Tony Massarotti still loves baseball.
No, seriously. He does, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. Drop into a segment of the wildly popular “Felger and Massarotti” show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and you might convince yourself Massarotti would be happier if hardball just went away.
“I’ve almost reached the point where if you don’t have a deal by Monday, bail on the whole season,” Massarotti said on the radio recently, following a rather contentious baseball bargaining session. “Cancel it! You want me to pick a side? Here’s where I’m gonna pick a side. You either give me the full product — I sort of look at it from the fan’s perspective. I want it all or I want nothing. I want what you’re usually supposed to give me because I feel like baseball as an entity has given fans very little or nothing over the last few seasons.”
Less than three weeks later, Massarotti was named one of the newest TV analysts for the Red Sox on NESN.
That rant, though, is a perfect encapsulation of Massarotti, who then was pressed on his opinion and eventually backed down, saying of course he’d take an abbreviated season. Luckily for him and baseball fans, a new labor agreement was reached, and we’ll get 162 games.
And don’t let the talk-show rants fool you. Yes, there are areas in which Massarotti believes the game can be improved, but he’s still a diehard at the end of the day.
“I still like the nuances of the game, I just wish there were more of them,” Massarotti said. “I think we’ve lost some of that. I still like the game in general. I like the game overall. I don’t hate it, I just don’t like the direction it’s been heading in. I don’t like what it is relative to what it used to be. I still like and want the athleticism. I want more pace. But if the game is played with more pace and athleticism, it’s still an entertaining game. I don’t have a problem with the sport. I have a problem with the way the sport is played now. I love the sport.”
That honest opinion should make Massarotti a very interesting addition to the NESN broadcast in 2022. He says he’ll reel himself in a little bit, but he also knows that passion and his opinionated nature are what landed him the gig in the first place. When there’s something that rubs him the wrong way, he’ll be sure to let you know in a way only he can.
But, despite his rant about wanting to see the sport implode upon itself, he’ll almost certainly default to his truest form: a baseball fan.
“It’s one of those things where you say, ‘Why do you like it?’ You say, ‘Well, I just do.’ In a lot of ways, I don’t think you pick what you like in life. I think you just like it and gravitate toward it,” he explained in a manner that would make Jim Bouton happy.
“To me, that’s how it’s always been with baseball.”
As for what specifically still gets Massarotti excited about the sport, it often comes back to the individual performances that make you stop what you’re doing and watch.
“I like great individual performances. I like seeing that in the context of the game,” he said. “We’ve lost some of that, and I’d like to get it back. I like the complete game with 12 strikeouts and one walk. I know we don’t have a lot of that now, but there’s still something to be said for the great individual performance when you watch it that makes you stay in your seat and really appreciate it and those are the ones you like to see.”