NESN has added a few former Red Sox to their team this season
Some familiar faces will be back on the screen when you tune in for Boston Red Sox games this season.
According to the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn, Ellis Burks is joining NESN as a color and studio analyst on Red Sox broadcasts. Dennis Eckersley and Jerry Remy’s roles won’t change so we should still expect to see them alongside play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien in NESN’s three-man booth for the majority of the season. Neither typically works a full 162-game schedule though, so when Eck or Remy need a day off, Burks can step in. When he’s not in the booth, Burks will join the pre- and postgame shows.
Burks was selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the 1983 draft. He spent the first six years of his career in Boston and briefly returned for a farewell season at the end of his career in 2004. He hit .280 with a .796 OPS and 94 home runs during his tenure with the Red Sox. Burks had a career year in 1990 when he was selected to the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award.
Vaughn was one of the team’s biggest stars in the 90s. He spent his first eight years with the Red Sox, hitting .304 with a .936 OPS and 230 home runs. Vaughn was a three-time All-Star and won the AL MVP in 1995 when he bashed 39 homers and led the league with 126 RBI.
Papelbon is the franchise’s all-time leader in saves with 219. He was an All-Star in four of his seven seasons with the Red Sox. Papelbon owned a 2.33 ERA that trails only Koji Uehara (2.19 ERA) for the best by a reliever in franchise history (minimum 100 innings pitched). When Papelbon glared in at the plate with his stone cold expression, you knew the opposing batter was in trouble.
Youkilis debuted in 2004 and played a minor role with the team that broke an 86-year title drought. By 2007, he was one of the core hitters in the lineup when the Red Sox captured another World Series title. Youk hit .287 with a .875 OPS and 133 home runs during his nine seasons in Boston. He was a three-time All-Star and finished third on the MVP ballot in 2008. The Greek God of Walks always had a knack for getting on base and he provided solid defense at both corner infield spots.
The star power should infuse some new life into NESN programming as they aim to draw fans back from a miserable 2020 season.
Many fans still haven’t forgiven NESN for firing Don Orsillo several years ago. O’Brien has been unfairly criticized, in part because anyone would struggle to follow in the footsteps of the popular Orsillo. O’Brien is good at his job calling plays but his personality is too bland and he doesn’t have the chemistry with Remy that his predecessors had. Putting Eck in the booth with them gave the show a spark with Remy and his former teammate playing well off of each other, allowing OB to focus on calling the plays.
Burks can provide a similar element to the broadcast with his own insightful takes. He adds a refreshing change of pace that will help prevent the commentary from going stale regardless of what’s happening on the field.
Vaughn, Papelbon and Youk were never shy about speaking their minds during their playing days. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say about this team when they are given the chance to analyze them on the air.
The Red Sox will be a much better team this year and watching them climb out of the basement of the AL East should be plenty of incentive to tune in. Just in case that’s not enough, the collection of former stars that NESN has assembled should draw an audience.