With Jerry Remy's plans to scale down his schedule, it's time for NESN to bring in some new voices

Alex Reimer
September 27, 2018 - 10:15 am

Four years ago, it seemed like NESN was attempting to position itself for the post-Remy era. Beloved color analyst Jerry Remy took an indefinite leave of absence after his son was arrested for murder towards the end of the 2013 campaign and also missed time with pneumonia that season. With Dennis Eckersley seemingly content working a part-time schedule in the booth, the network brought aboard Steve Lyons, formerly the No. 2 national analyst with Fox. 

Since then, Remy has experienced a resurgence behind the microphone, sounding as sharp as ever. Unfortunately, he’s undergone multiple battles with cancer in recent years, missing time once again this season. Remy was diagnosed with lung cancer for the fourth time in early August.

During his appearance at Fenway Park Wednesday, Remy was emphatic about his plans to return to NESN next season. That’s great news, and a testament to his incredible resilience. But Remy did reveal he’s likely done traveling, which creates a big hole in the Red Sox booth. 

“I think that the last couple of years has been a letdown from my point of view to my organization, NESN,” Remy told reporters, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “I haven't been able to fulfill my commitment of 115 games. I feel badly about that. So I've gotta look at a number that's something that I can work with and they can work with. So the days of doing all the games are long gone. The days of doing 115 are also gone. And the days of going on the road are gone. The doctors don't want me going on the road. But I think there will still be a place for me to do a good number of games, but they'll be from Fenway.”

While Eckersley’s workload has increased, it still doesn’t seem like he wants to become the full-time color analyst. And frankly, why would he? Eck has an incredible deal going right now. There’s no reason for take those August road trips to Texas if he doesn’t want to.

With that in mind, NESN’s depth chart is a little thin. Lyons has called games alongside Dave O’Brien on a sporadic basis this season, but his viability has dropped over the last couple of years, especially in the aftermath of domestic battery charges that caused him to miss the second half of the 2017 campaign (the charges were dropped). Besides, as far as color analysts are concerned, Lyons is more on the generic side. He’s a TV veteran, and tries to emulate Eckersley with a breezy and jargon-filled style, but it doesn’t carry the same level of authenticity. 

Jonny Gomes is the next man up behind Lyons, and while he leads the league in unintentional comedy –– his latest failed catchphrase came two weeks ago, when he told us it’s called “pinch-hitting” and not “pinch-seeing” –– the ex-journeyman outfielder is not ready to be calling games on a regular basis. That leaves the vanilla Lenny DiNardo. No thanks.

With Remy’s plans to scale down his schedule, it’s time for NESN to look into bringing in some outside voices to the Red Sox telecasts. The dream would be Pedro Martinez, who’s shined in his work with TBS over the last few seasons. Though David Ortiz’s broadcast work has been limited to studio analysis for Fox and TBS thus far, perhaps the iconic slugger has a hankering to call some games, too.

Outside of those two options, MLB Network’s Mike Lowell and Sean Casey are affable personalities with Red Sox connections. John Farrell is doing TV work, too, though he’s reportedly slated to interview with the Reds for their managerial opening.

In an email to me, NESN spokesman Gary Roy said the network just wants Remy to “get healthy at this point” and hasn’t moved forward on any plans for next season. But they would be wise to get ahead of the curve on this one. 

Or else, we should get ready for a lot more Jonny Gomes in our lives.