April 16, 2017

Listening To Jerry Remy: Observation Is Not Analysis

Back in August 2012, I posted "The Many Problems With NESN", a litany of my many issues with the network's Red Sox broadcasts. (Boston Business Journal's web editor, Galen Moore, wrote about my post and asked NESN to comment. NESN apparently refused.)

Much of the post concerned Jerry Remy. I wrote:
When it comes to analysis of the game, Remy offers absolutely nothing to the NESN broadcast. That has not always been true; in seasons past, his insights have added to my understanding of the game, but those days are long past.

This year [2012], his contributions have been little more than repeating [Don] Orsillo's play-by-play in slightly different words, or simply describing what we see on the replay. He does almost nothing else. His job has evolved into being the play-by-play guy for the replays.
Last year, working with new booth partner Dave O'Brien, Remy was much improved, prompted perhaps by the blunt way NESN shoved the beloved Orsillo out the door after the 2015 season. Remy seemed more prepared and he was quick to discuss strategy to a degree that I had not heard from him in many years. But, sadly, this "new" Remy did not last. He soon retreated to his old habits and now, in his 30th season behind the microphone, most of his nightly contributions are limited to telling us what we can already see on the screen.

Some of Remy's comments, from last Friday's broadcast:

Top of 1st inning, Dickerson batting:
Red Sox into the shift against the leadoff man, Dickerson. You don't see that very often against a leadoff hitter, but they certainly are now, as you can see three men on the right side and only Bogaerts left at shortstop. Outfield, straight up. ... First curveball of the night for Porcello. Three fastballs prior to that. Tries the breaking ball and just getting a piece of it was Dickerson. Hitting the top of it. Good spin on that breaking ball, ends up down just about the knees, fouled off.
Top of 1st inning, Kiermaier grounds out first-to-pitcher:
Two men doing their job there, first Moreland putting the nice lead to Porcello, who's covering the bag. You watch pitchers get to first base, they'll kind of head towards that first base line and then cut it up - right there - so they're in a good position to get the flip from the first baseman. Moreland, very good at this, Gold Glover, and flips it right up around the letters where it's nice and easy to handle.
Top of 2nd inning, Morrison batting:
See the shift going right now. Sandoval going to the other side, now that the count goes to 2-0. They would expect him to be swinging away. They leave Bogaerts at the shortstop position. [Next pitch by Porcello is a ball.] Morrison, the type of guy that you might give the green light to on three balls and no strikes. [Remy does not explain his comment. Morrison takes a strike.] That's a great fastball on a 3-0 count. He may have the green light, so what do you do? You paint the outside corner with it. [Morrison doubles to center field.] He gets that 3-1 count, gets a fastball down the middle and he jumps all over it. At first, it looked like maybe Benintendi would be able to catch up with this, but no. The ball is hit too hard up over his head - and the double. Benintendi tracking this ball back to the wall, but then plays it on one hop against the garage door. He knows right here that he's not going to catch up to that, he's running out of real estate.
Top of 3rd inning, Souza batting:
Porcello shaking his head. You know, that pitch is close. Usually guys that don't walk many guys get that pitch. [So umpires should change the rules for players with more service time?] It was a little bit outside. Of course, yesterday, that would have been considered right down the middle of the plate. Everything away was being called a strike yesterday. ... Those are pitches that Rick generally gets. [Souza eventually walks.] He's frustrated, not only with himself, but with [Lance] Barksdale, the [home plate] umpire. Two pitches that he thought could be strikes. Smart move by Willis, coming out now to calm him down just a little bit because he is hot. ... Now Barksdale's going to come out and break up the meeting. And generally it breaks up just before he gets there.
Top of 5th inning, Longoria striking out and Miller hitting a home run:
[Longoria strikes out swinging.] That's more like Porcello right there. When he gets ahead in the count, he elevates that fastball to pick up the strikeout. And that's exactly what he does here, to Longoria. That high fastball, about letter high, or even a little bit higher, very tough to catch up to. Nice play by Leon, too. That ball foul tipped, right into the webbing of the glove. [Miller hits the first pitch for a home run.] You know, it's interesting, you see a guy like Miller. Came into the game 0-for-11, so what does he do? He bloops one in last time, in the third inning, and now, he feels like he can hit again. And he does. Straight-away center field. Fastball was supposed to be away, stays middle, and takes it out of the ball park to straight-away center field. About the first row of the bleachers. Actually hit on top of the wall, looked like.
