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Boston? I Hear It's Not Much of a Baseball Town
2006-09-02 07:23
by Philip Michaels

"The Boston gig has been cancelled..."


"Yeah. I wouldn't worry about it though. It's not a big college town. --This Is Spinal Tap

My never-ending East Coast road trip took me to Boston last week, for the duration of the A's series against the Red Sox. This was a new experience for me, as, most of the time when I'm on the eastern seaboard and the A's are back at home, Oakland games are but a rumor to me. (The scourge of East Coast Media Bias becomes a lot easier to figure out when you realize that the clock has struck midnight and the A's are still in the sixth.) I figured this would be a neat opportunity -- watching a telecast from an A's game while embedded behind enemy lines, as it were.

Special double bonus: Unlike the A's TV package -- "We'd love to cover your game, Mr. Wolff, but that Cops/Real Stories of the Highway Patrol contract we have is unbreakable!" -- every single Red Sox game is on TV. (This is the advantage of co-owning your own cable outlet.) And, as I know from my two years of living in the wilderness of Southern California when I subscribed to the MLB Extra Innings package to keep up on the A's, NESN's Sox telecasts are actually quite enjoyable. The games are slickly produced. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy comprise perhaps my favorite broadcast tandem -- they are engaging without stooping to rampant homerism, they are knowledgeable without being overbearing, and they can switch easily between light-hearted banter and paying attention to the action on the field. Even if you don't happen to share my appreciation of their work, you have to admit that the Remy-and-Orsillo pairing is a sight lot better than three days of "He gone!" and "Put it on the board... yes!".

So my plan was this: Attend hour after hour of work-related meetings by day, have a pleasant dinner afterwards with colleagues, and then retire to my room to watch the A's-Red Sox tilt while enjoying a nice adult beverage before I drifted off to sleep.

The only problem with my plan: I was apparently booked to stay at one of the few hotels in the greater Boston area that does not include NESN among its TV channel offerings.

So, given that I was in the Boston area for the entirety of the A's-Red Sox series and that every pitch of every game was available on a local cable channel, would you care to guess what amount of those three games that I was able to watch? Go on -- guess. There are no prizes, except for the satisfaction of being right.

The answer, friends, is the last four innings of Tuesday's 2-1 win. And the only reason I saw that was because a co-worker, taking pity on me after hearing the above rant, used Slingbox and a MacBook running virtualization software to pick up the A's telecast on Channel 36 from back in the Bay Area. (According to Major League Baseball, that makes me and my pal dirty, stinking thieves. According to me, Major League Baseball can cram it sideways.)

Sure, I could have left my nice hotel room and found a local tavern equipped with NESN. But keep in mind that we're talking about a game being contested around the witching hour and that I was ostensibly in Boston for a business trip -- hanging out at bars until 1 just so you can see the A's put the wood to the Sox is not a recipe for feeling at your freshest the next morn. In theory, I could have also paid to get the game on MLB.TV, though I suspect I would have been subject to blackout restrictions. Plus, there's something having to pay for something that would otherwise be free if I were staying at a hotel a quarter-mild down the road that kind of sticks in my craw. And we all know how uncomfortable craw-related injuries can be.

2006-09-02 09:15:06
1.   Greg Brock
Don't worry about the gig. I know an Air Force base that would love to have you chaps entertain.

Remy and Orsillo are a very comfortable listen. Their commentary is exactly what broadcasting is supposed to be, background music for the movie.

I much prefer Fabricated Stories of the Local Mall Security. Compelling, and rich.

2006-09-02 09:40:33
2.   DXMachina
Remy is a hoot to listen to. The problem with Orsillo is that he sounds a lot like Sean McDonough, who used to have the job, and was better at it.

The thing that's strange about not getting NESN in your hotel was that NESN flexed its muscles a few years back and forced the cable companies into making it part of the standard package. It had been a premium channel before that. That must've been one cheap hotel.

2006-09-02 10:20:18
3.   Bob Timmermann
So is it Sean McDonough doing play by play of the college football game on ESPN right now or is it Don Orsillo?
2006-09-02 11:30:44
4.   DXMachina
I was gonna say only his hairdresser knows for sure, but that ship has sailed for Sean.
2006-09-02 13:24:50
5.   Bluebleeder87
nice read Philip Michaels, i can go on & on about the east coast biased thing, but i don't wanna be mad the rest of the day. :o)
2006-09-02 19:15:42
6.   Displaced Trojan
I'm an A's fan who grew up in the East Bay but now living in Connecticut, so I can totally relate to watching A's games past midnight.

I'm also a USC alum, so I've been observing the east coast bias on several fronts, which explains my screen name:

Glad I found the Baseball Toaster!

2006-09-03 17:04:26
7.   Vishal
i think we can declare the swisher fast over! it took over a month but he finally doubled and walked in a game.

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