Red Sox sacking of Orsillo lacking

Boston Red Sox fans can now add insult to the injury visited upon them by the team in this season of discontent.

New England Sports Network, the cable network owned by the team that broadcasts their games, announced on Tuesday that affable play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo would not be returning after this year.

"Don is an outstanding broadcaster, and we are grateful for all of his contributions to NESN’s telecast over the years," Sean McGrail, NESN’s President and CEO, said in a statement posted on the channel’s website. "On behalf of everyone at NESN and the Boston Red Sox organization, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Don."

They were so grateful that they couldn’t even let Orsillo finish out the season before making the announcement that he would be replaced after 15 years by Dave O’Brien.

The timing of the move was strictly bush-league. It’s the kind of thing, frankly, we would have expected from the late Buddy LeRoux, the former ownership partner who called a press conference in 1983 to announce that he was pushing out the other general partners and appointing himself managing general partner. Problem was, that announcement came the same night that the team was holding a special benefit for Tony Conigliaro, the star-crossed former outfielder who was disabled from a heart attack at age of 38 and later died at the age of 45. It was widely seen as a classless insult to the memory of Conigliaro, a beloved but tragic figure whose promising career was curtailed by the effects of a 1967 beaning he could never overcome.

We never thought we’d mention current owner John Henry in the same breath as Buddy LeRoux, but the firing of Orsillo is an equally classless, poorly timed insult to Red Sox fans and provides yet another reason not to watch the team.

Orsillo’s transgression? The Boston Globe reported that NESN vice president of programming Joseph Maar didn’t much care for him. After word leaked out about Maar’s role in Orsillo’s ouster, Maar made his Twitter account private. Nothing like a side of cowardice to augment a main dish of classlessness.

Reaction to Orsillo’s sacking was swift, widespread and vociferous in defense of the announcer.

The best take came from WEEI’s DJ Bean. "The idea of blaming a team’s ratings on its broadcasters is baffling," Bean tweeted, "especially when Orsillo is a better left fielder than Hanley."

That would be Hanley Ramirez, the outfielder who has elevated defensive indifference to an art form this season and is the poster child for a team that is so terrible it had last place locked up within a week of the all-star break.

Orsillo is a good announcer – undoubtedly better than this current team deserves – and for 15 years he and Jerry Remy have served as the primary connection between the team and its fans. He nurtured that connection through sound baseball knowledge, humor and – regardless of the caliber of the team on the field – class.

That’s more than you can say about that sorry lot on Yawkey Way right now.