What more could go wrong for Red Sox fans? What else can do the Red Sox do to tear the collective heart out of their fans? Is finishing last three out of the last four years not enough?
Apparently not. How about getting rid of one of the few reasons fans have to still tune into the NESN telecasts of the games? Don’t worry, Wally is safe.
The team is awful. It has been for two years now. The team has been horrible for three out of the last four years. Watching Red Sox games has been about as much fun as watching political debates.
Changes needed to be made. Larry Lucchino stepped down as CEO at the beginning of the month. Dave Dombowski joined the team as the head of baseball operations. Ben Cherington quit his general manager job. Manager John Farrell got diagnosed with cancer. Fan favorites Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino were traded.
It’s been a bad year. Whatever happened to every little thing is going to be alright?
With apologies to Bob Marley, every little thing is not going to be alright. Not at all. The last place anyone ever expected the Red Sox to make a change would be in the broadcast booth. Every little thing, right?
Oh, you’re talking about Jerry Remy. That’s not surprising. His son is a murderer, after all, and he has a lot going on in his personal life.
No, no, no. If the Red Sox released a statement saying Remy wasn’t coming back for the 2016 season, that would sadden some fans, but there would be many who would say it is the right decision. An easy argument could be made that Dennis Eckersley is more entertaining, more knowledgeable, and more opinionated.
Instead, the Red Sox shocked Red Sox Nation by announcing earlier this week that Don Orsillo would not be back when his contract expires at the end of this season.
What?!?!? What did Orsillo EVER do to deserve this? NESN ratings are down, but that’s because the team sucks. The only reason people tune in nowadays is to see and hear Don and Jerry.
The Red Sox have made some horrible personnel decisions in the last four years, but this may be the worst one yet. This is not hyperbole, folks. Sure, Orsillo does not hit, pitch, or field. He doesn’t have a uniform number that could one day be retired (but he does have plenty of ties!). He has never hit a home run, struck out a batter, or robbed someone of a home run. He has never even scored a run for the Red Sox in his fifteen years with the organization.
But Red Sox fans know his value to the team. That’s why they tune in to NESN every night even though the Red Sox play, on the field, makes you want to throw things at your TV. But you don’t want to break your TV, because then you might miss Orsillo joking with Remy about his Boston accent (“Aruber,” “Perdroir,” “Tigahs”). Maybe you’ll miss Orsillo’s excited reaction when Remy presents him with a lamp. Maybe you’ll miss Orsillo play dentist and try to put a tooth back in Remy’s mouth.
Anyone who has the MLB Extra Innings baseball package on cable knows that Orsillo and Remy have the best chemistry of any broadcast duo in the league. Sure, Vin Scully is a legend with the Dodgers. Nobody is better than him, even as he approaches 90 years of age. But Scully works alone. Jon Miller is really good with the Giants. Heck, Dave O’Brien, the man who will be relpacing Orsillo next year, may even be an upgrade.
But no one is better than Orsillo and Remy together. They have the perfect blend of professionalism and entertainment. Fans tune in to see when and what will trigger Orsillo’s cackling laugh. Those moments have become classic. One could spend hours searching YouTube and watching hilarious clips of Orsillo and Remy just losing it on the air.
There is the clip of the cameras focusing on a pair of couples sitting in the stands enjoying the game. Just as Remy observes, “Now there are a couple of happy couples, now aren’t they?,” one of the guys reaches across and gropes his girlfriend/wife’s breast. Remy audibly gasps and radio silence follows for a good thirty seconds as you can just imagine Orsillo and Remy rolling on the floor laughing in the broadcast booth. Orsillo tries to hold it together when he returns to the mike, but Remy can still be heard cackling in the background. Orsillo, eventually, breaks down laughing again.
The there was the incident down the left-field line in Fenway where Remy and Orsillo do a Zapruder film-type analysis of a fan throwing a slice of pizza at another fan. Classic.
At the same time, Orsillo can be the ultimate pro. He has called three championship seasons. He was here for the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing ceremonial events. He handled working with a myriad of color analysts when Remy was having his health problems. He also masterfully handled the sensitive and difficult reintegration of Jerry Remy into the broadcast booth following the conviction of Remy’s son, Jared, for murder.
And how is Orsillo rewarded for his loyalty all these years? It is safe to assume that Orsillo had more than a few opportunities to jump to more prominent, high-profile national jobs over the years. But he stayed at NESN. Again, how is he rewarded? By being shown the door and being told not to let it hit you on the way out. It’s just not right.
Orsillo is the only voice a generation of fans who have watched Red Sox games have known. He has been the only TV voice of the Red Sox this century. Think about that. He is still a young man. To put it in baseball terms, he has not lost his fastball. If he wasn’t good, why would TBS choose him to broadcast playoff games?
But this is not the issue. Even the Red Sox know Orsillo is very good at his job. They just think Dave O’Brien is better. And they may be right. But the Red Sox owe their fans more. Orsillo and Remy have been coming into fans’ living rooms for close to two decades. They aren’t like family, they are family. The Red Sox owe fans an explanation (and it better be good).