But there is no logic, no reason, no justification for the sacking of Don Orsillo.
Before the introduction of mlb.tv, being a baseball fan in Europe was a lonely and frustrating life. Box scores were almost our only information and sometimes even they were unobtainable. The International Herald Tribune would give the scores from games played the day before yesterday, leaving us to do the sums on standings and stats.
But the internet changed all that. Suddenly, and for the cost of a seat in a loge box down the first base line, we could watch every game, home and away, regular season and post-season. We could tune in at midnight and be taken to Fenway or the Busch Stadium or Camden Yards or Yankee Stadium to watch our beloved Sox.
And the voice of the NESN feed on these broadcasts was Don Orsillo, the doyen of play-by-play announcers. His is the only voice I have known in this context. It was a voice which was full of wit and wisdom and warmth. It was a voice which perfectly complemented the gravelly Marlborough Red tones of Jerry Remy.
I watched and listened to their final broadcast together, from Progressive Field in Cleveland, on a rickety wi-fi feed in a budget hotel in the centre of France. The Sox lost, but for once, this was not the focus of my attention. I wanted to be present when Don made his last call. And I was, in spirit, even though I was physically located nearly four thousand miles away. He had been dignified and silent over the long weeks since the abrupt announcement. He had acknowledged the fans and the players at his final Fenway broadcast, but this was the finale.
To be fair to NESN (although why should we be?), they peppered the breaks with classic moments. Jerry Remy appeared the more emotional. The game itself – actually not a bad game despite the result – took second place. And then it happened.
As the Sox saluted him, he said: “Orsillo rounding third and heading home. Unbelievably, I wave to the Red Sox for a final time. Thank you, boys.”
Unbelievably is right.
The 2016 season is going to be very different. I can see some real reasons for optimism next year: Xander, JBJ, Mookie, Castillo, Eddie Rodriguez. I have enjoyed the second half immensely. On the field, it’s been fun. But in the booth and on my iPad screen, this cloud has been hovering. I admire Dave O’Brien a great deal. I am sure he will do a great job. But it won’t be the same.
Jerry was speaking for every fan and especially those of us the baseball desert which is Europe when he said: “I want to thank you for all the fun moments we’ve had and the friendship.”
Me too. Thank you, Don, for your professionalism and your vicarious friendship.
Next year, once in a while, I will tune into mlb.tv and click on the San Diego game. Just to hear your voice and remember the last dozen years.
Today from the everysmith vaults: I am gearing up for the imminent release of the Bootleg Series Volume 12 by listening to an extraordinary boxed set of 14 CDs entitled 1965 Revisited. It includes everything Bob recorded in that annus mirabilis. Much will doubtless be incorporated into the The Cutting Edge but I can't be sure I will win the lottery to buy it.