Jerry Remy Returning To Red Sox Telecasts – Not A Good Idea

It’s not easy to write this.

I think it is a big mistake that Jerry Remy is returning to the Red Sox broadcast booth on NESN this season. I understand why he is going to do it, and why he feels he needs to do it. I don’t begrudge him that decision at all. The problem I have here is that this should not have been his choice to make.

Remy announced yesterday in an emotional, tearful session with the media that he had decided to return to his job at NESN this spring, following his son’s arrest last year for the brutal murder of the mother of Remy’s granddaughter.

I don’t have a single doubt that Remy is sincere and completely heartbroken over the situation. By all accounts, he is a sensitive, thoughtful man who has had to struggle mightily through the last few seasons even before this situation came up. Battles with cancer and depression have cut into his time on the network, and forced NESN to scramble for fill-ins.

Remy insisted yesterday that he would be able to go back to doing his job as he’s done in the past. “I’m going to be myself.  That’s what I’ve always been. I don’t see how else I can do it. If I didn’t think I could be myself, I wouldn’t do it. I hope that doesn’t come off as insensitive. It may to some, but it’s the only way I know how to do my job. He (Don Orsillo) asked me that same question 45 minutes ago and I gave him the same answer. I said, “We’ll take it as we always do. The game is most important, first of all. Anything that flows off the game, you go with it.” If people think that’s insensitive, I’m sure I’ll hear about.”

Both Remy and NESN are fooling themselves if they think things will be able to just go back to normal. This isn’t going away. It’s going to be a very high profile case. There will be updates, both through the media, and to Remy personally. If something more comes out during the day, will Remy be able to go to the park that night and banter with Orsillo like everything is OK?

When asked about the inevitable media blitz around the trial, Remy said “It’s not easy. It’s not easy at all. There is going to be more stuff to come out. There’s going to be a trial in October which will probably be pushed back. I think it’s pretty clear what’s going to happen.”

It would seem that the trial being held at the earliest in October would be a reason for Remy feeling that he could come back for this season, at least. If the trial were to be held in say, June, I doubt he would be coming back at this point in time.

It’s going to be impossible for many viewers to listen to Remy this season without thinking of his family situation. It’s not fair, but when he jokes around and engages in his banter with Orsillo, some are going to object to that. At least one member of the Martel family has already said it will be tough to hear Remy in the booth.

As mentioned earlier, Remy has had a difficult few years, health-wise. Despite the battle with lung cancer, he’s still smoking, and how is the strain of this added emotional burden going to impact his mental and physical health?

Remy seems to maintain that it would be worse for him to be stuck at home and not working. He said “I can’t sit there. I just can’t sit in my chair. I’ve been there long enough already. I’ve got to be busy. I’ve got to do something to preoccupy myself. I need to do something I enjoy.”

Perhaps getting back to work, getting into the old routine is something that can put Remy into a comfort zone for himself, but I don’t think it can last. Eventually, I think the questions, the criticisms are going to get to be too much.

I often hear from viewers who say that Remy’s performance in the booth isn’t what it once was. It’s hard to argue that. Couple that with the health and emotional issues, and now this, it just doesn’t seem like this is the right move, for Remy or for NESN. He wanted to quit before, when those issues were fresh. Can he plow through this unaffected? I have serious doubts.

Reading through the media stories and the interviews on Remy, it seems that most of the local media are circling the wagons around Remy, thoughts such as “Remy deserves a chance to rebuild his life.” or that “Jerry Remy is part of the fabric of the Red Sox.” The Voice Of Boston Sports, invokes the Kennedy assassination when writing about the laughter in the booth being gone. Steve Buckley seems to be the only one saying that perhaps this isn’t a good idea. I think if the others really cared about Remy as a person and friend, they would tell him that he’s making a mistake.

This just cannot end well. In my opinion, NESN should’ve taken the decision out of Remy’s hands. He needs to be saved from himself. I feel for the man, and do not wish for him to have to suffer publicly in this manner. While this is the path he has chosen as his career, Jerry is 61 now. These should be his golden years. He should have many more years ahead of him, but I fear that continuing in the public eye like this will deprive his family of his needed presence (Remy said they’re trying for custody of their granddaughter) more quickly than if he were to try and find something else to do.

I don’t want to see that happen.

  • Bob

    If nesn watchers decrease, they and Remy will have to reconsider

    • Homer Greenz

      No Red Sox fan is going to stop watching because of Remy. They’ll mute and listen to Joe Castig.

