August 27, 2015

Thoughts On Orsillo Leaving NESN

I feel like I should write something about the news that Don Orsillo will not be returning to NESN as the Red Sox's television play-by-play announcer in 2016. But I find that I am indifferent to the news, which is perhaps tied to my diminished connection to the team the last two years.

My issues and complaints with NESN's Red Sox broadcasts - both the actual production and direction, as well as the announcers - have been well-chronicled. Nothing much has changed in the three years since that post. When I watch the Red Sox now, I use the "ballpark sound" option that is available with the home team feed.

Despite his catch phrases, predictable descriptions, and incessant reading of the day's Media Notes, I will miss a few things about Orsillo. One is his refusal to moralize about the game, its players, and its history. Orsillo never gets up on his soapbox to lecture the audience about How The Game Should Be Played. And he doesn't gossip about players. He focuses only on the game on the field - which seems to be quite rare - and I find it incredibly refreshing.

Unfortunately, from what I have heard of O'Brien - mostly recently, during the 2013 World Series - he is the opposite. He gossips about players in the news and pompously tells fans how they should feel about this or that issue. Where Orsillo is self-deprecating, O'Brien comes off as a little too in love with his own thoughts. O'Brien is no Bob Costas in this regard, thankfully, but it remains a fault of his game-calling persona.

17 comments:

allan said...

I really blew it with my post title when the news broke. Should have been witty enough to go with: "Not Returning To Sox Booth Is Orsillo".

allan said...

Elias:
The Astros defeated the Yankees on Wednesday, 6-2, to extend their streak of allowing two or fewer runs to nine straight games. Since the American League began using a designated hitter in 1973, the only other A.L. team to hold opponents to two or fewer runs in nine or more consecutive games was the Orioles, late in the summer of 1974. Baltimore did that during a 10-game winning streak from August 29 to September 7, a stretch that included five straight shutouts, which moved them from eight games behind in the A.L. East to only one game behind the Yankees; the Orioles won the division by two games.

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Does NESN want to run itself into the ground? This is like the worst of TMZ level stuff.

allan said...

I'm curious to see what Remy does. I saw something that hinted he would do only 40 home games next season. I don't know what his contract situation is, but I wonder if NESN would want to go through the trouble of scheduling a part-time analyst.

FenFan said...

Unfortunately, announcing baseball games has become less and less about the game happening right there and then. This issue is not solely reserved to NESN broadcasts; the national broadcasts on ESPN and FOX are as bad or worse (I don't catch many of the TBS Sunday afternoon contests).

If I wasn't living in New England (thereby being required to abide by blackout rules), then I would purchase the MLB TV subscription and watch games as you do, Allan, with only the sounds of the ball park piped through my speakers.

allan said...

I don't know why this is happening, but I have been able to watch Jays games on the package for the past two years. So maybe the blackout rules have changed a bit.

Dr. Jeff said...

I heard some of the White Sox broadcast on Wednesday night. Those announcers are among the worst in the league. Blatant homerism and silly catch phrases. Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. Ugh. When Shaw hit the home run, one of them (Stone?) said "Get foul!". Disgusting. I'll miss Orsillo.

allan said...

Hawk is absolutely the worst. But it's great when a team beats the White Sox (aka "the Good Guys"). There is a YouTube video of his worst calls so far this year - and one of them is a grand slam homer than wipes out a 5-1 CHI lead. I think he says "deep fly ball" and then there is dead air for about 2 minutes until the next batter steps in and he continues as if nothing has happened. Hilarious.

allan said...

Orsillo is clearly well above average - and DOB could absolutely be worse - but I am personally tired of him. But my general hatred of NESN could be part of it, too.

hrstrat57 said...

I predict Orsillo will come out of all this intact and much better off. Has young kids tho I think so any move is tough of course.......
Good luck D.O. who I believe is a fellow Rhode Islander (Cumberland perhaps?)

allan said...

Chad Finn, Globe: "NESN owes us an explanation on Don Orsillo termination"

NESN's approach to the backlash seems to be to wait out the storm and hope it all blows over. Multiple requests to Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and NESN spokesman Gary Roy have gone unanswered. ...

The approach — confirming the news in the middle of a game that Orsillo was calling — was awkward and insulting ...

ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes received the closest thing I've seen to an explanation when he cited a source Wednesday saying this: “We wanted to make a change.”

Well, obviously ...

****

Maxwell Horse said...

As a side note, I get so annoyed by the comments by people who obviously like to think of themselves as level-headed pragmatists that say, "The Red Sox don't owe you any explanation! They can do what they want!"

No kidding, Einstein. Technically they could quadruple ticket prices for next year, dump Pedroia and sign Remy to a 20-mil per contract to play second base, tack on another 10 years to Hanely's contract... and they're not legally obligated to explain anything. However, it's simply good business sense and common courtesy not to piss off your fanbase.

It reminds me of when George Lucas made his shitty, awful Star Wars prequels. And you'd get the frequent person chiding anyone who criticized them. Their reasoning? "George Lucas owns the copyrights! He can do what he wants!"

Dr. Jeff said...

Here's that Hawk compilation (from 2013): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBwNiZmnSDM

softserve solutions said...

I wonder if the outrage over Orsillo is somewhat due to the issue becoming a dumping ground for general unease over this ownership. Conflicted unease, I'm sure, because the return to winning championships has also come with watching the Red Sox organization run by this growing sports conglomerate that owns more of the ecosystem around the core product, has transformed Fenway to cater almost exclusively to corporate/wealthy patrons, and sometimes just does stuff like this to show how little they care or understand about the day-in/day-out attachment of die-hard fans.

And sports in general are moving in this direction, but I also surf around on MLB.tv and see that some franchises look more like the Sox did twenty or more years ago...from cheaper tickets being advertised on the tube, rowdier crowds and more families up close in prime seating, and even what looks like regular weekly free TV broadcasts (something Henry & Co. snuffed out very early into their tenure). Just a theory, maybe based on an illusion, but if the Red Sox don't win something next year the clamoring for new ownership could get pretty substantial.

Tom DePlonty said...

About the blackout rules - I think some conglomerate that owned a number of the regional sports channels renegotiated a contract with MLB and the blackout rules were lifted in some markets. NESN is apparently still holding out.

allan said...

Baseball Think Factory commenter Darren:
I really am shocked by the public adoration of Orsillo. I enjoy him so little. He works very hard to pull the broadcast away from the game and toward his humor, which is about as mundane and cliched as it gets. He doesn't save this for blowouts, either--it happens pretty much every broadcast. As to his announcing skills, I think they used to be decent, but lately he seems to assume things are going to happen that never do: he says a player is diving when he in fact isn't, or a ball has hit off the wall when it's quite clear it hasn't.
Lastly, I guess, would be the tricks that he uses to fill airwaves with the sound of his voice. Nothing happens on July 5th, it happens on July THE 5th, a great way to add grandiosity to certainly meaningless events; Fenway rises as one; Orsillo's random stressing of words: "that's Betts's 4th double OF THE SEASON; he makes the throw TO FIRST BASE for the out."

softserve solutions said...

I think a little change will do Orsillo and NESN some good. I've had the sound switched to "Ballpark Sounds" for some time for the same reasons. Also, NESN throws too many promos at the guy to read and O'Brien just has the smoother delivery for stuff like that, which I think will make it less distracting.

Still, there's absolutely no defending the way NESN handled the timing and the PR response, which has seemed like a very petty and passive-aggressive reaction to the assumption that Orsillo himself leaked it against their wishes.