Baseball is back. It was not the typical late March opening day (for obvious reasons), but last night the Boston Red Sox played their first game of the season.
While watching Boston beat down the Orioles 13-2, one thing I noticed was how well the broadcast team seemed to be working during the game. I then immediately was worried about how they are handling Jerry Remy’s previous lung cancer issues when we are fighting a disease that wreaks havoc on people’s lungs. Thankfully, Steve Buckley from The Athletic gave addressed all of these questions:
[I]t is a NESN room with a NASA feel to it. It’s a secure location with all kinds of bells and whistles to assure it remains off-limits to anyone other than O’Brien, the Red Sox play-by-play voice, and color analysts Jerry Remy and Dennis Eckersley. If Tuesday is any indication, senior producer Dan Aspan will be popping in now and then, but only to deliver a live read or relay some other piece of information.
That’s it. As O’Brien, Remy and Eckersley do their pregame work in the conference room before going upstairs to the studio, no well-wishers, no sponsors, no assistants to the assistant in charge of this or that are allowed in the room. Once the game begins, there will be no Ben Affleck-, Lenny Clarke-type celebrities who just happen to be in the neighborhood. It’s O’Brien, Eckersley and Remy plus the occasional handoff from Aspan.
Despite how sterile this setup sounds, the actual coverage during the game was great. The interactions between Eck, Remy, and O’Brien were sharp and they (mostly) stayed focus on what was happening in the game and with the Red Sox. NESN also added a little din of crowd noise to the audio track to keep from having gaps of complete silence when the announcers were not speaking. It was just the right mix of “normal” in the current, strange times.
Even though the game sounded like a real game, the empty ballpark was jarring to look at. I do not think I want virtual fans added in like FOX is planning to do, but seeing any seats empty at Fenway always looks out of place, let alone all the seats.
With the continuing uncertainty around COVID-19, the protocols in place regarding quarantines, etc… who knows if this whole “season” (of 60 games) will play out. For one night, though, I was happy to listen to Remy, Eck, and Dave call a baseball game.