Jerry Remy is coming back. This is a good thing.
It's easy to cherry-pick the strange responses to this positive development, the most visible of which was Steve Buckley's Boston Herald column suggesting that Remy's presence on the airways could be discomfiting to not only the family of his son’s late girlfriend, Jennifer Martel (allegedly killed at the hands of Jared Remy himself), but also NESN viewers at large.
"Watching a baseball game on television is supposed to be entertainment and escapism," writes Buckley. "How will it be possible to watch and listen to Remy this season without being constantly reminded of the nightmare that he, his wife Phoebe, their two other children and, yes, the Martel family are living?"
Here’s how: We’ll watch the Red Sox and trust in Remy’s judgment, our system of law, and our sense of decency.
Remy, who has publicly battled physical and mental health issues and who disappeared for weeks at a time last season, has accepted that there are people that will tie him to the event. His only request is that people accept that his wife was a good parent, whatever his potential failings.
This is a reasonable request. It is more reasonable than suggesting Remy should step down because of a crime allegedly committed by his son.
First off, Remy said, in announcing his decision to return, that baseball keeps him going. He knows better than we do if and how doing his job affects his health, and how it affects his mental and physical vigor. It is easy for a writer to suggest that someone step away from their job and into an uncertain retirement without considering how violently they would likely defend their own turf, the professional space they have carved out for themselves... and that's before you consider that the Remy family will likely be facing large legal bills, and need the income. It’s easy to say Remy should walk away. Where would he go?
Second, Jerry Remy did not kill anyone, and he should not feel the need to punish himself beyond the absolute devastation he has no doubt endured to this point, knowing that of which his son is likely to have been capable. If we’re going to start punishing the family members of alleged criminals before they have gone to trial, we’re playing with fire, and we’re doing it like assholes.
Third, Jerry Remy is good. The fact that the Sox would have him back is proof enough. It’s not an accident that Dennis Eckersley hasn’t managed to close him out.
The first thing they tell you in an emergency is to stay calm, and the lesson applies long after the emergency is over. If we are going to convict our peers by association, and demand they remove themselves from society on account of the actions of their family, we're going to run out of peers sooner than later and, eventually, ourselves. The network of this stuff is a lot smaller than you think. The entire point of a public forum is to remind people of this, and not stoke hysteria. Jerry Remy has earned the right to go out on his terms far more than Buckley has earned the right to punt him out, and if baseball is about escapism, Remy has earned the right to escape back into it in his time of trouble.