      • Steve

        Radio is ahead of regular def tv which is ahead of hdtv – otherwise, we’d do that with Buck and McCarver – you can get Castig on the latest Red Sox world series DVDs

  • PS

    Bruce, I think Remy has earned the right to go out on his own terms whether it be at the end of this year or next year. He shouldn’t be held responsible for the actions of his child nor should those actions determine when his career is over. The whole situation is heartbreaking any way you look at it, but why make it worse by depriving Remy of his livelihood because of his son? It’s not as if he is going to be doing this for another 10 years.

    • Andy Dursin

      Having him broadcast on a daily basis while the trial is happening is a definite issue. Everyone will be waiting and parsing over any comment Remy makes — all it takes is one joke and it’ll all be over Deadspin and the internet. And if he and Orsillo aren’t joking around like they used to, then what’s the point of them being back together? If anything I would consider removing Remy for the whole year at least while the trial is still current.

      • PS

        This is a society where a man can torture and kill hundreds of dogs or kill someone drunk driving and be playing the next year and you think people are going to be outraged by something Remy’s son did to the point where they will call for him to quit? You can’t equate what Remy’s son did with a joke he makes about a baseball game. If you can’t separate the two….

        • PS

          I didn’t mean you were too sensitive Andy, just people that would feel that way :)

    • bsmfan

      From the details out, he had no criminal liability here, but I think many have a problem with the detail of the Remy family stepping in and stopping the restraining order. That’s what I think bothers quite a few people. I think the custody thing also bothers a few people, as well.

    • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

      I think I made the case that it is about more than just this situation with his son. There is a perception issue here as well as that of his own health. Can he be counted on to be able to make it through the whole season? If they’re trying for custody of the granddaughter, shouldn’t he be home more for that? There’s a lot here, it’s not about being held responsible for his son’s actions.

      • PS

        Fair enough but don’t think his health factors in. I see you are coming at it from the standpoint that you are worried about his well being which I think is commendable. There has to be a reason he chose to come back. I would like someone to ask him just that question. His son’s actions are the whole reason we are having this conversation. If he doesn’t kill that poor woman, Jerry doesn’t leave his job last year and yesterday’s press conference doesn’t happen.

  • Andy Dursin

    Feel bad for Don Orsillo. If he even asked Remy how it’s going to go, then it’s even more obvious why Orsillo seemed more upbeat and notably happier working with Eck and the other fill-in guys last season. When Remy was working with him there seemed to be a “heaviness” in the booth and the chemistry was clearly strained.

    I agree with Bruce it’s a bad idea. Between Remy returning and the Jenny Dell situation this has been a bad off-season for NESN. Plus I can’t stand Tom Caron either!

  • bsmfan

    For those wondering about the restraining order, here’s a quote from the Globe. Given the new ownership, I’m not sure how long this article will be up or remain in its current form.

    “Multiple members of Martel’s family have told the Globe that she felt pressured by the Remys to not pursue a restraining order or charges against the father of her child.”
    […]
    “Remy’s family members have not responded to news media requests about whether they asked Martel to not pursue charges.”

    http://b.globe.com/1edQ2mu (Usual, delete cookies if you get paywall)

  • latetodinner

    Bruce:

    I agree with you completely…NESN should have made the decision. From the discussion on WEEI this am with D&C it sounded like NESN wanted him back in the booth. If that is the case then there are problems upstairs at NESN as someone has no clue about PR and how this will be perceived. They probably are banking on the fact that how the team on the field does effects ratings and that the guys in the booth have no effect.

    I understand Remy wants to put this behind himself. I understand he wants to get out of the house. There were solutions to that problem without him making the Red Sox broadcast a punchline. For example…make him one of the rotating studio analysts for the year. He stays on TV only in a scaled back role. You can occasionally have him fill in or be third man in the Play by Play booth but he is not in the audiences face every day all summer. He could have spent the year handling and being involved with his licensed properties (restaurants, merchandising etc). He could have been a media ambassador or done speaking engagements. There are lots of things he can do.

    I think the real problem here is there is no precedent for a famous person who is on the air daily to have a son commit murder. When Christian Brando had his issues his father having already cut back some disappeared from the limelight. This is a unique case. At some level even though it is not directly Remy’s fault…his presence reminds the world of his son’s transgressions. Therefore, the decision to keep him on at NESN in a full time role was wrong. I know I will have a hard time listening to the silly banter in the context of all that has happened. I can’t imagine with Don O will be thinking,

  • BigPaw

    Maybe Remy should take this opportunity to refocus.Instead of pimping trinkets and hot dogs, maybe speak out about domestic violence and become an advocate. Maybe he should, but he won’t, and nobody at NESN is adult enough to point out the elephant in the room !

  • bullock

    I started to type a comment that was more even-handed, looking at this from both NESN’s and Jerry Remy’s perspectives, but the more I typed the second half, the more I feel like this is Remy being selfish. Look, he himself didn’t (allegedly) murder anyone. At worst, he’s a negligent dad. That is no reason to lose your job, in sports or otherwise.

