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Red Sox fans have final say on Jerry Remy

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  January 27, 2014 10:51 PM

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Jerry Remy - AP.jpgJerry Remy and Don Orsillo will be back together in the NESN booth this season. But they won't be alone.

Jerry Remy will be back in the NESN broadcast booth this season.

He'll be joined by long-time play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo.

But there will be a third member of their broadcast team present each night, unseen and unheard.

Remy spoke Monday at length about his decision to come back to the Red Sox broadcasts for his 27th season. Throughout his meeting with reporters, he continually expressed his condolences, feelings of sadness, empathy and sympathy toward the family of Jennifer Martel. She was stabbed to death last August, allegedly by Jared Remy, two days after he was charged in her assault.

It's too soon to judge if Remy's decision to return to the NESN Red Sox broadcasts was the right one for Remy and for the millions of Red Sox fans who faithfully tune in nightly.

The Patriots and their fans dealt went through a similar exercise following the arrest of and murder charges filed against Aaron Hernandez. The crimes he was accused of committing bare no equivalence to the game of football. They are in different universes. In the real world, Hernandez stands accused of being a wanton psychopath who killed a man in cold blood, presumably because he may have known about another murder Hernandez committed. In the football world, he shafted his teammates, his coach, the team's owner and Patriots fans by his actions, which ultimately proved critical given the team's lack of a legitimate deep-threat target.

It's easy for adults to separate those two worlds, especially since most of us were not personally affected by Hernandez's [alleged] murderous actions and understand the difference between sports and real life.

Hernandez and his arrest, however, were an integral part of the Patriots' storyline all season and he was sitting in jail and out of the spotlight.

Jerry Remy will be there for every pitch, every run, every win and every loss. The murder of Jennifer Martel and Jared Remy's role in it will be there, too. Again, we are speaking of two different planets, the real world and the world of the Red Sox broadcasts.

In the real world, Jerry Remy stands accused of no crimes. We are not criminally accountable for the actions of our adult children. But as parents, we constantly second-guess ourselves, no matter how successful or nefarious our children become. As the father of a great 20-year-old son, there are countless do-overs I'd happily apply if I had the chance. Those without children can probably sit this one out.

Remy's family intervened on their son's behalf after his arrest on the assault charges. They implored Martel not to file for a restraining order. They were successful. Somehow, that fact is being used as a smoking gun against Jerry Remy and his family. Remy spoke plainly Monday about his regrets over his son's actions.

Remy's son stands accused of killing the mother of his grand-daughter.

How does anyone wrap their head around that?

The actions of Jared Remy are the fault and responsibility of Jared Remy. And restraining orders are of little use against determined or enraged killers. Wifey's 23 years in the Florida Bar have taught me that.

You can bet your last dollar that, however, that there will be at least one civil lawsuit filed in the death Jennifer Martel. Jared Remy worked for the Red Sox as a security guard before he was fired in 2008 following an investigation into steroid use. Those are deep enough pockets for any headline-hungry plaintiff's attorney.

There was one line of Remy's statement and press conference that struck to the core of his decision: "I hope in no way that my decision to come back to do games has a negative impact on the Martel family. I'm quite certain they'll understand that we have to make a living." He later added: "I've got to be busy. I've got to do something to preoccupy myself. I need to do something I enjoy."

There you have it. Jerry Remy, restaurateur, retired Red Sox legend , the Rem Dawg and long-time broadcaster, will be working in the NESN booth this season because he needs the work and the Red Sox/NESN are willing to pay him to do it. That pretty much covers most any job out there. You're willing to do it and someone is willing to pay you to do it.

No one should ever be denied the right and opportunity to work because of a crime their adult son [allegedly] committed. That simple issue is beyond question.

But here's where it gets complicated. Jerry Remy isn't a plumber. His job is "in the public eye," on TV, three to four hours a night, for six months.

And this where the part about baseball comes in.

WARNING: Dear Internet and Twitter: We are now talking about baseball games on television and not real life. Thank you.

The question becomes: Will Red Sox fans understand and accept Remy's presence back in the NESN booth in light of all that has happened? If they don't, Remy will be off the air soon enough. Life isn't fair. The business of television carries all the compassion and justice of Pol Pot. Is it a moral shortcoming for Red Sox fans to want to simply want to watch a baseball game without having to be constantly reminded that a wonderful young woman was [allegedly] killed by the son of the guy speaking? The answer to that question is "no."

Jerry Remy is in a horrible spot here. [Again, as he said, it pales in comparison to the situation facing the Martel family.] Even if you want to wrongly call him the "Worst Father of All Time," that does not preclude him from being able to offer commentary on Red Sox games. But anything he does will be framed by the actions of his son in the minds of much of the public. And the perception of the public does matter in this case because Remy works in the wonderful world of television.

Remy's best asset as a broadcaster, according to his biggest fans, is his ability to inject humor and entertaining stories during the down time that punctuates so many broadcasts. Otherwise, he doesn't offer much in the way of insight or analysis that most fans can't already see for themselves.

He said Monday he won't change his style and people need to move on. After 26 seasons in the broadcast booth, one would not expect anything less. But who's going to be chuckling next season at those tales about steak dinners in Seattle? Especially if they were never really that funny in the first place.

Even more difficult to acknowledge, especially under these circumstances, is the fact that Remy is no longer the best baseball color man in the NESN stable. Dennis Eckersley was the lead fill-in for Remy last season and excelled in the analyst's role. Even with all his talk about "cheese" and "cabbage," Eck brought a perspective with nearly every pitch that brought a refreshing baseball intimacy. My guess is that Eck have that full-time analyst role, if he wants it, by Opening Day 2015.

Now, for better or worse, Jerry Remy is back in the NESN booth.

Along with Jared.

Until Red Sox fans say otherwise.

Got a news tip, want to let me know directly what you think, or have a complaint or compliment about my "aggressively relevant" content, hit me up on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. Thanks always for reading and pass the clicker.

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