NESN announced earlier this week that sideline reporter Jenny Dell would no longer be working their broadcasts of Boston Red Sox games. Dell would instead be working a studio position, anchoring NESN Sports Today. This would have been Dell’s third season covering the team.
No replacement has yet been named.
NESN’s decision to remove Dell has of course seen plenty of scrutiny in recent days. The network has simply confirmed the news, electing to refrain from any further comments on the specific reasons for the move but public speculation seems to lean towards a pair of other factors. Dell has been courted by FOX Sports 1 in recent months, which was hardly done in secret. She’s also been living with boyfriend and Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. There’ve been rumblings for months that the pair lived together, but their relationship was not confirmed in public until this past New Year’s Eve when Middlebrooks Tweeted out a photo of the pair together that evening.
Much of the initial reaction has directed scorn and criticism Dell’s way. How could she remain impartial? How could she expect to continue in such a position, knowing she had a personal relationship with Middlebrooks? Etc. etc.
None of it has been fair.
At Boston.com on Friday an editorial on the subject was published, penned by the Obnoxious Boston Fan. He/she discusses the entire absurdity of the situation – cutting Dell and Middlebrooks some slack for living their lives while shaming NESN for making such a seemingly silly decision.
Peter Wolf and his bandmates nailed it:
Sometimes, “love stinks.”
That’s a shame. Red Sox fans have been denied the potential for TV gold this year, especially during those rare occurrences when Middlebrooks might actually contribute to a victory.
“Tell us about that double in the eighth, and how you’re sooooo much better looking than Stephen Drew …”
Even their spats would have livened things up.
“We’re here with Will Middlebrooks, who can’t seem to put the seat down each morning …”
The sense of loss is crushing.
Both residents of the Dell-Middlebrooks household are adults. You can question their motives. I won’t. There was lots of moaning about Dell’s co-habitation with Middlebrooks potentially causing some sort of “journalist conflict of interest” during Red Sox games. Sorry if I didn’t share that indignation.
NESN needed to make a decision regarding how they wanted to approach the situation and they chose to follow this path. It’s tough to argue against their decision, given the need to maintain impartiality towards the team that they are tasked with covering. It’s just a shame that the network was forced to remove a talented reporter over concerns that shouldn’t have anything to do with how she performs her job.