As this season continues to circle the bowl, waiting for inevitable early-October flush, all of Red Sox Nation is in agreement that change is needed, and very likely coming before the region’s first snow.
But the first salvo of that change has proven to be straight out of left field: NESN has opted to not renew Don Orsillo’s contract after this season. Meaning we’ve got roughly one more month to bask in the magic of DO. Then he’s gone.
Odd as it may seem, this news hit me hard. Even harder than the loss of Lester or the extension of Porcello or any other inexplicably horrible thing that’s come out of Yawkey Way in recent years.
I’m old enough to have seen a lot of Red Sox TV announcer pairings, on both NESN and TV38. I remember Ned Martin and Bob Montgomery. Sean McDonough and Bob Montgomery. Jerry Remy and Ned Martin. Jerry Remy and Bob Kurtz. Sean McDonough and Jerry Remy. Jerry Remy and Bob Rodgers. “Alabama” John Russo and Billy Hydrogen. But when someone at NESN had the good sense to pair Remy with Don Orsillo, they captured lightning in a bottle. At last, Remy was given his perfect partner. The Batman to his Robin. The Laverne to his Shirley. The Hall to his Oates. The straight man to his scraggly, cigarette-stained oldster. Their banter was like that reliable, well-worn suitjacket in the back of your closet: classing up any occasion and comfy as fuck.
In fact, the chemistry between DO and Remy was so good, the world was thrown out of alignment whenever one of them was ill or vacationing and a replacement was thrown in the mix. Somehow, they made even the most turgid, one-sided games watchable. You could argue that they’d become so good at what they did, they unconsciously took the hijinks up a notch when the audience needed it most.
And now, we’re faced with the prospect of a 2016 Red Sox season that features Rick Porcello and Hanley Ramirez, but no DO. That, my friends, is a swift kick to the nuts.
Good luck to whoever NESN taps to fill his shoes. You’re gonna need it.
I’ll close with this clip from DO’s very first game as the regular Red Sox play by play guy. Which just happened to be Hideo Nomo’s first start for the Sox in 2001. Which just happened to be a no hitter.
Godspeed DO. Good night, and good luck.