(Photo Credit: Boston Magazine)
By Ted Gay – @TedG63
It is time to invite Jerry Remy back into my living room.
When the Sox are playing NESN is usually playing somewhere in our house, even if no one is watching. It is in the background during supper, continues while we clean up, is on while we are on our computers or reading, and if it lasts long enough accompanies us when we go to bed,
Baseball is the perfect ambient sound. The crack of the bat, the ball smacking against leather, the hum of the crowd, and the most constant noise, the announcer’s chatter. They are the ones we invite into our living room. We are usually comfortable with them, like an old friend or family members. But last year our living room was filled with strangers.
For 16 years Don Orsillo was a welcome addition to our home. We were already used to Jerry Remy, and he got along well with this Orsillo chap, so we gave him a chance. Soon his voice was as welcome as Remy’s. When the former second baseman had to take numerous leaves Orsillo’s voice was so reassuring that we barely noticed the unwelcome replacements like Roy Smalley, Frank Viola, Jim Katt or Tony Massarotti. (Although I believe I would recall Maz’s reading the starting lineup: “Jacoby Ellsbury, leading off, has no sack; Dustin Pedroia, not a leader, batting second; David Ortiz, selfish, hitting third; Jason Bay, man does he suck right Jim Murray? batting fourth, JD Drew, a crappy signing, batting fifth.”)
But when Remy took ill last year, we were still getting used to Dave O’Brien who, while not responsible, we blamed for kicking Orsillo out of our living room. Suddenly we had a bunch of strangers sounding off in our home while we were still leary of O’Brien.
Sure, there was Eck, and we all love Eck. He’s hilarious; he’s insightful, he is the life of the party. But a little Eck goes a long way. Having Eck over the house for a weekend? Fantastic! A week? Tolerable. More than that and all the “Educated Salad,” “Easy cheese,” and “You just got your lunch” starts to wear thin. And it’s just a matter of time before Eck looks at my wife’s pot roast and go “Yeecccchh!” Believe me, David Price on a plane doesn’t have shit on my wife in a kitchen.
There were too many nights last year when I came home to hear an unfamiliar voice in the living room. Sure, it was cool to meet Wade Boggs. But Mike Tomlin sounded like he didn’t want to be there, Jared Saltamachia was a terrible conversationalist, and Lenny Dinardo claimed to know us, but I had no memory of him. I did enjoy Jonny Gomes acting like one of the goofy teenage boys my sister would bring home who desperately tried to make my parents laugh and, upon many failures, switched to vague mumbles then total silence. I didn’t trust Todd Walker. Any player who gets better looking after he retires is either living some Benjamin Button life or is too meta sexual for the broadcast booth. The random pairings made our soothing background noise grating, not to mention when the game would go into extra innings O’Brien demanded we order pizza for him.
It may seem strange to constantly have the television on, but it is a family tradition. My mother would leave the radio playing when we left the house in case robbers came to the door so they would think Dave Maynard lived there and was talking to a guy in Methuen about that goddamn Dukakis. (For you kids out there Dukakis was the political John Farrell of the 80’s.) Today you don’t leave an appliance on to scare away prowlers. You go to a restaurant, take pictures of your food, and post it online, so criminals will know exactly how much time they have to rob you.
But come summer I won’t have that problem. The Rem Dawg will be back on my couch, his soothing voice scaring off robbers, while Dave O’Brien gets another chance to be part of the family.
So beunas noches muchachos it is time to play ball