So, Sean Grande, about this pending transition from being the radio voice of the Celtics to calling occasional Red Sox games on WEEI.
It seems here that the bigger adjustment won’t be the change in sport, but the change in sidekicks.
Unless Red Sox voice Joe Castiglione was once a relentless offensive rebounder and savvy scorer in the low post, we’re not immediately recognizing much he shares in common with Cedric Maxwell, the former Celtics forward and current astute, charmingly goofy color analyst.
Castiglione, in his 31st season calling Red Sox games, features an affable, mostly straightforward style that is as comfortable as a faded ball cap. Max . . . well, sometimes he quacks.
Might there be an adjustment, Sean?
“I completely disagree,’’ Grande deadpanned. “I can’t even tell them apart.”
WEEI got it right this week when it announced a series of moves that stemmed from Red Sox pre- and postgame host and occasional play-by-play fill-in Jon Rish’s decision to quit rather than accept a pay cut on April 8.
John Ryder, a regular and welcome contributor to the “Planet Mikey Show,’’ was named host of the pre- and postgame coverage, a role he has filled from time to time more than capably. A WEEI employee since 1998 in various on-air capacities, he’s long been deserving of more prominence.
But the decision to turn to Grande and former Red Sox infielder and current midday cohost Lou Merloni as occasional fill-ins for Dave O’Brien were logical and inspired choices. O’Brien is absent from most Monday broadcasts because of his duties as the play-by-play voice of ESPN’s “Monday Night Baseball’’ telecasts.
Merloni has filled in on a couple of broadcasts already and acquitted himself well. He can be talkative (hey, he is a talk-show host) but his status as someone who was an active player not so long ago has proven beneficial. For instance, during a recent series with the Royals, he shared an insightful anecdote about the unimpressive big league beginnings of Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie, who was a teammate for a brief time in Cleveland and arrived in the majors, Merloni recalled, with a repertoire that curiously didn’t match his pedigree as a high draft pick.
Grande, who has called NBA games for 15 years, the last 12 with the Celtics, is a stellar basketball broadcaster. But unless you happened to hear his tape-delayed broadcasts of Boston University baseball games in the early 1990s — which consisted of lines such as “Light snow is falling here at the top of the sixth,’’ he jokes — he’s probably an unfamiliar voice on the sport. But he says it was a passion long before basketball.
“[Baseball] is what I always wanted to do,’’ he said. “Life takes you in funny directions. People ask you what’s your favorite or best sport, and there comes a point when you’ve done 1,200 NBA games that basketball is probably no longer your No. 4 sport. But basketball was a distant No. 4 for me, probably until I actually got into the league.
“As a kid, going up into college, I couldn’t choose between baseball, hockey, and football. I couldn’t choose between the three. It’s so funny to me that I’ve grown into this guy that’s seen as a basketball guy. But that’s the way it goes.”
Early in his career, Grande nearly took the baseball path, but turned down the steppingstone Pawtucket Red Sox play-by-play job in the late ’90s because it paid half of what he was making at WEEI at the time. (Grande, among other roles, contributed as the update anchor on “The Big Show.’’)
“Some other guy ended up getting that job. Let’s see, his name was Rorsillo, Orsillo, something like that. That’s it, right, Don Orsillo. Whatever became of him?” Grande kidded, referring to NESN’s respected Red Sox play-by-play announcer.
Grande isn’t sure how many Red Sox games he will call this season — “it could be six, it could be 12,’’ he said — and he isn’t even sure when he will make his debut since there’s still the matter of the Celtics’ postseason.
But even if the Celtics beat the Knicks in the first round — Game 6 is Friday with the Knicks holding a 3-2 lead — he said he’ll be taking opportunities to prepare for the Red Sox gig.
“I’m going to be in the Red Sox radio booth a lot over the next few weeks, just being around it, seeing how they go about their work,’’ he said. “Being around both Joe and Dave, immersing myself in the broadcast. It’s going to be a great learning situation. It’s also a way to get better at things. It’s an honor to be the voice of the Celtics. It’s something I treasure.
“But baseball is a lifelong thing, and the magnitude of the honor is not lost on me. If you’re a play-by-play announcer, baseball on the radio is your Shakespeare. If you can do it and do it well, then you can do anything. It’s with humility and reverence that I tackle this.”Chad Finn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globechadfinn.