Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

NESN Drops the Ball

Don Orsillo with Gary Tuck - June 2010 - Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill and used with permission.

Don Orsillo with Gary Tuck – June 2010 – Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill and used with permission.


“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:



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.

August 25, 2015 Posted by | 2015 | , , , , | 5 Comments

I’m Ready for the Red Sox

And so it begins

I haven’t really gotten into all the pre-season goings on just yet.  I listened to the first two games MLB audio let me this week, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Today, though…today not only do we get Red Sox baseball but we get TELEVISED Red Sox baseball with Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo calling the game!  And, as a bonus, it’s Red Sox baseball against the New York Yankees.  Buy me a hot dog and let’s call it summer!

There is a feeling that I can’t explain when it comes to baseball starting up again.  Although I’m always paying attention to baseball (and keeping up the blog by writing about it) even in the off-season, my level of enthusiasm definitely wanes.  As excited as I get about Truck Day and pitchers and catchers reporting, that feeling goes away for me.  It isn’t until I hear Remy and Donnie O and see the Red Sox actually playing ball, that I get that charge…that feeling of having a clean slate and a world of opportunities for the team ahead of me.  Tonight, when Remy says “Buenas noches, amigos”, I’ll be ready.

Baseball is finally back on  my television…Clay Buchholz is pitching against the Yankees at 7:05 tonight on NESN.  I can’t wait!

March 4, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 1 Comment

"Laser Show…and then some!"*

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/ and used with permission

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/ and used with permission

Long, tiring day yesterday.  I made it wide-awake through five complete innings last night which means the score was 6-2 Red Sox when I fell asleep.  When I woke up again, Daniel Nava was at bat in the 7th inning and the Rockies were up  8-6.  I tried, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I, once again, woke up, this time around 4am.  I had shut the television off in my sleep so I grabbed my Droid and tapped on the ‘At-Bat’ app to see the score.  At first glance, forgetting the Sox were on the road, I read it as 13-11 Rockies.  Then I focused my brain and realized that not only were the Sox the winning team but Papelbon the winning pitcher…in 10 innings.

In my early morning fog, my first clear thought was “Papelbon blew ANOTHER save?”.  (I then became happy for the win, especially since I had friends who traveled many miles to watch those games in person and the idea of their having to leave the park in the midst of Rockies fans chanting “sweep” was heart breaking.)

Here is, to my mind, an unbelievable number:  three.  Jonathan Papelbon only has three blown saves this season with 19 save opportunities.  Good lord, it feels like 10.  Just more proof that we all seem to react much more harshly to these types of situations than maybe they deserve, eh?  He’s also only blown back to back saves two other times in his career (one being in his rookie year) but neither of those came in back to back games (they were consecutive appearances for Paps but not games for the team).

As I write this, I’m watching “Breakfast with the Sox” on NESN (the one-hour recap of the previous game) and they skipped over showing the entire game and started up in the 8th inning.  I just watched Papelbon give up the game-tying hit.  I know it ended well (Papelbon so owes both Darnell McDonald AND Dustin Pedroia something shiny and new) but I will say this:  never have I been so happy to have fallen asleep and missed a game where the Sox ended up winning as I am this morning.  Holy cow.

Dustin Pedroia went 5-5 with a walk which included a mind-boggling 3 home runs last night.  His home runs weren’t meaningless home runs in the midst of blow outs either.  His first was in the fourth inning when the score was 2-0 and it started the 4 run rally that was the fourth inning.   His second came in the 8th, a two-run homer that turned the Sox’ one run lead into a three run lead.  Both would be important (as would his walk given he scored a run because of it) but none more important than the last homer he hit…with two outs in the 10th and Marco Scutaro on first, Pedroia hit the second pitch he saw from Huston Street into the stands to give the Sox the 13-11 lead which, thanks to Papelbon pitching a perfect 10th inning, they didn’t relinquish.  Sweep averted, on to San Francisco.

Incidentally, Pedroia waving “Hi!” to the NESN camera following him in the dugout after the homer was priceless and worth staying up for!

Back in June 2007, the Colorado Rockies came to Boston for a three-game series.  It was a midweek, Tuesday through Thursday series leading into the Sox playing the Giants over the weekend.  I was at two of those games, pitched by Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett, and both were miserable losses. The Sox only beat the Rockies in the game that Tim Wakefield pitched (and for the sake of context, the June 14th loss was Beckett’s first of that season) to begin the series.  All I’m saying is, if 2010 ends the way 2007 did – I’ll be quite all right with this particular series loss.

Wake is on the mound at 10:15 ET tonight.  I’m going to have to stock up on the Red Bull for this one (although I really can’t complain…three 8:40pm games instead of 10pm with the Rockies and only one 10pm game with the Giants…I think we can make it!).

*How Don Orsillo followed up the Pedroia homer in the 10th…Pedie would be proud!

June 25, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Live-blogging the PawSox playing at Fenway – the final game of the 2008 regular season.

What comes up when I type in "Pawtucket Red Sox" into Yahoo Images!

What comes up when I type "Pawtucket Red Sox" in Yahoo Images. 😀

The text I just got from KellyO tells me that we’re going to see more of the PawSox dudes than the 25-man roster guys tonight…so we’re just going to roll with it.  It’s raining in my town but I haven’t heard what it’s doing in Boston just yet.  Which means that, for now, we’re going under the assumption this game starts at 7:35pm.

7:33pm – KellyO texts me that there are about 6000 people in Fenway Park right now – and no rain.  I look at my foot, which isn’t throbbing any more but is still sore, and wonder if I would have gone in had I not messed up this morning.

7:35pm – Wake is on the mound.  He’s 10-11 this season, so a win tonight will, at least, let him hit .500.

7:37pm – Wake hits the first batter (although the replay shows that he didn’t get hit and Jim Wolf needs glasses) so Gardner is on first and Cano is up.  Gardner steals second as Wake throws strike one.

7:38pm – Along with the painful foot, I’m starting to feel a little punky tonight.  Hopefully it’s no biggie and will go away, but that stomach ache I thought Papelbon gave me hasn’t gone away…so if I suddenly stop live-blogging, it’s probably just because I’ve passed out.  😉

7:39pm – Wake strikes out Cano…woo!

7:40pm – With the shift on, Giambi grounds out and moves Gardner to third.  Also, Ponson is supposed to pitch tonight, but Phil Hughes is in the bullpen throwing.  Donnie O wonders if he’s just getting some throwing in, or if he’s going to be coming into the game.

7:41pm – Van Every catches out number three…nice inning for Wake.

7:44pm – The kid announcing the lineups totally butchers Gil Velazquez’ name and Donnie O STILL says “Good Job”.  Ponson IS in the game and Coco gets a double off of him.  Woooo!

7:45pm – One out, Coco on third and Chris Carter is up.  Carter grounds out and Coco scores.  1-0 Sox.

7:46pm – Jeff Bailey is up.  Remy waxes poetic on what a “long weekend” it has been.

7:47pm – Bailey gets an infield hit on one of those hits that could be a bunt…yay!  Here comes The Mayor!

7:49pm – Casey hits the ball to the first baseman and the inning is over.  1-0 Boston – woot!

7:51pm – Donnie O tells me Cody Ransom is up…but Cody looks an awful lot like Ivan Rodriguez and since Pudge is the one who just grounded out, well I’m going with my eyes instead of Donnie O.  🙂

7:52pm – Wilson Betemit has those Brendan Donnelly hipster glasses on tonight.  Does he always wear those?  I’ve never noticed.  No matter…he grounds out to Alex Cora and Wake has two quick outs.

7:54pm – If I’m going to live-blog I should pay better attention to the lineups, huh?  Coco catches the third out but I have no idea who hit it.

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September 28, 2008 Posted by | Live Blog | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Around Baseball

Bowden, Snyder, Masterson Photo by Kelly O'Connor

Bowden, Snyder, Masterson Photo by Kelly O'Connor

The Red Sox weren’t the only ones to lose a heart-breaker last night as the Lowell Spinners watched their bullpen implode and blow a 6-2 lead after six innings and ended up losing 13-9. The good news is that David Aardsma pitched a 1-2-3 inning of rehab for the Spinners, so maybe he’ll be back in Boston soon? The Spinners have a do or die game tonight at 7:05…a win gets them into the Championship Series against the Jamestown Jammers…a loss sends them home for the season.

And, hell since we’re on the minor leagues and playoffs, the Lancaster JetHawks staved off ending their season early with a win yesterday, tying their series with the Lake Elsinore Storm. Tonight they play the decisive game. So one out of the four affiliated teams are still in the playoffs. Kick ass in Lancaster, fellas!

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September 10, 2008 Posted by | Boston Sports Media, Players, Playoffs, Randomness | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Old Papelbon is Back”

According to Don Orsillo.

Nice to see hyperbole isn’t dead.  🙂

Nice win by the team tonight.   Matsuzaka did well, the bullpen did well and the guys were hitting homeruns like they got an ice cream after every one!

Jed Lowrie had three hits tonight, including his first major league homerun.  Nice way to spend your last day up, huh?

Tomorrow will be interesting to see how it all rolls out.  Maybe Lugo suddenly gets put on the DL?  I’d like to see Lowrie stay.

Nice, quick game (uncharacteristic for Daisuke!) and a win to boot.  Good way to end the evening.

PawSox won the first game of their double-header and are in the middle of a tied game.  I like it when I still get to listen to baseball late into the night!

May 10, 2008 Posted by | Games | , , , , | 6 Comments