Ranking the NESN broadcast fill-ins: Wade Boggs has been the best of the motley crew

Alex Reimer
August 10, 2017 - 10:55 am

Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like the game of musical chairs in the NESN broadcast booth will continue for the rest of the season. 

Beloved analyst Jerry Remy announced Wednesday he’s still recovering from the lung cancer surgery he underwent in June and will start receiving chemotherapy treatments later this month. Though Remy didn’t address his possible return, it’s fair to surmise he’ll be recuperating from chemotherapy throughout September, and not calling baseball games. 

Under usual circumstances, Remy’s prolonged absence would mean lots of Steve Lyons in the booth. But Lyons has been taken off the air due to a domestic battery charge. The Boston Globe reported last weekend the charges stem from an incident between Lyons and his girlfriend at Lyons’ Hermosa Beach, Calif. home in January.

Dennis Eckersley will likely work the majority of home games the rest of the way, but he’s never expressed a willingness to travel regularly with the team –– airplane confrontations aside. He’ll call this weekend’s series in New York against the Yankees, however. 

In addition to Eckersley, the Red Sox have used three color analysts over the last two weeks: Mike Timlin, Jonny Gomes and Wade Boggs. All of them are television novices, which means the onus falls on veteran play-by-play man Dave O’Brien to bring them along. This is an area where Don Orsillo excelled. He worked with 29 different partners over the years, ranging from our very own Rob Bradford to random ex-big leaguers like Rex Hudler and Ron Coomer.

None of the newbies have been particularly good, but Boggs and Gomes have each brought their own flair to the booth. The three newest additions to the NESN team are ranked below:

1) Wade Boggs

Boggs was rather milquetoast during his two-game stint in Tampa Bay, but his Hall of Fame stature propels him above Gomes and Timlin. The praise he heaped on Andrew Benintendi’s swing, for example, is noteworthy.

But Boggs is at the top of this list because of his eccentricities. The legendary third baseman didn’t bother to shave his Geico Caveman-like beard before appearing in front of the cameras, which produced a lot of unintended entertainment value. 

He also spouted off several “Boggsisms” that were mildly assuming. When discussing Eduardo Nunez Wednesday, Boggs said the infielder “couldn’t be hotter if he were standing on the sun barefoot.”

It’s uncertain whether Boggs will call games again this season (he lives full-time in the Tampa Bay area), but he proved he’s worthy of another chance –– as long as he remembers to stop talking when it’s time for commercial break.

2) Jonny Gomes

Gomes was brash as a player, infamously telling Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in a postgame World Series interview that even though his WAR is low, he’s the kind of person you “want to go to war with.”

Got it. 

Unfortunately, Gomes didn’t carry that highly charged persona into the NESN booth. He mostly spoke in a nondescript monotone, mumbling his way through the telecast. 

That’s not to say there weren’t entertaining moments. Gomes’ banter with David Ortiz during the 2007 World Series celebration was a breezy listen, and aesthetically, it was unique to see a person who looks like Gomes –– long beard, tattooed arms –– calling a sporting event. He also had the longest stint in the booth, announcing five games over the last home stand. 

But there was one embarrassing moment that will be difficult for Gomes to live down. When Indians centerfielder Austin Jackson made perhaps the greatest catch in Fenway history, Gomes wondered whether the out was still recorded, because Jackson had fallen into the bullpen with the ball in his glove. Apparently, Gomes has never seen a player catch a foul ball in the stands, or bothered to read the rulebook during his 13-year big league career –– most of which was spent playing in the outfield.

3) Mike Timlin

Few Red Sox fans saw much of Timlin, considering he called three games in Seattle. And that’s a good thing. He was boring, dry and chock full of cliches. Timlin’s stint went so poorly, he defended himself on Twitter afterwards.

“For everyone that commented on my work this week. Next time you FREAKING try it. #notthateasy,” he wrote

That’s never a good sign.