Boston Red Sox NESN play by play announcer Don Orsillo could be on the move for the 2012 season. Like the players they cover, television and radio announcers have contracts as well and when they expire, they become free agents and are free to seek employment elsewhere.
According to Nick Cafardo, the national baseball writer for the Boston Globe, “industry sources indicate that TBS is making a strong run at tying up NESN’s Don Orsillo to a long-term deal.” Cafardo added in a tweet, “the TBS deal would be fulltime and not just playoffs. Would think NESN tries hard to re-sign him.”
So where is this going? Is Announcer Boy really on the way out of Boston? According to Ken Fang, of Fang's Bites, Orsillo may have said something in a conversation with Cafardo and with TBS in Detroit this weekend Cafardo may have had a conversation with someone at the network.
This still doesn’t mean Orsillo is going.
I’ve been able to find that Orsillo signed a three-year extension with NESN in September of 2008 for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 baseball seasons. That deal as we now know is about to expire. And as Fang added “which is why TBS is making a run (at Orsillo).”
Fang, who writes about the sports media on a regular basis, says that “NESN is known for nickel and diming. Sean McDonough, Tina Cervasio, Hazel Mae are some examples. It has stepped up for Jerry Remy and Kathryn Tappen.”
With the offer being full-time at TBS one would think that this would be for the number one baseball play by play slot on their weekly Sunday afternoon game plus the prime match up in the Division Series round of playoffs and the League Championship Series as well.
Orsillo also has play by play experience in basketball which would come in handy for Turner Broadcasting as they have early rounds of the NCAA Men’s March Madness as well as regular NBA games. This would keep him fairly busy on a year round basis calling more than one baseball game a week. It would also most likely put Ernie Johnson back in the studio fulltime where I really feel Johnson is strongest.
Taking this deal at TBS would lead to Orsillo leaving the regional sports network because as Fang points out on his twitter account, “NESN wants someone to work all the games. It would not allow Don to leave on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Apparently NESN would be against a similar working agreement with Orsillo to what Red Sox radio play by play announcer Dave O’Brien has with his employer, WEEI. The Entercom outlet allows O’Brien to leave to do the Wednesday Night Baseball games for ESPN. When O’Brien is gone for that day or two, WEEI uses Dale Arnold and Jon Rish as his fill-ins.
We surely don’t know where this will go as it’s still fairly early in the process. But if we get into mid to late September and we have no announcement from NESN regarding an extension for Orsillo, I would fully expect that at that point the possibility of him leaving for TBS or another outlet would be more likely.