Is a Boston-Baltimore Rivalry Legit?

This week could bring plenty of fireworks to Fenway Park when the Baltimore Orioles strut into town. With all the drama caused by Manny Machado and Matt Barnes last series, suddenly this matchup is a heated one. Is it fair to say there is now a Boston-Baltimore rivalry, though?

Never in my life have I thought of the Baltimore Orioles as a rival. This reminds me a lot of Boston-Baltimore RivalryDuke vs. Maryland in basketball. Trust me, it’ll make sense. Duke’s major rival is North Carolina but they were always the biggest game on Maryland’s schedule, so they were treated as a rival. Orioles fans definitely get up for Red Sox series, but it isn’t Red Sox-Yankees.

When I heard Jerry Remy talk about how these teams had a mutual distaste, I was shocked. I mean, Manny Machado has had his disputes, but the Orioles don’t exactly have the villains. There’s no A-Rod or Johnny Damon or even someone like a Jorge Posada. But, apparently, there is hatred between the players.

Even though these two clubs have been in the same division for years, the lack of animosity is simple. First off, these teams have seldom been competitive at the same time. When one team is up, the other is usually down. Without high leverage games, it’s tough to keep an entertaining rivalry in baseball.

Why Isn’t There a Boston-Baltimore Rivalry?

Also, Baltimore is just a blip on the baseball map. We are used to Boston and New York as the epicenters of the game. That is not the case in Baltimore. They have a respectable fan base, a nice team and a nice ballpark. There’s nothing special about Baltimore in the world of baseball. Even with the run of success they had for nearly two decades between the 1960s and 1980s where they won five World Series titles, Baltimore doesn’t scream baseball history.

At the end of the day, Baltimore is a football town and the unequivocal hotbed of lacrosse. When you think of Baltimore, you don’t think baseball. Putting that against a titan of the sport like Boston and the Red Sox organization, it’s not a fair fight. Red Sox fans who remember a time before 2013 know it wasn’t long ago when Sox fans outnumbered Orioles supporters tenfold at Camden Yards.

A supposed AL East rivalry between the Orioles and the Red Sox leaves me with more questions than answers. Where’s the history? Who are the villains? Why isn’t Boston-Toronto a rivalry? Ok, that last one is a blog for another time. This series could certainly get the blood boiling again and could start a rivalry. For now, Red Sox fans can label the Orioles with the same moniker Duke has put on Maryland for years, the most disrespectful insult in sports: “not our rivals.”

The Red Sox Announcer Dilemma

The only thing about as inconsistent as the bullpen this summer is who we hear in Red Sox announcer booth. There are a multitude of former Red Sox alongside Dave O’Brien in the NESN booth this season. Most fans are annoyed with the constant changing in commentators. They need to keep just one other signature guy in the booth already. Who should NESN stick with and why?

During home games this season, Jerry Remy is still the Red Sox Red Sox Announcerannouncer voice fans commonly hear. Since 1988, Remy has been a part of Red Sox broadcasts. In my experience, there is one major skill he lacks: the ability to analyze baseball well. To me, that is a key skill to have in the baseball analyzing business but hey, he’s still there.

Nary has he enriched the broadcasts since I’ve been watching this team. Still, the Red Sox and NESN have had plenty of opportunities to part ways with him and haven’t. I don’t want to bring his personal life into a discussion about his broadcasting, but the legal problems with his son as well as legitimate health concerns could be reason enough for Remy to leave on his own.

The ‘Other’ Red Sox Announcer Stand-Ins

Next in the Red Sox announcer pecking order is Steve “Psycho” Lyons. Lyons had three stints as a player in Boston between 1985 and 1993, his first and last Major League stops. He is most known for being traded for the great Tom Seaver as well as dropping his pants while on first base during a game. After a completely bogus firing from Fox nearly a decade ago, Lyons eventually brought his talents to the NESN booth. Originally, he was on the pre and post game shows, which he still is when not color commentating. Psycho brings a great analysis of players on and off the field for fans to better understand the game.

Finally, Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley emerges as the best Red Sox announcer NESN has. “Eck” is by far the best man in the booth. While I think Lyons is good, it’s really not a close race as far as I’m concerned. Even in a “contract year” for all intents and purposes, Remy doesn’t compare. I’m not one for commentators with a stupid schtick, but Eck can back it up. His constant muttering of “cheese” and “hair” to describe the game actually makes him enjoyable. In fact, in the past week I’ve heard Eck refer to both a home run and a contract as a “Johnson”.

Eckersley seems to know exactly what the pitcher is doing, what the manager’s thoughts probably are and the hitter’s expectations. His extensive knowledge of baseball makes for an incredible broadcast. Even with a hairstyle grossly out of fashion, Dennis Eckersley should absolutely be in NESN Red Sox announcer permanently.

Jerry Remy is Back in the Booth

jerry remy

You don’t realize you miss something until it’ss gone. In this case it was Jerry Remy, who works alongside Don Orsillo calling games for the Boston Red Sox on NESN. Remy was out sick during most of the month of June. During the games he missed, a few radio and other NESN personalities sat in his place. Some of those that took the Remdawg’s seat talked too little, others talked far too much. Still others had voices like nails on chalkboard. It just wasn’t the same.

Don and Jerry get it just right.

Don and Jerry know when to allow silence. Many broadcasters fear this “dead air.” Viewers most definitely saw this with some of the personalities that sat in for Jerry during his bout of pneumonia. Don and Jerry know it is okay to shut up, once in a while, throughout the broadcast. They are both very funny at times and talk about silly topics, but are also very attentive to the game. Don and Jerry have just the right timbre of voices for calling games. This is very important to me. I like a deeper voice and they both have it. Other teams, like the Yankees, are not so blessed (so I hear from the New York radio personalities that I listen to). These guys know the game and make it an experience for the viewers, and the fans at the game, too. Jerry likes to buy hot dogs for fans that hold up signs asking for them.

When I’ve had a tough day and just want to relax, not be overwhelmed by too much noise from the tube, I know where to turn. Don and Jerry have lulled me to sleep some nights, calmed my nerves, and made me laugh on days I have been down.

Welcome back to the booth, Jerry. Please take care of yourself. New Englanders want to hear more of you and Don each night when we tune in to NESN. You are both a big part of Red Sox nation.