Image courtesy @DonOrsillo
In the minds of fans, there are some sports personnel who stay connected to teams long after trades, retirement, or other forms of departure. Boston Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo will most likely become one of those figures.
New England Sports Network (NESN) announced this week that Orsillo will be replaced on the microphone after the conclusion of this season. Without his commentary, Boston will miss what served as a consistently enjoyable piece of the city’s summer soundtrack. As a result of NESN’s decision, Orsillo became the most recent sports figure to inadvertently remind fans about the harsh business side of sports.
Orsillo and color commentator Jerry Remy, who have been working together since 2001, have brought their dry wittiness and evident passion for America’s pastime into New England-area homes for a seemingly countless number of seasons. With the pair on headsets, fresh faces were welcomed into the organization, the franchise won three World Series titles and a slice of pizza made an aerial voyage like no other.
Through the ups-and-downs that were the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons, Orsillo and Remy kept fans tuning in and kept each other entertained. Occasionally, they would find something so funny that their wheezing laughter would ring out over the airways for a few solid minutes. But, being professionals, they always turned their attention back to the game at just the right time.
These kinds of idiosyncrasies, found in athletes, coaches and personalities across the sports world, are what fans become attached to. Despite communication being almost entirely one-way, a bond is formed between a figure and a fan base over time. Often, it is only after the money aspect of sports breaks that bond that both parties realize how special it was.
When LeBron James left Cleveland, it was not to break the hearts of the people in his hometown; it was to take his talents to South Beach. With his capital-D decision, James rudely reawakened fans to the reality that sometimes emotional ties are cut by the the scissors of business. When he returned, Miami Heat fans felt the effects of his strictly business decisions, too.
Orsillo may not be as well know as James, but like James, he engrained himself into the local sports scene so deeply that it was hard to imagine watching a game without him. Sports trick us: first they allow us to think our favorites will stick around for as long we want them to, then they snatch them up and drop them somewhere else, as heartlessly as a bulldozer.
Some fans have an easier time than others accepting and moving on from a sports breakup. Just as consistently as players leave, new players arrive – why become attached to anyone in such an ephemeral industry?
Even under the game-day face paint, fans are still people – people who value strong relationships. It is easy to form these relationships with our sports-related heroes, but significantly harder to watch them end. Thankfully, the same evils that tear apart our dream teams also act as blessings to create even better teams.