We learned yesterday that Jerry Remy will return to the Red Sox booth for the first time since his son’s arrest in the murder of his girlfriend and the mother of his child, Jennifer Martel. Most sentiment I’ve seen since the announcement has been positive. Remy is an institution in New England and his absences from Sox broadcasts for health reasons and then last year’s tragedy were felt by a lot of people.
But not everyone thinks Remy coming back is a good thing. Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald has a column today in which he argues that Remy shouldn’t come back. Why? Because it may make some NESN viewers uncomfortable:
To watch a Red Sox game on NESN this season, and to see and hear Remy engage in his famously upbeat and entertaining banter with play-by-play man Don Orsillo, it will be difficult not to think of that brutal murder, difficult not to speculate about the trial, difficult not to think about that little girl . . . this is the sobering question that must be asked: What about the comfort zone of NESN viewers? If it’s true that watching a baseball game on television is supposed to be entertainment and escapism, how will it be possible to watch and listen to Remy this season without being constantly reminded of the nightmare that he, his wife Phoebe, their two other children, and, yes, the Martel family, are living?
I will note that Buckley quite obviously cares about Remy and the victims, living and dead, of last year’s tragedy. His column is not insensitive at all and, yes, there is likely truth to the idea that some people will be reminded of the murder when they hear Remy’s voice this spring. But it is simply incomprehensible to me that any such discomfort means that Remy shouldn’t be back in the both if he wants to be.
Is Remy supposed to give up his life’s work and the thing he specifically identifies as something which will bring happiness and normalcy back to his life because someone may, briefly, be reminded of the murder? Is he supposed to go lock himself up in his house and quietly, out of the view of others, await his death? To the contrary of Buckley’s premise, I think a lot of people in New England care about Jerry Remy and, given that they “know” him in that way we know people we watch on TV a lot, care about how he’s doing in the wake of the murder. They probably want what’s best for him and his return to the booth will probably bring people a lot of joy.
But whichever way that all cuts, who are we to criticize how a person moves on from such tragedy? That goes doubly for Steve Buckley given that, in the past, he has felt quite differently about such things. Here he is writing in 2012 after Johnny Pesky’s funeral. You may recall some in the media griped that not many current Boston Red Sox players showed up at the funeral. Buckley correctly thought those folks were out of line, saying “I don’t think it’s part of my job to legislate other people’s mourning rituals . . .”
Would that he felt the same way now about Jerry Remy.