Last week, WEEI announced some pretty big changes to the radio broadcast for the coming Red Sox season. They’ll be keeping the legendary Joe Castiglione as the main cog on the airwaves, but they’ll have a large, rotating group of guys who will call games aside him. It’s pretty big news, but today more people obviously watch the game on the ol’ tee vee than those who listen to the radio broadcast. Well, if you fit into that category, we got some news on the NESN broadcast on Wednesday.
Dennis Eckersley broke some of his own news, announcing on Twitter that he had signed on for a bigger role over the next five years and committing to 85 games.
Eckersley isn’t for everybody, but I think it’s fair to say the majority of Red Sox fans enjoy his broadcasts. I’m among that group for sure. I think he brings a refreshing energy to the game, an obvious knowledge particularly on the pitching side, and most refreshing is that he largely does this without disparaging today’s version of the sport. It doesn’t seem like it should be too much to ask for a broadcaster to actually express some enjoyment for what he’s watching, but if you watch a lot of the national broadcasts you’ll understand it’s not exactly commonplace in the game. I’d love for Eckersley to do even more than 85 games, but I’ll take what I can get.
Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald has even more news on the NESN booth, including the big news that Eckersley will join Jerry Remy in the booth for a three-man crew up to 30 times in 2018. Three-man booths are usually a too many cooks situation, but the chemistry between Eckersley and Remy works out fantastically. They have a natural rapport, differing perspectives on the game since one pitched and one was a position player, and personalities that differ but in a way that complements the other perfectly. At least based on reactions on social media, the Remy/Eckersley broadcasts were some of the most-enjoyed last year. Mastrodonato notes that NESN will skew these broadcasts towards more important series with 11 of the 30 games scheduled for September.
The good news keeps coming, too, as it appears Steve Lyons is officially out of the rotation. With Lyons out, and Jonny Gomes now coaching full-time in the Diamondbacks organization, a couple of former Red Sox players from recent history join the booth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who called a handful of games over the last couple years for NESN, will fill in for some games as will Carlos Peña. Peña, who shares a high school alma mater with yours truly, has worked in the past on MLB Network. He’ll be calling the first few spring training games on NESN coming up this weekend.
Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with what WEEI did with their broadcast, but the NESN plans sound very intriguing.