Being fired

It is the summer of being fired.  The man who made the phrase “you’re fired!” was fired from a bunch of stuff:  The Apprentice, Macy’s, NBC, and the list goes on.  But Donald Trump has not been fired by the Republican Party.  There is a way to go before the first caucuses and primaries so there is time, but as long as he stays at 25% of the Republican vote it will be hard to fire him as a candidate.

But there was another Don fired this summer in Boston.  Don Orsillo, the Red Sox television play-by-play announcer.  The public announcement was made in a very ungracious way by NESN and the Red Sox brass while Don was on the air.  We can only suppose that he had been told in advance.  Chad Finn wrote in his column for Boston.com

We’re veteran bickerers and dedicated cynics around here – hell, it’s why two sports radio stations are not just sustainable but successful in Boston. We can’t get a consensus on which glove Hanley Ramirez should take to work each day, and yet the support for Orsillo is overwhelming. It says something about the man, I think. It’s a remarkable tribute.

The genesis of the consensus and the disappointment is fundamental. You feel like you’ve lost a friend.

Orsillo has been a television voice of the Red Sox since 2001 and the sole TV voice since 2005, when the excellent Sean McDonough’s tenurecalling the team’s games met a similarly graceless end.

To add the icing to the not so edible cake was the lack of comment from the Red Sox management.  When Tom Werner finally spoke he basically said nothing.  Steve Buckley wrote in the Boston Herald

It was going to be impossible for the Red Sox and NESN to move the popular and talented Don Orsillo out of the television booth without there being a major public outcry.

Still, the situation could have been handled better — with better timing and a whole lot more candor. But the news of Orsillo’s ouster was leaked out, as often happens in these cases, and then Red Sox/NESN management got quiet instead of getting out in front of the story.

Which brings us to the question of the day: Why, exactly, is Orsillo being replaced?

The answer, in the opinion of Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and NESN president/CEO Sean McGrail, is that they believe Dave O’Brien, currently the play-by-play man on the radio side, will be an upgrade.

Don Orsillo

Don Orsillo

I listen to the radio quite a bit and, yes, Dave O’Brien is good.  But the combination of Orsillo and Jerry Remy is what I call entertainment.  I don’t want to debate the merits of various play-by-play announcers, but to pay tribute to Don Orsillo.

Don Orsillo has stayed on the air without betraying any of the bitterness he has a right to feel.  Unlike the Red Sox owners, he is a consummate professional.  He will land on his feet somewhere and that will be Boston’s loss.  I wish him well.

 

Reading mysteries in the summer

I’ve been spending considerable time this summer on our upstairs screened in porch watching the birds fly by (it must overlook some kind of bird flyway), the sky, and the squirrels dancing on the wires.  And reading.

In my reading life, I have always interspersed serious non-fiction and non-mystery fiction with lots of mysteries.  I’ve written in the past about some of my old favorites:  P. D. James, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh.  I began reading them in high school introduced by my mother who was also a prolific mystery reader.  But yesterday I was looking back at what I had been reading and re-reading this summer and it seems to be mostly three very different writers.

I had read the first two books in Archer Mayor/Joe Gunther series many years ago when they first were published.  I think my Vermont brother-in-law gave one to my mother who passed it on to me.  Fast forward.  I moved to Vermont a year ago and the local author, Archer Mayor, was just publishing Proof Positive.  I rushed down to the wonderful local bookstore, Mystery on Main, and purchased a signed copy.  I read it and loved it.  Now I was on a mission, one which has gone on into this summer, to read all the rest in the series before Mayor writes another.  I am probably not going to make it as it has a September release.  Six to go and I not only have to read them, but also find copies.

Archer

For anyone who hasn’t read Mayor, he writes about a Vermont police officer from my new hometown, Brattleboro.  At some point Joe Gunther stopped being a local Bratt cop and joined a made-up state investigative bureau.  The owner of Mystery on Main, some of the other members of the book group I just joined, and I were speculating that he had to go statewide because there just aren’t that many people murdered around here.  I have to confess that I find the books a bit uneven, but the best ones (The Skeleton’s Knee, Occam’s Razor, and Proof Positive) are excellent and even the ones I enjoyed the least (The Dark Root and The Disposable Man) are very good.  He evokes Vermont landscape and politics. One murder took place across the street from me.  I enjoy driving around town and locating scenes of the crimes.  Good reads.  I would call them a Vermont version of a hardboiled police procedural.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the English novels of Robert Barnard featuring Charlie Peace.  I’ve read a couple of Barnard’s over the years including the very funny Political Suicide, but until I found The Chaste Apprentice unread on my bookshelf, I hadn’t realized that he had a written series featuring a black police inspector.  The plots are entertaining as Barnard generally is, but the discussion of how being black in the Leeds, England area and the effect on detection show how stereotyping are not just American.  I’ve only read three and a half books in the series and not in order as I’m reading them as I find them in the library, but in one of the later books, A Charitable Body, Peace is married to a white woman and they have two children.  Felicity (I haven’t finished the book yet) seems to be critical in solving the mystery.  Barnard is expert at taking ordinary situations like a summer festival and inserting not only a mystery, but poking fun at his characters and settings.

Maron

The third group of books I’ve been reading this summer are the Margaret Maron/Deborah Knott books.  Maron’s books evoke North Carolina in the same way Mayor evokes Vermont and Barnard, England.  But Joe Gunther is basically a loner with a small team and a few friends while Deborah Knott has 11 older brothers with all of the wives and children to say nothing of aunts, uncles and cousins surrounding her.  Knott is a district court judge who over the course of 19 books has been involved in a great many of the murders in Maron’s imaginary Colleton County (somewhere near Raleigh/Durham).  They aren’t quite “cozy” but they are very family centered.  Maron’s twentieth Deborah Knott book will be published tomorrow.  She has announced she expects it to be the last in the series, but like the rest of her fans I hope she will change her mind at some point down the road.

I’ve read all 19 of the Deborah Knott books before so this summer I was re-reading a few of them partly in anticipation of the new release but also because the church burnings that followed the murders in Charleston, SC reminded of me Home Fires.  Home Fires centers around the burning of three black churches and the discovery of a body which is identified as a young black organizer who had gone missing years prior.  It is about race relations in North Carolina between whites and blacks as well as the hierarchy of color between African-Americans themselves.  It is a very different take on race and racial attitudes that Deborah confronts than the one facing Charlie Peace.  I’ll have think about this and explore it further.

But for now, I’m enjoying being variously in England, North Carolina, and home in Vermont confronting crime from a distance.