There were many word choices by Red Sox chairman Tom Werner in his only public comments thus far regarding the decision to replace popular NESN play-by-play voice Don Orsillo with ESPN and WEEI’s Dave O’Brien next season.
But in that forum — Steve Buckley’s column last Saturday night on the Boston Herald website — there was one word in particular that practically bounded off the screen, leaving me as bewildered with Werner and NESN’s reasoning as I am with the decision itself. Here’s what Werner said: “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.”
Reenergizing the broadcast? Reenergizing it? I recognize that a vague verb such as reenergize comes in handy as corporate speak for, “We wanted to make a change, Dave O’Brien is great and his contract at WEEI is up, it’s our prerogative, and you and that little petition isn’t going to change our minds.”
What gets me is that a reenergized broadcast is precisely what NESN has had this year. What it hasn’t had, at least until the last few weeks in this long-lost season, is a particularly energized or effective baseball team, which is why ratings dipped in the second half after being the sixth highest in baseball among regional cable networks at the All-Star break.
None of this is on the broadcasters. In fact, I’d argue that Orsillo and Jerry Remy have had their most energized and enjoyable broadcasts in years. That especially applies to Remy, whose status for next year and beyond has been something of an afterthought amid the backlash regarding the graceless split with Orsillo.
If the banter between Orsillo and Remy — a huge reason for the initial growth of their mutual popularity in their 15 years together — had been minimized in recent years, well, there were understandable reasons. Remy had a recurring battle with lung cancer, which took him away from the broadcast booth for various and often extensive lengths of time. In August 2013, Remy’s son, Jared, was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel. He pled guilty in August 2014.
Remy took an immediate leave of absence in 2013 after his son was charged. Upon announcing his decision to return last January during a meeting with a small group of reporters at NESN headquarters, he acknowledged how much the job means to him.
“It’s always been my comfort zone, for 40 years. I can’t sit there. I just can’t sit in my chair [at home],’’ he said. “I’ve been there long enough already. I’ve got to be busy. I’ve got to do something to preoccupy myself. I need to do something I enjoy. And this is what I enjoy doing and I always have . . . I still enjoy it. I’m not crazy about the 4 o’clock arrivals, but the game itself I truly love, and I always have and I still do, and that’s not going to go away.”
That enjoyment of the job was not evident last year. But this year has brought back the Remy of old, an incisive, sharp analyst with a knack for recognizing what might or should happen before it does. He is back in that comfort zone, and viewers are back to being comfortable with him. He should be back next year. He deserves to be back, and he is under contract, having signed what he said was a five-year deal in April 2013.
The question remains: Will he be back? When WEEI’s Gerry Callahan broke the news of Orsillo’s departure during last Tuesday’s “Dennis and Callahan” program, he also said that Remy would work a reduced schedule next year, possibly in the range of 40 games.
Reached by phone Thursday, Remy said he could not comment on his status. When asked for comment, NESN spokesman Gary Roy referred to Buckley’s nearly-week-old Herald column. In that piece, NESN president and CEO Sean McGrail said Remy is in the network’s plans for next season, but a role hadn’t been finalized. When asked if the role would be reduced, McGrail said: “We don’t know yet. We’re working through that. We weren’t going to talk about that until October, but he will be with us, for sure.”
To read the rest of the story visit the Boston Globe where it was originally published
NFL Explains How World Cup Effected 2022 Schedule
“We didn’t strategically deploy any of our games to either go really strong or go a little less strong, because we knew there was going to be soccer that day.”
This will be the first year that the World Cup will be contested during the NFL season. It isn’t a challenge professional football is used to in America. That is why Mike North, the NFL’s vice president of broadcast scheduling, told Richard Deitsch that it was important to do some homework.
“Very early in the process we got with our broadcast partner at Fox and we knew that there weren’t going to be any windows where Fox was not going to be able to broadcast an NFL game,” he said.
