The Media Column: Anchor Jorge Andres speaks out about his abrupt departure from NBC Sports Boston

Alex Reimer
April 11, 2019 - 1:01 pm

One of the prevailing mysteries in the gossipy world of Boston sports media is what happened with Jorge Andres at NBC Sports Boston. The veteran anchor, who worked at ESPN for four years prior to his hiring, left the regional network before he even hit the air. Further complicating matters, NBC Sports Boston parted ways with its Red Sox reporter, Evan Drellich, to make room for Andres in an apparent reshuffling. It was expected to place less emphasis on day-to-day Red Sox coverage this season, resulting in the Drellich-for-Andres swap.

But just weeks later, the network hired John Tomase to –– drum roll please –– cover the Red Sox every day. Tomase started with the NBC Monday and has already filed six stories. 

The Red Sox have played one game over that span.

So, what gives? WEEI recently posed this question to an NBC Sports Boston spokesperson, who said: “Jorge will not be joining us at NBC Sports Boston due to personal reasons. We respect his decision, and wish him the best of luck in the future.”

That seems logical enough, but the rumors continue to persist. It’s been whispered that Andres oversold his connection to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, with whom he’d worked at ESPN. That would also explain his sudden departure, and frankly, is much more interesting to discuss with colleagues during commercial breaks.

WEEI reached Andres Wednesday to ask him about all of this hearsay. He vehemently denies the accusation.

“I never embellished my relationship with Alex,” he said in a phone call. “(Those reports are) 1,000-percent fabricated.” 

Andres says he told NBC he enjoys a professional relationship with Cora, but didn’t insinuate anything beyond that. The TV anchor says he applied for the job with an audition tape.

While Andres says he was excited about the prospect of working in Boston, he had to tend to his “personal matter.” He insists he was “never fired” from NBC Sports Boston and remains on good terms with the station. 

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David Price generated headlines earlier this week when he ripped MLB for not marketing Mookie Betts and other African-American stars. “Put (Betts) on commercials. That's how this game grows. MLB is probably the worst at marketing their players. They need to do a better job of that,” he told MassLive’s Christopher Smith. “Market the African American stars in baseball better. And the other players. Everybody. Market us better.”

Price’s rant about Betts’ lack of exposure mirrors the criticism often launched at MLB for not more aggressively promoting its best player, Mike Trout. At last year’s All-Star Game, commissioner Rob Manfred put the blame on Trout, saying the two-time MVP winner must “make a decision to engage.” 

Manfred was asked about Price’s comments about Betts during his visit with the WEEI booth on Opening Day this week. The commissioner said MLB did ask Betts to participate in a national ad campaign this year, but he declined.

“We accept responsibility for marketing our stars as aggressively as possible,” Manfred told Joe Castiglione and Lou Merloni. “Mookie was invited to be in the ‘Let the Kids Play’ commercial, and for whatever set of reasons it didn’t work out. He see him as a very marketable player.” 

Those comments from Manfred echo Tom Werner’s words on “Dale & Keefe.” The Red Sox chairman also said this week MLB asked Betts to participate in a national promotional spot.

While it’s nice baseball wanted Betts to take part in one campaign, the anecdotal episode hardly explains why the reigning AL MVP isn’t more visible. If MLB truly wants Betts to be one of the faces of the game, it could find a way to work around his schedule. After all, baseball players are off for four straight months.

That’s assuming, of course, that Betts even wants to be in commercials. He did star in an R.B.I Baseball ad in 2016 and had his own Body Armour sports drink commercial last year, but is hardly the ubiquitous presence that David Ortiz or other Red Sox stars have been over the years. The Red Sox’ best player is not the face of Dunkin’ Donuts –– like Ortiz –– nor any other major local brand. Though questions may exist about baseball’s enthusiasm towards marketing its star players, surely Boston-based companies are dying for the chance to affiliate themselves with the MVP.

The fact that Betts isn’t part of any major local ad campaigns indicates he might not want to put himself out there like his predecessors. He did decline to take part in two WEEI interviews this Spring Training, when “Mut & Callahan” and OMF were broadcasting live from JetBlue Park.

Obviously, Betts isn’t obligated to plaster his face on billboards or TV screens all over New England. But it would be a mistake not to. In order to become a beloved figure like Ortiz, you must put yourself out there more and let people know your personality. Maybe that’s not important to Betts. But if it isn’t, he takes the blame for his lack of recognition, not MLB. 

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There was lots of fervor on social media Wednesday night about an op-ed in the Boston Globe directing restaurant patrons and staffers to shame disgraced Secretary of Homeland Security and child separator Kirstjen Nielsen whenever she dines out in public. The piece’s author, Luke O’Neil, also advocated for servers to tamper with her food, saying one of his biggest regrets was not urinating in conservative pundit and Iraq War champion Bill Kristol’s salmon 10 years ago when he worked at a restaurant in Cambridge. 

Or, at least, that’s what the piece said before it was edited. Chief Globe critics Kirk Minihane, Gerry Callahan, Lou Merloni, Howie Carr, his producer Steve Robinson, and a litany of WEEI P1 listeners quickly highlighted and shared the offending lede on Twitter. The column closed with the following kicker: “As for the waiters out there, I’m not saying you should tamper with anyone’s food, as that could get you into trouble. You might lose your serving job. But you would be serving America.”

Within hours, the lede was changed to say: “One of the biggest regrets in my life was serving Bill Kristol salmon and not telling the neoconservative pundit and chief Iraq War cheerleader what I really thought about him.” That followed the original edit, which swapped out the phrase “pissing in Bill Kristol’s salmon” with “defiling Bill Kristol’s salmon.”

The aforementioned kicker is also gone, replaced with O’Neil instructing restaurant-goers to tell ex-Trump officials how they feel in a “specific and traditional Boston colloquialism.” That was originally the penultimate graf. 

“A version of this column as originally published did not meet Globe standards and has been changed,” the editor’s note reads. “The Globe regrets the previous tone of the piece.”

While Callahan and Co. act like they are outraged about a Globe contributor glibly suggesting restaurant servers mess with Nielsen’s food, that’s not what this is about, of course. This is a game of tit-for-tat. They believe the Globe and other “social justice warrior” publications lead crusades to get media people fired for making tawdry or disparaging remarks. So they’re giving the Globe a taste of its own medicine, which explains why some dug through O’Neil’s tweets, and posted screenshots of offensive slurs. 

In this case, one could say the Globe is just experiencing some good ol' fashioned commeuppance. After all, the paper has published op-eds chastising WEEI for the tone of our discourse. And yet, they're paying a columnist who's routinely tweeted the "C-Word" and cavalierly used disparaging slurs that refer to special needs children. 

The Globe's hypocrisy shows nobody is clean, and is a shining example why all of this disingenuous madness must end. It seems like many people in this country –– and my friends on the PC left are the main offenders here –– will not rest until everyone with whom they disagree is out of work. Even worse, media companies often fold to this faux outrage, which is likely why O’Neil’s column was edited.

If Donald Trump has taught us anything, it’s that most of these controversies pass. It’s time for advertisers and media organizations to recognize that and not cave. The mob will only stop when it loses its influence.

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