During a summer that was filled with injustice and tyranny from Roger Goodell and the deflategate saga, I didn’t think it remotely possible that any other sports related event could be on the same level in terms of absolute disrespect for one of the all time greats in their respective positions. When the news leaked that NESN was planning to fire Don Orsillo at the end of the season, I was stunned, devastated, and furious all at the same time. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was a Top 3 most upsetting Red Sox moment since I started following the team avidly in 2006.
What people outside of Boston might not fully understand is how special the dynamic duo of Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy in the broadcasting booth is. I have listened to countless amounts of different broadcasting crews across all sports, both local and national, but Orsillo and Remy are BY FAR the best in the business. It seriously is not even close. They are the complete package in terms of baseball knowledge, chemistry with each other, being well-spoken, having a passion for the Red Sox and baseball, and also being entertaining and hilarious often times. Red Sox fans will tell you that the only reason they tuned in to games late in the season as the Red Sox are heading toward a last place finish for the 3rd time in 4 years is because they can always count on an entertaining broadcast crew that will keep you engaged even during a blowout.
Of course, it is fair to point out that I may be biased, so I will let the reaction to Orsillo’s firing do the talking. First, there was a petition on change.org which over 60,000 people signed in an attempt to keep Orsillo with NESN (https://www.change.org/p/john-henry-nesn-petition-to-keep-don-orsillo-at-nesn).
Second, there is the emotional reaction from his partner Jerry Remy who was literally crying as he told reporters “For the last 15 years, it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Don…I know that he’s going to land on his feet and he’s going to be in great shape. I’m sure they’re going to be lining up for his services. I really mean that. He’s terrific at what he does, he’s been absolutely fabulous to work with. I love him, and he’s going to do just fine.”
Third, there is the fan reaction. NESN head of communications Joseph Marr was straight up bullied off of Twitter for the decision to the point where he was receiving death threats. Fans consistently brought pro-Don Orsillo signs to Fenway and chanted his name at the games alongside chants of Free Brady! That’s right, Don Orsillo is on par with Tom Brady in terms of the honor, respect, and appreciation for being the best at what he does.
Finally, there are the tributes to Orsillo. Name another broadcaster who gets treated like Derek Jeter in the final game of his career with the team. Name another broadcaster who has his own highlight reel of broadcasting moments. Name another duo of commentators that influenced a team as much as Orsillo and Remy did. You can’t. My final piece of evidence is this: New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi approached Don Orsillo during the Yankees last series with Red Sox in September and personally encouraged and congratulated him on a great Red Sox career.
I still can’t believe that Don Orsillo will be gone the next time I watch a Red Sox broadcast. I’ve loved watching and hearing them commentate games for the last decade and I’m still very much upset at how he was disrespected and backstabbed by NESN. Despite having every reason in the world to rip NESN apart, Don Orsillo has taken the high road every step of the way and been humble and grateful to the city and to the fans of Boston for showing him appreciate he deserves. Don Orsillo will truly be missed and Red Sox baseball on TV will never be the same again without him.