Although it feels like yesterday, Friday marks the one month anniversary of the Boston Red Sox much ballyhooed announcement of broadcaster Don Orsillo’s termination. The decision was cited by Red Sox management as a means to invigorate stagnant NESN telecasts, while retaining the services of nationally acclaimed play-by-play man Dave O’Brien, who previously called Red Sox games on WEEI radio.
As the news rapidly filtered through social media and the friction between NESN and Orsillo became public knowledge, considerable backlash quickly spread amongst Red Sox fans against club brass, already feeling the anguish of a second consecutive sub-.500 campaign. Many surmised that Orsillo had been considered a scapegoat or whipping boy for the overall dysfunction surrounding the club, taking the focus away from the events on the field. Orsillo remained quiet throughout this period, displaying the class and professionalism which endeared him to Red Sox Nation as he prepared to call the final stretch of games with Jerry Remy along with his final series at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox broadcast team.
With just over a week remaining in the 2015 season, the Boston Globe has learned that the San Diego Padres could be Orsillo’s next landing spot. The Padres will soon have a void in the broadcast booth following the recent retirement announcement of Ford Frick Award winner Dick Enberg at the conclusion of next season. The eighty year old Enberg, who primarily was known for his national work with NBC and CBS Sports as one of their lead voices for the National Football League, joined the Padres in 2010, calling roughly 120 games per season in his first foray in baseball since 1985 as the voice of the California Angels.
It is conceivable that Orsillo could fill in for Enberg next season before taking the reins of the position full time once Enberg retires the following year. Orsillo may also have the option of calling Major League Baseball for FOX Sports as part of a possible deal with the Padres and FOX Sports San Diego. Another possible suitor is ESPN which will have an opening on its Monday night telecasts which are currently called by Orsillo’s Red Sox successor Dave O’Brien. In any case, Orsillo remains under contract with Boston through the end of the season.
In the meantime a petition urging the Red Sox to keep Orsillo currently has over 60,000 signatures and the furor of the Royal Rooters remains as fresh as it was a month earlier. Fans will seek to express their displeasure this weekend at Fenway Park, with banners, signage, and symbols bearing Orsillo’s name or appearance, likely to be confiscated or discarded by stadium security, at the direction of Red Sox’ brass, during the final home series of the season.
A widespread cliche says that time heals all wounds, but between Yawkey Way and Landsdowne Street the scars remain from the bloodshed of Orsillo’s firing. Though losing the one occupation he dreamed of since his youth and performed capably in for fifteen years stings like a knife placed squarely in the stomach, his professionalism, character, and dedication will enable him to succeed at any new endeavor as he’s gained more than he lost from the baseball world.