Red Sox games will be called remotely by NESN’s three-man booth.
Major League Baseball has implemented strict policies in an attempt to bring baseball back as safely as reasonably possible. Players and coaches aren’t the only ones with new rules to follow, as these policies also extend to the media and broadcasters.
TV broadcasters will not be allowed to travel for road games this season. The home team will provide a neutral feed that aims to give relatively equal camera time to each side so that the road announcers can call the game remotely.
While NESN’s crew is permitted to call home games from Fenway Park, play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien revealed to Chad Finn of the Boston Globe that the plan is to broadcast all 60 games from their studio in Watertown. O’Brien will be joined in studio by Remy and Eckersley.
"“I believe that we are going to do all games from NESN at this point, subject to change,” said O’Brien. “What we’re being told is that NESN will give us everything that we need, tons of monitors, different looks. There might actually be more access if players are going to be miked.”"
The decision to stay in studio may have been made in an effort to provide a controlled environment for Remy, who has repeatedly battled cancer for years. His underlying condition puts Remy at high risk for COVID-19. While MLB is doing all they can to limit the number of people granted access to ballparks, the chances of exposure remain higher at Fenway than they are at NESN’s studio.
Remy has been the color commentator for Red Sox games on NESN for over thirty years. His health has forced him to cut back on his schedule in recent years and he’s often skipped long road trips, resulting in NESN cycling through a rotating cast of commentators to pair with O’Brien. Eckersley has been one of the most frequent options and he’s joined Remy to form a three-man booth on several occasions.
Now we’ll get the trio for all 60 games this season, which is great news for Red Sox fans. Remy and Eck were teammates in Boston from 1978-1984. They have better chemistry together than either of them has with O’Brien, who tends to be a bit bland with his commentary. Putting the three of them together allows the former teammates to entertain viewers with stories from their playing days and educate them with their expert analysis while O’Brien focuses on what he’s best at, calling the play-by-play.
"“It’s a great thing that we can have our favorite booth for 60 games,” said O’Brien. “If it were 162, probably not. But 60 games, we can make that work.”"
Eckersley is always a welcome addition to the broadcast. The former Cy Young award winner and MVP has a wealth of knowledge about pitching to share and he does so with his unique style. From the various types of “cheese” thrown by pitchers to calling hitters a “pair of shoes” when they strike out looking, his “Eck-isms” have made Eckersley a fan-favorite commentator.
Holding games in empty stadiums is certain to be an odd viewing experience. Without the roaring crowd expressing excitement over a great play or complaining about a bad call, a heavier emphasis will be placed on the broadcast crew to deliver that emotional response. That’s not O’Brien’s specialty but pairing him with the veteran Remy and charismatic Eckersley will help.
The abbreviated schedule is an unfortunate result of the pandemic and a disgraceful labor dispute but at least we’ll get some baseball this year. Teaming Remy and Eck together again for every game is one of the few silver linings to this shortened season.