The Red Sox are down to the final 10 games of their season, which means Don Orsillo is down to the final 10 games of his 15-season run as the play-by-play voice of the team on NESN.
The network’s decision to replace the popular Orsillo with Dave O’Brien next season generated extraordinary local backlash when the story broke Aug. 25. Fans are certain to give Orsillo a warm sendoff at Fenway during the disappointing season’s waning days.
But those who aren’t satisfied with the explanation for the decision — team chairman Tom Werner has told other media outlets that the Orsillo-for-O’Brien swap was made to “reenergize” the broadcast — can take solace in an emerging truth.
Career-wise, Orsillo may end up in a sunnier place.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the San Diego Padres are aggressively pursuing Orsillo for a significant role with their television broadcast team on Fox Sports San Diego.
Orsillo has spoken with the Padres about a long-term contract that includes an opportunity to broadcast some national games for parent company Fox Sports.
The Padres possibility makes sense. Dick Enberg, a broadcasting legend who currently calls Padres games, is 80 years old and announced Wednesday night that 2016 would be his final season. It’s uncertain how Orsillo would fit in next year if he lands in San Diego, but Enberg already works a reduced schedule — he’ll call in the vicinity of 140 games this year.
Former Red Sox executive Mike Dee is the Padres’ president and CEO. Orsillo has long had Dee’s respect, and Padres owner Ron Fowler is also said to be a fan. The downside to a move to the West Coast is a personal one. Orsillo has two daughters from a previous marriage, and he lives in Smithfield, R.I., now to be close to them.
According to Orsillo’s agent, Brad Blank, other franchises (one is believed to be the Dodgers) have shown interest in hiring the broadcaster. ESPN also has reached out. But the Padres possibility is the clear front-runner. A deal is unlikely to be official until around Oct. 4, when the Red Sox season ends and Orsillo can turn his attention toward considering the possibilities.
“Don has drawn a lot of interest, and San Diego has been incredibly gracious, but there are elements to any deal that still need to be sorted out,” said Blank. “We’re not popping the champagne bottles just yet.”
Bill Simmons, longtime ESPN multimedia impresario and accomplished Roger Goodell antagonist, announced July 22 that he is joining HBO on a multiyear deal that will include a weekly TV series and projects and films on its digital platforms.
The HBO deal was an unsurprising soft landing for the coveted Simmons, whose decade-and-a-half run at ESPN ended abruptly in early May when he was informed via ESPN president John Skipper’s comments to the New York Times that his contract would be allowed to expire. Simmons had crossed ESPN management, which has a $15.2 billion rights deal with the NFL to broadcast games, with his pointed criticism of Goodell, the league commissioner.
But some mystery has remained about what else Simmons, who founded and wrote for the Grantland website and hosted the popular B.S. Report podcast among other achievements, may do and where he may do it.
It still has not been revealed where his writing will be found or whether he will launch another Grantland-style site. But Simmons has dropped some details on Twitter regarding the podcast, and an industry source with knowledge of his plans revealed more information Thursday to this reporter on what’s to come.
The podcast will be called The Bill Simmons Podcast rather than the B.S. Report. Three podcasts per week will be produced in the first six months. It will be found in the usual places initially — iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Spotify, and so on — and a web page will eventually be created as a landing spot.
Whenever Kirk Minihane is absent from WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” for more than a day or two, the same question arrives via e-mail and social media: Is he suspended? But his absence this week from “D&C” is hardly controversial. He’s been sick, and his return is day to day . . . A NESN spokesman said the network plans to announce its Bruins rinkside reporter in October. Buzz around training camp is that it will be Sarah Nicole Davis, a studio host at the network.