CARVER, Mass.–Heavy rains recently transformed the rectangular plots of Francis Flynn’s cranberry bogs into dark, murky pools of standing water. The cloud cover above is so heavy that Flynn is forced to use a flashlight in mid-afternoon as he checks the engine of one of his tractors–one of several with a hanging Red Sox logo painted onto the front end. There is not much the cranberry harvester can do on rainy days aside from taking refuge in the dryness of his storage shed.
With summer’s dog days on the nearby horizon, the rainfall keeps his bogs nourished and healthy. The Red Sox are in first place and it should be a good year for cranberries. Yet Flynn still sighs as he organizes his shed’s tool rack.
“I wish I knew what was going on with Heidi. I’m bored with her,” Flynn says, shaking his head. “Last year, every time she was on camera felt like some momentous event. Lately, though? I’ve got to admit she hasn’t been doing it for me.”
After expressing strong hopesfor Watney’s sophomore season as NESN’s on-field personality in March, Flynn’s feelings toward the blond-haired reporter have cooled considerably.
“Yeah, of course I still think she’s attractive. It’s just seeing her two or three times a game? Every night, all summer long? I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to the All-Star Break next week. Will Erin Andrews be covering the Home Run Derby for ESPN again?”
Flynn is unable to pinpoint exactly what spawned his boredom, but offers some hard criticism of Watney’s wardrobe choices thus far in 2009.
“She’s wearing scarves and long sleeves on 70-degree days at the ballpark. That’s just plain wrong,” he said. “And there’s that one blue shirt that she wears about once or twice a week. I wish NESN had a rule where once Heidi wears something on air, it gets thrown away after the broadcast.”
Watney’s unchanging hair styling has also miffed Flynn over the first half of the 2009 season.
“She wears it the same way every night. I say curl it or put it in a ponytail or braid it or just do something different with it. She’s so stubborn. You know what it reminds me of? Papelbon’s insistence on throwing sliders lately. Maybe both of them have lost something off their fastballs…”
Flynn measures his response carefully when asked if he would prefer Watney be replaced or temporarily spelled by colleague Kathryn Tappen.
“It’s not that I don’t think she can do it…I think she’s done a good job working the Bruins games and all that,” he says. “But it just seems like she’s a poor man’s Heidi. If I’m sick of Heidi, what’s Kathryn Tappen going to add at this point?”
The possibility of teaming both of them together briefly intrigues the pensive Flynn.
“You know, maybe. Heidi’s in a rut. The Sox’ bats are in a rut…It’s drastic, but maybe that’s what we need,” Flynn says. “A shake up of the lineup, so to speak.”
Still, the cranberry bogger hints at a clear departure from the ethnic diversity NESN once boasted. The Filipino-born and Canadian-reared Hazel Mae, former SportsDesk anchor, left the station last year and has since landed a gig with MLB Network.
“After Hazel left, they basically replaced her with some white guy who gives in-game updates,” laments Flynn. “I think I was less upset when Theo tried to replace Pedro Martinez with Matt Clement. You mean to tell me there haven’t been any other female Asian or Spanish television reporters looking for a job over the last year?”
A thunder shower moves through the area and drizzle gives way to a steady downpour. Flynn puts on his red rain jacket and fastens its hood around his head as he exits his tool shed. As the rain becomes heavier, Flynn realizes he has left the window to his tractor open and the driver’s side has become flooded with incoming rainwater. Cursing like a longshoreman, he angrily slams the door after rolling up the window.
“I hate to say it,” Flynn says as he peers up at the sky, “But I think Heidi’s time may be up.”