The real effect had to do with the NFL’s international schedule. Five games will be played outside of the United States borders this season. North said he wanted to understand the potential schedule for the World Cup so he could create the best atmosphere for the international contests.
“I’m not sure we’re doing the right thing for the fan in Germany if we’re playing in Bayern Munich’s stadium while the German national team is playing a World Cup game; I’m not sure we are doing the right thing for our fans in Mexico if we were playing a game in Mexico on a day when the Mexican national team was playing. So we were certainly aware of the World Cup schedule and worked very closely with our friends at Fox to make sure we were aligned on how we were going to approach it.”
North said that he wasn’t worried about football beating fútbol. He just wanted to understand what he was putting his teams up against.
“We didn’t back out of any of our windows. We didn’t strategically deploy any of our games to either go really strong or go a little less strong, because we knew there was going to be soccer that day.”
FIFA moved the World Cup to the final two months of the year in 2022. To play the games any earlier would have meant players would have been dealing with extreme heat in Qatar.
The first match will be played on November 21. The final is scheduled for December 18. That overlaps with weeks 11 through 16 of the NFL season.
Peter King: ‘Tom Brady Needs To Study Cris Collinsworth’
“He’ll know that to be good, he has to get out of his comfort zone of all niceties and tell it like it is.”
Peter King dedicated a not-insignificant portion of his “Football Morning in America” column this week to advice for Tom Brady. FOX announced last week that the Buccaneers’ quarterback will become the network’s lead NFL analyst upon his retirement.
Brady’s decision and his reported salary have been the source of much speculation and prediction amongst his soon-to-be colleagues.
King is optimistic that Tom Brady will be entertaining and informative when he makes his FOX debut. He did offer the GOAT a little bit of advice about what he should be doing in the months leading up to calling it quits on his playing days and starting his new career.
“I think what I’d do if I were Brady is study Cris Collinsworth—and honest to goodness, I don’t say that because I work for NBC,” he wrote. “I say it because Collinsworth knows how to talk X’s-and-O’s conversationally, he’s an easy listen, and he can criticize when the time comes.”
Interestingly, last week, Collinsworth says he hears from most former players that are getting ready to make the jump to broadcasting. He was surprised he never heard from Tom Brady before FOX announced their deal.
King had two other suggestions. The first was that Brady watch multiple games from start to finish so that he can hear what the give-and-take between a broadcaster and analyst sounds like. The other is that he has to commit to being interesting and not censoring himself. King has faith that Brady will be able to do that.
“He’ll know that to be good, he has to get out of his comfort zone of all niceties and tell it like it is. On that LeBron James show last year, Brady said, ‘Ninety percent of what I say is not what I’m thinking. There’s a part of me that doesn’t like conflict, so in the end I always just try to play it super-flat.’ That has to end once he’s on TV if he wants to be any good.”
Nick Wright Critical Of ABC Crew As Giannis Antetokounmpo Struggles In Game 7
“He reminded his followers on Twitter that the two-time MVP has put together some amazing performances in this series.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo started hot in Game 7 on Sunday. By the time the game ended though, the Boston Celtics were on their way to Miami for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals and the defending champions were headed back to Milwaukee.
The Celtics’ defense gave the Milwaukee Bucks fits in the second half. The ABC broadcast put a special spotlight on Antetokounmpo, who got multiple drives to the basket that he could not finish.
“The best has got to show up when the best is needed, and Giannis has been disappointing,” said Mark Jackson over a package of highlights of Giannis missing shots. “As great of a player as he is, given credit to the Celtics’ defense, but he has struggled offensively time and time again.”
Nick Wright of FS1 noticed and he didn’t appreciate it. He reminded his followers on Twitter that the two-time MVP has put together some amazing performances in this series.
Mike Been, Mark Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy were not particularly hard on Giannis. The trio made the typical comments we hear when things aren’t going a great player’s way.
Wright did not harp on the issue beyond the single tweet. The outcome was not in doubt as the clock winded down. He gave credit to the Celtics rather than tweet about the Bucks or Giannis.