In case Red Sox fans weren’t incensed enough at the team’s ownership over the ouster of Don Orsillo, they’re about to get a lot angrier. On Saturday, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner offered high praise for O’Brien while simultaneously (and perhaps unwittingly) burying Orsillo.
Here are some of the relevant comments from the Boston Herald.
Werner on adding O’Brien…
“I think when the opportunity to bring Dave aboard came to us, after a lot of thought we decided, you know what, he’s one of the premier broadcasters in the country and we thought he’d be a great addition to the team.”
Werner on O’Brien’s strengths…
“[O’Brien is] well known for bringing out the nuances of baseball strategy, sharing insights about players. It was nothing against Don. It was the opportunity to bring on Dave.”
Werner on parting ways with Orsillo…
“I understand it has created some controversy. And I also understand that Don is a great broadcaster, but we felt that starting next year it was worth going in a different direction reenergizing the broadcast. And when the opportunity presented itself to bring Dave O’Brien to NESN, we just felt after a great deal of thought and consideration that was the right decision to make.”
And here’s NESN president and CEO Sean McGrail on Orsillo’s departure, in which he essentially puts the blame for the backlash on Orsillo…
“It was a miscommunication. We informed Don almost immediately when the decision had been made, within a few days. . . . We thought it would be kept confidential. It wasn’t.”
Also, McGrail spoke about Jerry Remy’s role on the broadcasts in 2016 without offering many details.
“Jerry’s in our plans for next season. He will be on the telecasts. We haven’t finalized that, but he will be involved.”
Let’s recap, shall we?
-Werner feels that NESN and the Red Sox couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add O’Brien to their broadcasts…even though Orsillo had an option on his contract for 2015 that NESN could have declined. They exercised the option last summer, and based on what we know now, they likely only did that because of issues with O’Brien’s contract with ESPN.
-Werner claims there were no issues with Orsillo while listing off some basic strengths about O’Brien, seemingly implying that Orsillo didn’t possess those strengths.
-Werner also claims the broadcasts on NESN lack energy, which is what happens when the team is heading for its third last place finish in four seasons.
-McGrail assumed everyone would have kept quiet about the decision in the nearly two months before it would be officially announced, and then blames the particulars for the news breaking.
-McGrail also refuses to commit to Remy on an every day basis, instead giving the nebulous explanation that “he’ll be involved”, which could mean anything from his current color commentary role to a scaled back studio role.
What a mess. If Werner and McGrail were attempting to help fans feel better about this situation, they’ve failed miserably. Why not just come out and say “Don Orsillo didn’t do enough to sugar coat our awful recent seasons, and we think Dave O’Brien will be better at that”? Oh right, that’s actual honesty, not just a bunch of buzzwords strung together.