“It’s like he’s trying to speak to me, I know it! You know, you’re really cute, but I don’t know what you’re saying! Say the first thing again!” ~Marlin baffled by Squirt in “Finding Nemo”. Also, me to all the students presenting at the Saber Seminar last weekend.
If I had to guess, I’d say maybe every other presenter at the Saber Seminar this past weekend made a “not all baseball fans are like this group here” comment. Every time someone said it I thought “Hell, I’M not even like this group!”
I love baseball. LOVE it. Fall asleep every night to a random game playing on Extra Innings long after the Red Sox have finished their game. But I have to admit that the advanced statistics often times go right over my head. I try to have the same passion for it that I do the game itself…but I don’t. And that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the Saber Seminar. I did. It was two days of a lot of fascinating discussions, baseball stories and like-minded people getting a chance to interact. It was my first time there and it was time well-spent.
But there are a boatload of genuine, passionate, baseball fans who would have lasted about a half an hour and then gone looking for a bar with a tv showing a baseball game.
And that’s okay. We’ll get back to this in a moment.
As I’m guessing anyone reading this already knows, it was announced today that after the 2015 season NESN will not be bringing Don Orsillo back to the broadcast booth.
I mean what the hell?
After giving it some thought, my reaction was “Well, this is terrible news but I guess no one has their job forever.” And then I thought “Why the hell not?” I mean, unless you are absolutely terrible at your job why shouldn’t you be able to keep it?
If the outpouring of emotion all over social media outlets today is any indication, most Red Sox fans (as well as the Boston sports media) are quite fond of Donnie O and genuinely upset about the situation. There are support hashtags for D.O. and nasty comments to NESN’s twitter account that have been flooding Twitter all afternoon. People are threatening to cancel their Extra Innings or MLBtv subscriptions next season while others are posting videos of Don and Jerry Remy at their most entertaining.
But one tweet stood out for me. It was in response to a Chad Finn tweet:
@GlobeChadFinn I like analysis, and not a comedy show, which is what people are defending with Orsillo. He is not that good.
— Joe Palladino (@PalladinoJoe) August 25, 2015
Now Joe Palladino is quite possibly a very nice man so I’m not here to specifically call him out – especially since he isn’t the only person to make this observation. But it was the first tweet of its kind that I saw today and it made me think about baseball fans and their expectations.
(As an important aside, it was pointed out to Mr. P and many others that Don Orsillo’s job is to provide play by play, not analysis. That fact doesn’t take away from the point I’m about to make.)
Don Orsillo has two jobs, the first is to tell us what is happening in the game, the play by play if you will. The second, and this is so very important to his job, is to ENTERTAIN US.
Some will argue that plenty of announcers do their jobs perfectly fine without breaking into giggle fits or showing off their packing skills and those people would be correct. But that doesn’t mean that you CAN’T do your job without acting like you’re enjoying the heck out of it and that’s what Don Orsillo has done ever since the first night he took the microphone next to Jerry Remy.
There are so many different levels to enjoy baseball. Some people enjoy lots of hits and runs, some prefer pitching duels, others keep their noses buried in their scorecards, while others go to the park to take photos of the action. Some spend hours and hours pouring over statistics and working on creating new statistics to mark every moment of the game. There are fans who go to the park to enjoy a summer evening outdoors and fans who collect baseball cards for the pictures of the cute guys. And there are many, many fans who use baseball as their soundtrack to summer. Either with the radio or the television, every night around 7pm people some people settle in to spend a few hours with their baseball friends.
There is no wrong way to be a fan. Unless you’re a jackass. Don’t be a jackass.
But I digress.
The Saber Seminar’s connection to Mr. Palladino’s above tweet is tenuous but does exist in MY mind. The majority of the folks at the seminar were wonderfully welcoming, interesting and fun (and obviously passionate about baseball). They were also incredibly focussed on the science and statistics surrounding baseball. For the most part, the weekend wasn’t about being entertained by the game, it was about the deeper meaning behind each pitch, hit and run. And that’s great. And I get that some people, like the folks at the seminar and Mr. P above, might turn into a baseball broadcast to learn more about the statistics and the science. They want more than just “Swing and a miss” or “Hitters are batting .283 versus Smith over his last 12 appearances.” But in fairness, those folks, passionate and wonderful as they are, don’t make up the entirety of baseball fans.
The fans who just want to hear the game being called by a familiar voice make up the majority of the fans. The folks who enjoy hearing Don and Jerry lose their minds over some idiot who tossed a slice of pizza at another fan or who get excited that Jerry surprised Don with a desk lamp, those are the fans who thought NESN got it.
With Don Orsillo we’ve celebrated three World Championships and three no-hitters (four if you count Derek Lowe, but Orsillo didn’t call that game). We’ve mourned the losses of Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky among others…and we laughed. Holy cow have we laughed.
What folks like Mr. Palladino above and, apparently, all the suits at NESN don’t get is that for many of us a member of our family is being kicked out of our home with, seemingly, no good explanation. If he was spreading his wings and taking his talents elsewhere on his own we’d be sad but understanding. Being unceremoniously dumped makes no sense to us and we’re left hurt and angry and with questions that NESN probably won’t ever answer.
Don Orsillo isn’t an analyst but he’s an entertainer and he does that job well. NESN is taking away someone who has grown dear to so many of the people they rely on for their ratings. Maybe they don’t care – it’s a fair bet that they don’t care – but that doesn’t mean that WE can’t care. Watching NESN next season might not be an option for me because I don’t know that I want to support a business who cares so little about people.