    And I can understand Remy’s need to be busy again. I cannot fathom how both families are dealing with this horrific situation. But at some point you have to stand up and be the head of your family. Even if he was “Dad of the Year,” there’s no guarantee that his family turns out well-adjusted. I’m sure we all know ass-clown juice-heads from Somerville with perfectly normal parents. But his family — and the Martell family — need him. He messed up by obstructing that restraining order. What’s wrong with admitting at least that much?

    But you know what? Who says that if Remy isn’t in the booth that he has to “sit at home?” Why not immerse yourself in some philanthropic work? Why not accept the fact that you had a hand — however tangential — in the death of Jennifer Martel? Surely your name, and some degree of a mea culpa, could be lent to work with some sort of survivors of abuse group? Nothing will bring Jennifer Martel back, but what if he could help in working to prevent the next Jennifer Martel? He is in the unique position to help, but guffawing with Orsillo and Wally are more important to him.

    How is it that a man can confront cancer, but not have the strength to face the demons in his own house?

    • daver

      “At worst, he’s a negligent dad.”

      No — at worst, he’s an active enabler of a repeat violent criminal whose protective efforts helped lead to a woman being killed. At BEST he’s a negligent dad.

  • srh

    It sounds like everyone at NESN and the Red Sox were way too focused on the question of if he WANTED to come back, rather than whether he SHOULD come back.

    I agree with you, Bruce- I can’t see this as anything other than a terrible idea. And reading Remy’s statement and interviews, it sounds like he feels ambivalent at best about returning to the booth.

    He would be better served by taking some other role with the Sox, as latetodinner pointed out, and combining that with some charity work.

  • OpinionNotFact

    I appreciate how that wasn’t easy for you to write, Bruce, but this is very easy for me to write:
    Get off my television, Jerry Remy. Yesterday, if possible.

  • Scott

    I have been really surprised to hear the media reaction to this one. As a big sports fan and casual media observer, a man being allowed and choosing to keep his job even though his son has been arrested and will be tried for murder is a non-story. I get that having a high profile job makes it more open to scrutiny but the idea that this is a hot topic for debate on radio and online seems odd.

    Bruce, your points about whether it will be a mistake in the long term may be valid, however, I don’t understand any surprise towards he wanting to continue a career he has worked hard for and NESN not feeling able to fire someone as a result of their family grief, just as any other buisness would react to the same situation.

    • latetodinner

      Scott,

      The only difference in this case to a “normal” business is that Remy is given a microphone and 3-4 hours a night to talk (all ad-lib) about baseball and life. If he were the producer of the broadcast then I would completely agree with you. The issue and why this is a hot topic for debate is that he is the de facto voice and face (along with Donny O) of the Boston Red Sox. Let’s not forget the Red Sox own NESN and they are in the business of presenting their games. But not stepping in and reducing/eliminating Remy’s role in those broadcasts they are opening themselves up to criticism. They had options. Some mucky-muck CHOSE to allow him back on the air and represent the franchise not only on NESN broadcasts but on the WEEI radio spots he does and to other media across the country. Questions unrelated to the Red Sox are going to be asked. Remy can say he does not want to talk about those things but when he does the legitimacy of the work he and Donny O does will be diminished.

      In the end sports are an escape. As Earl Warren once said… “I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.” To be reminded day in and day out that the broadcaster’s son committed a murder affects Remy’s ability to do his job and my ability to enjoy the broadcast because it directly brings up a man’s failure. Remy has a right to work. He should work. He has a lot of business opportunity out there between the restaurants and his licensing empire. NESN however is under no obligation to keep him on the air full time and you would think someone over there would recognize to do so will be difficult; especially for people who know people who are victims or were victims of domestic violence.

      • Scott

        I see your point about him being the face of the organization and NESN/Red Sox choosing to keep him there. I can also see the point that it may affect his job down the line. What I don’t buy is that large numbers of people are going to be unable to watch the game or believe his knowledge of baseball because they know his son committed a murder last year.

        If this had gone the other way, I wonder if we’d be seeing headlines about the Red Sox and NESN “Turning their backs on beloved broadcaster during tough time”.

        A lot has changed with a World Series win and a group of likeable winners on the team but it wasn’t long ago that Remy would have ranked in the top 5 most liked “members” of the Red Sox. I don’t think its far fetched to believe that the majority of people tuning into the tv show are going to support him when to our knowledge at least, he has done nothing wrong personally.

        By the way, i have never been a Remy lover and would probably prefer Eck full time. I was just shocked that so many people were surprised by this outcome. It would be really interesting to see what sales have been like at the multiple restaurants that bare his name. I have no evidence to back this up but anecdotally they seem as crowded as ever and obviously haven’t felt the need to change the restaurant’s name. I just don’t think the general public will react to this the way the media has.

