My experience is not that of a typical Red Sox fan. For three of the last four years, the Sox have been miserable, leading to plenty of games where the difference between a win and a loss was nothing more than draft positioning. Where most fans can just turn off the TV and walk away, or simply not turn it on at all for those last couple months, I've been providing nightly recaps for this site for years now. From the fairly interesting games we have these days with the likes of Bradley, Castillo, and Shaw going on their crazy runs, to the truly awful days in 2012 where Mauro Gomez was batting cleanup, if the Red Sox are playing, I'm watching.
That is to say that I have not had many opportunities to willingly watch a bad Red Sox team. I cannot claim that I tune in to their worst games just for the chance to hear Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy. I don't honestly know if I would or not.
But you don't have to talk to many Red Sox fans to find some who will say exactly that. And you don't have to watch many games to understand exactly why. We certainly have our all-time great moments in Remy and Orsillo history, from "Here comes the Pizza!" to Don's emergency dentistry, they've produced some truly golden moments. It's those moments that would make the Red Sox worthwhile to have on in the background just waiting for one of them to start cracking up, letting everyone know that, yes, it's time to pay attention again.
I say "Remy and Orsillo" like they're an inseparable pair, which clearly they're not. Don Orsillo has worked with plenty of other partners when Jerry Remy's health kept him out of action. But let's be honest, one without the other is just not the same. Orsillo could be a capable play-by-play guy just about anywhere. He's good at setting the tone, doesn't make mistakes, and doesn't play homer any more than the situation calls for. Without Remy, though, he's just another good announcer. He won't offend anyone, but his excellence comes from his rapport with Remy. In a way, unless Orsillo really find that perfect partner elsewhere, he should be worth more to NESN than to any other station.
But, if the reports are true, NESN clearly doesn't think so. Whether because Don Orsillo was offered more elsewhere and they didn't match, or because they for some insane reason actually thought they'd be better off without him, it sounds like Don Orsillo's time with the Red Sox is coming to an end.
Obviously in the end ratings are largely determined by the team on the field. If the Red Sox are good, as they're supposed to be more often than not (these last four years being the exception rather than the rule), then fans will watch even if it's Hawk Harrellson in the booth. It's when they're bad, though, that a team like Remy and Orsillo shows its true value. Perhaps it's a vocal minority, or perhaps it really is a significant portion of the fanbase, but NESN should know that if Don Orsillo is not in the booth the next time the Red Sox suffer a disappointing season, there will be fans who would have tuned in who now will not.
Without Don Orsillo, there's one less reason to watch the Red Sox.