I guess what I’ve been trying to say is that I will miss Don Orsillo terribly when he’s gone and that makes me sad. I’m so tired of baseball making me sad.
|Brad Penny, trying to work the kinks out. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net in April 2009 and used with permission.
I’d love to put a cheery spin on Julio Lugo’s fielding from last night but I can’t. The ball that went by him to score that first run (and extend the inning) looked playable to me (but as Red at Surviving Grady points out about himself, I’m not exactly professional athlete material, so what the hell do I know, really?); the second one was more questionable. So it seems apparent that, at the very least, Lugo’s range is practically non-existent. The problem is that Nick Green’s range seems to be cousins with Julio’s range. So what’s a manager to do?
The big idea is to trade Brad Penny for a shortstop to work with Jed Lowrie (when Jed finally gets back), no? (Well, yes it’s “no” according to reports that the Sox are/were interested in Jeff Francoeur. Huh? Um, no thank you, Theo. Really.). But Penny kind of helped his cause toward staying put by not being able to settle down and pitch like a major-league pitcher after Lugo’s run-scoring miscue (which was ruled a hit not an error, incidentally). After that first run scored, there were two men on and Ian Kinsler hit a three-run home run. Now the offense for the Sox did Penny no favors by forgetting how to score runs for 9 innings so there’s plenty of “blame” to go around for last night’s loss. Lugo at short was a part of it but so was Penny not being able to throw the pitches he should when he needed to most. Apparently the era of my not picking on Penny has gone by the wayside. Sadly, it seems so has my ability to fully defend Julio Lugo.
The other side of this IS that it was one loss. One lousy loss, indeed, but still just one loss. It’s funny how I didn’t read on any Sox message boards all week long about how bad this team is. Four wins in a row, including a sweep of the Tigers, and everything is all sunshine and happiness. The minute the Sox lose a game, though, it’s “the rotation needs to be revamped! Smoltz doesn’t need rehab starts, bring him up now!”. See, this is why I try so much to focus on the positive. The Sox are a half game out of first place. They have the best bullpen in the majors and their rotation, which is SUPPOSED to be on of the best in the league, is finally coming together the way everyone expected. Jason Bay and Dustin Pedroia are in the top ten in the American League in almost all the stats for batters. This is not a bad team in any sense. This is not a team that needs to rebuild (sure they need to tweak, I’ll give you that). Why in the world would you want to spend your time bitching about the shortcomings when there is so much good to focus on (especially right now?)? It frustrates me and that’s why I won’t devote thousands of words to it. Yeah, last night stunk. There’s a game at 7:10 tonight that I’m hoping (and believing) won’t stink.
Keep in mind I’m not talking about the folks who get paid to critique every little thing the Sox do. The Chad Finns and Alex Speiers of the world need to keep pointing out the shortcomings because 1) It’s a story and 2) I don’t believe in turning a blind eye. Were I a reporter or analyst and not just some random commentator then I suppose I’d be more critical. But all I am is a fan. And I will always believe it’s better for the fans to focus on the positive (and I believe in bringing that good energy to the park).
A reminder for those who want to tune in and laugh at me (I have this Brenda Vaccaro-ish thing going on with my voice right now and am wondering how that will translate over the phone and THEN over the airwaves), I’ll be one of the guest on the “Web Sox Nation” segment of Comcast SportsNet New England’s “The Baseball Show“, once again, this morning. I’m taping it just after 8am and, if the past is any indication, I believe it will be on around 9:50am. Keep in mind that, for whatever reasons, even though the show is simulcast on WEEI radio, this segment isn’t, so if you really DO want to see/hear it, you need to have Comcast SportsNet NE. Given all the out of town folks who have been kind enough to ask for it, there’s a good possibility it will end up on YouTube. I’ll keep you all posted.
Crabcakes on the mound tonight against Derek Holland (who was born on an off-day during the 1986 ALCS – yes, I looked up his birth date after seeing he was born in October 1986!). Lester’s last outing was fabulous. More of that, please, Crabby.
|The celebration after Clay’s no-hitter. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.
So here’s something I was thinking about all night:
Where is the line between honoring a baseball tradition and reporting what’s happening? And who makes that distinction?
A little background to begin. I import random Twitter feeds during my live blogs. Last night the PawSox feed, Chad Finn, Amalie Benjamin, Surviving Grady and the “Beard of Truth” were the feeds I decided to import just for fun. Around the fifth inning, Amalie tweeted (twittered? For this entry we’re going with tweeted) the following:
I’m sure you know what’s going on. No getting mad at me for jinxing by giving out info cause a) it’s my job, and b) I have no impact at all.
The people who were actively following the blog (that is, reading and commenting. We seem to get a lot of lurkers at the live blogs) pretty much were all for the removal of Amalie’s feeds at that point (which I did). With Amalie there are two issues. Is it her job? She isn’t a broadcaster. She was on Twitter. I’m relatively certain updating her Twitter feed isn’t part of her “job”. Sure it’s a nice way to market her writing at boston.com but it isn’t as if people rely on what she has tweeted to find out what’s going on with the game. The other issue is, the same. IS it her job? If you’re watching the game “I’m sure you know what’s going on” then why is it her job to tell you what you already know?