Tony Massarotti, quite frankly, doesn’t fit the profile of a Major League Baseball TV analyst. He’ll tell you as much himself.
Yet, Massarotti is bucking a very established media trend when he joins the NESN broadcast team for the 2022 Boston Red Sox season.
The seat next to Dave O’Brien, in the past, has been reserved for a very specific type of person. The analyst role has long been filled by an ex-player, particularly one who played for the team. It’s been that way for as long as any of us can remember.
So when Massarotti — whose baseball experience peaked as a member of the Tufts University team — learned he was being considered for the NESN role, he was as surprised as anyone.
“When the idea popped up, I was stunned,” Massarotti said. “I just did not think I was someone who fit the profile of what NESN was looking for, fit the profile of what the team was looking for. In that regard, I give them a lot of credit.”
Massarotti’s baseball chops, despite never having been paid to play the sport, are undeniable. He covered the team as a beat reporter in the mid-1990s and has been a Boston media mainstay since then. He’s best known at this point in his career as part of arguably the most successful sports radio program in the history of the city, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Felger and Mazz.”
Of course, it’s what he’s done on that ratings juggernaut that seemingly further disqualified him for the job even more. Massarotti isn’t shy about offering his opinion about anything, especially the Red Sox — and quite often, it’s rather critical. Case in point: He probably still has his reservations about a 2013 Boston team that won the World Series.
“I just think as a member of the print media, in particular, you can be really harsh sometimes, let alone in talk radio,” Massarotti said. “Heaven knows I’ve probably lost control of my emotions on multiple occasions over the years for things that have happened with the Red Sox. The short answer is I did not see this coming.”
Massarotti will be appointment viewing once the season begins, though. His greatest strength is the unique combination of being New England through and through, while simultaneously being an outsider when it comes to calling baseball on TV. He offers a completely new point of view as someone who grew up a diehard fan and who covered the game closely outside the lines.
“I think I can offer the perspective of what a fan feels and what a fan thinks when they watch the game,” he explained. “I was (a fan), I like to think I can separate the two, but I grew up knowing what the team means to the people here and what sports mean to people in this market.
“We’re a little psycho. We’re ill-adjusted and we probably place too much emphasis on it, but that’s the way we are.”
Passion and energy are what make the Red Sox fan experience so unique, especially in 2022. As we were reminded in the 2021 postseason, baseball still means a helluva lot to the average New England sports fan.
No one knows that better than Massarotti.
“Being a fan is an emotional thing, it’s an emotional response, it makes you feel a certain thing,” Massarotti said. “I think those are things you have to be able to express when you’re covering a team or talking about a team or analyzing a game.”