If you don’t live in New England, then you probably don’t remember who Jerry Remy is. He’s the 1970’s ballplayer who has served as the color commentator for the Boston Red Sox television network for over a decade. Beloved by Sox fans, Remy has been out for the 2009 season as he battles lung cancer.
To fill the hole in the broadcast booth, the New England Sports Network (NESN) has used several guest announcers, but has recently settled on a two man rotation consisting of Dennis Eckersley and Dave Roberts. This blog is my own personal feedback on their performances thus far, and a chance for fellow watchers to chime in.
We’ll start with the good: Eckersley is surprisingly awesome to listen to. Let’s start with his voice: Eck has a certain country twang that is very unique. He doesn’t sound southern, not exactly midwestern, he just talks in a way that I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone talk before. His Wikipedia entry tells me he was born and raised in California, which thoroughly befuddles me. He sounds very relaxed at all times, perhaps to a fault, as he let a four letter word slip out on the air last month. Eck comments on the game as you would expect a former pitcher to. He discusses pitch selection very frequently. He also introduces the viewer to lots of baseball slang that I had never heard before. I suspect he is making many of these terms up as he goes, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
And now for the bad. Dave Roberts is another beloved figure in Red Sox history: his stolen base in the 2004 ALCS is often credited as the cataclysmic play of that history-changing series. And him taking the broadcast booth seemed a natural way for Sox fans to better get to know him, since Roberts only played for the Sox for a partial season. But my advice to Roberts is simple: quit while you’re ahead. Roberts has a relatively boring voice, which he can’t do much about. But the real problem is that I have yet to hear him add a single interesting thing to the broadcast. He regularly compliments ballplayers for being “great,” and he loves to describe the obvious. Over the weekend, he explained why during a very hot day game in Atlanta, Kevin Youkilis was rubbing a cold towel over his head in the dugout. (I’m not exaggerating, he went into great detail about how a cold towel can refresh you and rejuvenate you between innings.)
So there you have it, the good and the bad. I think color commentators in baseball have one of the most tricky jobs. There are so many that I cannot stand. My hope is that if/when Jerry Remy returns to his post, that Eckersley will get some future opportunities somewhere to keep calling games.