        • bsmfan

          Interesting point on the “turning their backs”. It’d obviously not be coming out of the Globe, NESN or WEEI, but I wonder if the other publications would have said something like it with all of the circling the wagons you see today defending the decision.

          There seems to be an even split here. When I checked on SoSH, it seems to lean supporting him, but more of a 60/40. On some survey, I forget where, and the boston.com comments section, it is more 80/20 in favor of him.

        • latetodinner

          I think Dave R from the beginning has had the best beat on all of this. At Best Remy is guilt of being a bad parent, at worst he is guilty of enabling his son, interfering with the mother of his granddaughter’s ability to get a restraining order, and by extension an accessory to murder even though he will never be charged. So yes every time he makes a joke about some inane observation….I will be thinking…I am glad you think that is funny, Jerry…maybe next time your son is a violent threat to a defenseless woman you might take the situation more seriously.

          A little harsh sure…but I think NESN has zero empathy for the Martels or domestic violence by allowing him on the air this much all year. You are probably right, people will not tune out or stop going to his restaurants (although I was in Logan airport last week with 2 hours to kill and deliberately did not go to Remy’s), because of this. That does not mean they shouldn’t and it does not mean that NESN should have left him in the booth. If we are right, the product on the field dictates who watches and not who is in the booth…then NESN could have removed him with no ill ratings effect just as easily as they left him there.

      • HighWireNickEsasky

        “I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments…”

        I wish this were remotely the case.

        • bullock

          Spot on.

    • Homer Greenz

      Agreed, it’s a non-story. Fire him because he’s a boring hack.

  • bsmfan

    To change the topic a little, the Herald seems to have an interesting bit on WEEI:

    “Entercom Boston boss Phil Zachary and his crew are taking a hard look at the midday and afternoon-drive shows — currently featuring Lou Merloni and Mike Mutnansky and Michael Holley and Mike Salk — and have reached out to Ordway, who was axed last February by former Entercom boss Jeff Brown.

    “I like Glenn and I’d like to find a way to bring him back,” Zachary told the Track. “There’s no concrete offer on the table now, we’re still in the discussion phase, but it’s a possibility.”

    http://bostonherald.com/inside_track/the_inside_track/2014/01/weei_to_glenn_ordway_come_back

    • Homer Greenz

      Glenn at 10 am with Merloni? It’s really amazing that Mutt and Lou have lasted as long as they have – it seems like WEEI waving the white flag. The show is ALWAYS unlistenable. If they get Ordway back, he’s immediately the best of that morning-afternoon bunch. Doesn’t he have to go against his old sidekicks DB Felger and “but, Glenn” Tony Mazz?

      • bsmfan

        Problem is: if they expect to bring him back to relive the old days, it’s not exactly a smart strategy. Ordway was losing to F+M by a bit long before they parted ways. Maybe, if the show was different, would it work, and if he’s not doing the 2-6.

  • LocalSportStuff

    Get busy at http://www.janedoe.org instead.

    “I can’t sit there. I just can’t sit in my chair. I’ve been there long enough already. I’ve got to be busy. I’ve got to do something to preoccupy myself. I need to do something I enjoy.”

  • bsmfan

    Here’s one survey from the ProJo:

    http://i.imgur.com/VH4eSLt.png

    89% favor.

    Article link: http://www.providencejournal.com/topics/photos/sports/red-sox/20140127-jerry-remy-announces-he-will-return-to-red-sox-broadcast-booth.ece

    You have to wonder if it does come out, as Remy almost hints to, that his wife didn’t want the restraining order->which would have meant him in jail, you have to wonder if this all changes, even if it was his wife.

    Chad Finn also posted his thoughts (favors him coming back):

    http://bo.st/1neQyV4

    • OpinionNotFact

      Well, I guess I’m pretty clearly in the minority.
      Oh schwell. It doesn’t stop me from watching.

  • bsmfan

    I wondered if part of this was him and NESN testing the waters to see what the reaction was.

    • H25

      I think you may be spot on

  • ben

    I think Remy is being selfish in returning but I don’t think NESN or any of us should be factoring in Remy’s physical or mental health. The Martel family is all that matters. Remy didn’t do it but should show them the respect of another year off before considering a return.

  • Homer Greenz

    I’ve wanted Remy gone and it has nothing to do with his kids.

  • smack_libs_around

    Danny Shaughnessy’s latest screed is titled, “David Ortiz’s contract talk is selfish, offensive.” That’s as far as I got…the headline. To read even the first word of his sniffy, snarly piece would have cost me 99 cents.

  • Joe Jones

    Well said Bruce.. This has NESN all over it. It’s their decision not his.