Bottom of 5th inning, Pedroia hits a ground-rule double to right field:
Pedroia hitting this ball very well to the opposite field. He's not had great success in his career against [Chris] Archer, only .229 coming into the game, but now 1-for-3 in this game with this double, as that ball bounces up and into the stands. See, that ball almost by Pedroia there, but he, he almost picks it out of the catcher's mitt to drive it to the opposite field for the two-base hit.
Bottom of 5th inning, with Benintendi on first, Betts doubles to left field:
Certainly down by seven, you can't take any chances on scoring Benintendi, but three straight hits for the Red Sox. A double by Pedroia, the single by Benintendi, and now - very flat slider that time, didn't do very much at all - and Mookie takes it right down that left field corner for the two-base hit. So a meeting at the mound. Right there, you run hard until the third base coach holds you up. Benintendi's got the play in front of him, he'll round [second base], and then pick up the coach, coach holding him, stay right there. Down by seven. Take no chances.
Top of 7th inning, Miller triples to right field:
He's just a double from hitting for the cycle now. He's got a single back in the third, a home run in the fifth, and now the triple. As you can see, it's going to get stuck underneath the wall. It caroms off the boards and then just stops. And Mookie has to track it down and, in the meantime, Miller all the way to third base with the triple.
Top of 7th inning, Souza singles to left field:
Remains very aggressive right there, 3-0 count, gets the fastball from Robbie Ross and, with the infield in, picks up the base hit, picks up his second RBI.
Top of 9th inning, Peterson batting:
It's interesting, the different styles of umpires, you know, like yesterday, for example, we saw a very big strike zone. Tonight, not so big.
Bottom of 9th inning, Benintendi hits a ground-rule double down the left field line:
He's had a very good night, on base three times, a walk, a single to drive in a run, now this double. So the first two batters reach in the ninth inning. Again, the shift put on on Benintendi. And Robertson, the third baseman, no chance to get that. The ball will spin up into the stands, about 10, 15 rows back. That went over the head of a lot of people before it landed.
Bottom of 9th inning, Betts singles to left field, is 4-for-5 in the game:
Between he and Bogaerts, they have both really hit the ball hard tonight. Mookie's right on target. That fastball inside, he cleans it out. For a second it looked like Dickerson was going to make a nice play out there in left field, on this sinking line drive. But, kicks it, right off the webbing off his glove.
This is a random sampling. I could have chosen just about any play during the game. Remy tailors his descriptions to the replays, basically narrating what is being shown. And on nearly every pitch that he talks about, Remy will tell us where the catcher positioned his glove, where the pitch ended up being thrown, and where the ball was hit (if it was hit). It's all information we can see easily on our TV screens.

This would be tolerable if Remy gave viewers anything else to consider, anything else to broaden our understanding of the game. In fact, if he offered decent analysis, his replay recaps might go unnoticed. But he doesn't, and they don't. ... I know I'm a broken record at this point, but Red Sox fans deserve better.


Unknown said...

Could not agree with you less. I thoroughly enjoy when Remy is on. If you do not like him hit mute or listen on the radio. Try listening to some other teams broadcasts. Some are down right torture. We are lucky to have the crew that we have.

allan said...

Just to be clear: I like Remy when he actually does some analyzing. I think I made that quite clear both in this post and the older one.

However, I don't think you (or anyone else) could argue that Remy does not do play-by-play for every replay in every game. If you happen to like that, that is great. I do not. I expect the analyst to do a little bit more than tell me "There a base hit up the middle" when I'm watching a replay of a base hit up the middle, especially since the play-by-play guy already told me there was a base hit up the middle as it was happening 30 seconds earlier.

There were 88 plate appearances in that game, so most of what Remy said on the air that night was narration of at least 88 replays. I chose 12 to illustrate my point, but I also could have picked any of the other 76.

And pointing to others teams' announcers? That is an extremely low bar. So Remy is better than Hawk Harrelson? Big deal.