There have many been odd and surreal moments on NESN in the 33 seasons it has been the home of Red Sox broadcasts. The awkward but heartwarming salute to the departing Don Orsillo in last year’s finale will last as a memory. The infamous “pizza throw” — when one fan’s heaved brushback of another fan with a slice of pizza sent Orsillo and Jerry Remy into fits of laughter during an April 2007 broadcast — is an episode of jocularity that returns to mind every time you see someone at Fenway with a Papa Gino’s box.
And there have been celebrations on other networks that took on R-rated twists. After the Red Sox clinched the American League East in 1986, rookie pitcher Rob Woodward unwittingly starred in his own prolonged nude scene in the background of a Channel 4 live shot. Poor guy wasn’t even wearing a sanitary sock.
But it’s tough to imagine anything matching the combination of the surreal and the ribald that NESN’s live postgame coverage from the Red Sox celebratory clubhouse provided Wednesday night.
The Red Sox had just suffered what in most other circumstances would have been a crushing loss, with the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira hitting a walkoff grand slam off Joe Kelly in New York’s 5-3 win. But because the Orioles had defeated the Blue Jays moments earlier, the Red Sox had locked up the AL East title before their game had been settled.
It made for an unusual on-field scene, with the Yankees celebrating at home plate while the Red Sox subtly shook each others’ hands in the dugout, looking unsure of how to deal with the situation. “The Red Sox and Yankees are both celebrating on the same night,’’ said Remy, accompanying Dave O’Brien’s spot-on call and noting that the whole situation was “bizarre.”
But that was nothing compared to the postgame scene in the clubhouse, the portion of the program in which Red Sox players had to briefly pretend that they were bothered by losing the game. NESN carried the scene live, and it paid off when manager John Farrell implored his team to enjoy the moment with a commanding speech that served as insight into his true strengths as a manager.
“You guys are going to enjoy tonight,’’ he said. “You marched through six straight [expletive] months. You busted your [expletive]. You defied some of the [expletive] that people will say about you. You went about . . . there are a lot of people in here that have a lot to be proud off. Guys that were knocked down, came back, busted your [expletive] and got us to this point. Do not let one inning take away from the fact that we’re sitting atop of this division as AL East champions.
“This is one stop,’’ he continued. “This is one stop. There are three more to go. This team is prepared. You’re tough. You’re smart. And more than anything you care for one another. And that’s the most important thing.”
That was the only cue the players needed to get the party started and the bottles popping. But it was only the beginning of the expletives. Anyone who was in our city in April 2013 knows David Ortiz can use curse words to great effect, but he went for quantity above quality Wednesday night. (A NESN spokesman did not respond to a request regarding whether the network had considered implementing a delay rather than going live.)
Provided you weren’t offended by the language, or for that matter sideline reporter’s Gary Striewski’s occasional references to “we” (the rule of thumb is that you have to have your own baseball-reference.com page to refer to a team as we), it was a wholly enjoyable broadcast, a peek behind the scenes that fans don’t often get.
And there were many candid and appealing moments, from Koji Uehara’s embrace of Ortiz while blurting, “I love you Papi,’’ to the redeemed Hanley Ramirez’s congratulatory hug from Dave Dombrowski, to Andrew Benintendi looking so impossibly young in his goggles that studio host Tom Caron felt obligated to note that the 22-year-old outfielder is indeed old enough for such a celebration.
A few minutes later, it was Caron who summed up the whole vibe of the night, one that becomes an instant part of NESN lore.
“They did it in bizarre fashion,” he said. “But they did it.”
Ortiz film on hold
The clinching and ensuing celebration led NESN to postpone the premiere of “The David Ortiz Era,’’ its second film about the retiring Red Sox slugger. The documentary, which was scheduled to air immediately following Wednesday’s game, instead was rescheduled to debut Thursday night following a considerably less consequential Red Sox-Yankees game. NESN’s first documentary on the subject, titled “David Ortiz: The Journey,” premiered Sept. 16 . . . NESN will have the broadcast of the final regular-season game of Ortiz’s career Sunday, but the game will also be carried locally and nationally by TBS. Ernie Johnson is on the call (with Ron Darling and Cal Ripken Jr. as analysts) in case you were wondering if the network might activate Orsillo for the occasion.
For those among us who are incredulous when particularly hyperbolic celebrants mention Ortiz and Ted Williams in the same breath, there’s something for you too this week. The MLB Network will debut “MLB Network Presents: .406” on Sunday night at 8 p.m. If you require an explanation of what the .406 represents, chances are you don’t even know you have the MLB Network . . . Alex Rodriguez was an insightful, engaging revelation as a guest analyst on Fox’s American League Championship Series and World Series broadcasts last season. So it comes as little surprise — especially now that he’s not on a major league roster — that he will return in the same role for all of Fox’s postseason coverage this year, which includes the National League Division and Championship Series as well as the World Series.