Over the last month and a half, we’ve chronicled the saga of NESN and Boston Red Sox play-by-play man Don Orsillo whose contract was not renewed in August, was left to twist in the wind by the network, and then got a new gig as the eventual successor to Dick Enberg in San Diego.
While Orsillo was able to leave, the next question was what would happen to his on-air partner, Jerry Remy. A long-time member of the Red Sox organization dating back to when he was a second baseman in the late 1970’s until becoming a TV analyst 28 years ago, Remy has become quite popular with fans, sometimes even more so than his play-by-play partners which have included Orsillo and Sean McDonough.
Well, NESN has announced that Remy will return in 2016 on a reduced schedule. He’ll work at least 100 games with new play-by-play man Dave O’Brien who comes over from the radio booth. That is down from the 130-150 games (133 this past season) that he has worked in the past.
In addition to announcing Remy’s return, NESN has unveiled plans to make Dennis Eckersley and Steve Lyons as regular game analysts. The kicker is that not only will there be a rotation of three analysts, NESN plans to have two of them in the booth at one time during select games. So there will be different combinations of Eckersley, Lyons and Remy working together with O’Brien during the season.
Perhaps this is what Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner meant when he said the Red Sox television broadcasts needed to be “upgraded.”
Whatever the reason, a three man booth is hardly an upgrade. We’ve seen how ESPN, Fox and TBS have used them over the years with mixed success. Sometimes they work and other times, they seem to be overkill with everyone trying to get a word in edgewise.
In the official NESN announcement, network president and CEO Sean McGrail appears excited over the move:
“We’re very excited about our expanded broadcast booth composition for next year,” said Sean McGrail, NESN President and CEO. “This will be the most in-depth and dynamic line-up we’ve ever had in our history, providing Red Sox fans a greater diversity of perspective and analysis,” he added.
Red Sox fans made it known that they were not in any desire to have “a greater diversity of perspective and analysis” through petitions, signs and a massive outpouring of support for Orsillo that led to an emotional farewell on the final day of the season.
At least Remy will return next season giving fans a bridge from the Orsillo years into a new era of broadcasting for the Red Sox. Will it work? Time will tell. But for now, at least one-half of the popular Orsillo-Remy team will be back and whether the new broadcasts can recreate some of the magic from the last ten seasons is anyone’s guess.