseball fans that are starved for baseball, I really think they would find it fun.’’
Lewin has already brought smiles via YouTube by doing the play-by-play of anything and everything mundane, from video of someone pulling out of the CVS drug store lot in Solana Beach to calling a race between marbles.
Really, Lewin hasn’t lost his. He’s just attempting to provide levity during a time most Americans are homebound and eager to find anything to quench their sports thirst.
“I’m literally just trying to keep my sanity like everyone else, by keeping busy,’’ Lewin said. “Sports are supposed to be one of our distractions and that pillar has been removed.’’
So Lewin has moved on to calling simulated games and making a game out of the ordinary. On both fronts, he hits it out of the park.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports