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Joe's MLB on TV Report - Red Sox

Ninth in a series.

Broadcast: Boston Red Sox on New England Sports Network (NESN), Arizona at Red Sox, 6/23/08; Announcers: Don Orsillo (play-by-play), Jerry Remy (analyst), Heidi Watney (reporter, and woman number four so far)

Jerry Remy is celebrating twenty years in the Red Sox broadcast booth. We know this because there were at least six or seven notifications -- either through commercials, promos read on-air or NESN’s running crawl at the bottom of the screen -- for “Jerry Remy Day” at Fenway Park the following evening, and for NESN’s coverage throughout the day, starting with highlights of Remy’s work (dubbed “REMYniscing” -- sheesh). There were also two camera shots of fans holding signs congratulating Remy.

At the beginning of the broadcast Remy mentioned that the Arizona Diamondbacks hitters are among the leaders in strikeouts, so it might be a high-strikeout night for Boston starter Josh Beckett. This might be considered an obvious observation, but it turned out to be accurate. Beckett ended up with 8 strikeouts in 8 innings.

Remy and Don Orsillo turned out to be prescient in another instance. Boston’s Kevin Youkilis was warming up at first base before the 5th inning when a one-hop throw from Mike Lowell smacked him under the right eye, causing a welt which quickly swelled up. Youkilis had to leave the game and was replaced by Brandon Moss. The announcers mentioned that Sean Casey was unavailable since he began serving a suspension that night, and that the Red Sox have been reluctant to use the inexperienced Moss at first base. Sure enough, in the 8th inning Moss bobbled a ground ball long enough to allow what turned out to be the winning run to score in Arizona’s 2-1 victory.

The game got off to quite a start. The first pitch of the game was fouled directly into the booth and caromed off Orsillo’s hand. A little later Remy noted that Orsillo’s left thumb was swelling and called for the Red Sox team doctors to report to the booth to examine it. Orsillo said he was okay since “I’m one of the toughest announcers in the American League.”

That may be an overstatement, but Orsillo displayed a much drier wit later. During a replay of a bizarre incident a few years ago in spring training when a bird flew directly into the path of a Randy Johnson pitch, with predictably fatal results, Remy asked, “How would you like to be that bird getting in front of a Randy Johnson fastball?” Orsillo’s reply: “It didn’t go well.” No, but the Orsillo-Remy pairing goes pretty well.

Heidi Watney’s three reports during the game represented the good, the bad, and the forgettable. The good: a report that Youkilis, having left the game, was being taken to the hospital for a CT scan as a precaution. The bad: a waste-of-time interview with actor Michael Chiklis. The forgettable: literally that. I didn’t write it down and can’t recall what it was about. It certainly wasn’t about anything important.

As for the graphics, they’re not the most pleasing I’ve seen. Something about the font and the color scheme just didn’t sit well with my eyes. At least they weren’t adding as many sound effects as Fox, though. One nice touch some teams use late in games is a graphic of what the hitter’s line in a scorecard would look like – 1B, F7, K, etc. But if they’re going to do that, it should be correct. Manny Ramirez was hit by a pitch in an at-bat but instead of HBP, the NESN scorecard showed BB (base on balls). Grade: B. -- Joe Guckin