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.