Sean McDonough tells M&C he's thrilled to call Red Sox games again and speaks candidly about 'Monday Night Football' booth

Alex Reimer
February 14, 2019 - 10:41 am

Sean McDonough is returning home to call Red Sox games for the first time in 15 years. The longtime broadcaster will be part of this season’s revamped Red Sox booth, which will feature at least eight broadcasters sitting alongside Red Sox Hall of Famer Joe Castiglione. 

McDonough will handle roughly 30 dates, with veteran broadcasters Josh Lewin and Mario Impemba receiving the bulk of contests. Chris Berman, Dave O’Brien and Tom Caron will also call select games and WEEI mainstays Lou Merloni and Dale Arnold will be involved, too. 

Merloni will occasionally be paired in a three-man booth with McDonough and Castiglione.

In an interview Thursday on “Mut & Callahan,” McDonough, who’s worked at ESPN since departing NESN in 2004, says he’s thrilled to come back and do what he’s always loved.

“The opportunity to come back and do something I loved doing 15 years-plus ago –– it’s really the first thing I dreamed about doing when I was five or six years old,” he said. “I’m at the point in my life where I want to do things that will be fun. I love Red Sox baseball, I love broadcasting, and I especially love doing it on the radio. It’s been frustrating to me over the years. I’ve had very little opportunity to do radio play-by-play. Every year, for the last three or four years, I’ve had the chance to do the College Football National Championship Game for ESPN Radio. It’s been a total blast, and I’ve said many times, I would love the opportunity to do more games on the radio. So to have it be the Red Sox, a very short commute to Fenway Park, and to have it be with Joe Castiglione, who as you guys know, is one of the nicest guys on the planet, and some other people –– I might have a chance to do some guys with Dave O’Brien, who as you guys know, is awesome. He’s a really good friend. The chance to work with Lou will be fun, too. I appreciate what he’s done when I’ve heard him in the booth. There was no downside for me.”

McDonough left NESN unceremoniously 15 years ago, but says he doesn’t hold any grudges towards Red Sox ownership. He also vows to maintain his cynicism, which reportedly drew the ire of NFL officials. McDonough was removed from the “Monday Night Football” broadcast last year after two seasons.

Speaking of which, McDonough says he didn’t hear much of the new MNF team last season, but feels like they should’ve taken more of an understated approach heading into their debut campaign.

“I think the part of it that bothered me, if there was a part of it that bothered me, is there was an awful lot of talk about ‘the chemistry is going to be awesome and we’re going to change this whole thing and blah blah blah,’” he explained. “I just think you should get on there and do it first, and then let people judge, rather than say, ‘We’re going to have awesome chemistry and be tremendous together.’ Just go on and do it, and let people evaluate it for what it is. I think if they had to do it over again as a group, they would have said less before they started. But I thought they got better as they went along, which is natural.”

When McDonough joined “Kirk & Callahan” last year, he said he was pleased to be removed from MNF and head back to college football. He reiterated that statement Thursday.

“I think anybody who watched the college football I did this year could tell I was very happy to be back doing it,” he said. “The atmosphere is different –– one isn’t better than the other –– I just happen to enjoy the college game a little bit more and think whatever my skill are as a broadcaster are probably better suited in that environment. There’s a lot more storytelling about the players and coaches. That’s what I’m good at. I think there was an opportunity to do that on ‘Monday Night Football,’ but Jon Gruden wanted to get deep into the strategy of the game, and more or less analyze every play. And when that’s happening, there’s not a lot of opportunity for the play-by-play guy to do those things, or engage in conversation. He wanted to get into the, ‘Why did this play work or not work, and what is the strategy behind it?’ He basically wanted to do that down after down after down, so that’s the way it went. I’m happy I am where I am right now.”

And now, McDonough will get to spend some of his summer calling Red Sox games at Fenway Park. Post-MNF life is treating him pretty well.