NESN play-by-play man Don Orsillo politely refuses to step out of his car in the City of Palms Park parking lot until he’s finished all six of his Boston crème donuts—or, as he likes to call it, “breakfast.”
“Every last crumb. It’s a labor of love. Some days, I like to wash the donuts down with a couple of those Jolt colas,” Orsillo admits with a grin. “On those days, I’d say it’s more like a brunch. Hee hee…”
Once out of his car, Orsillo enlists one of the team’s on-field assistants to pick him up in a golf cart to carry him the remaining 50 yards between the parking lot and the entrance to the press box elevator—lest he risk burning precious calories by walking.
After disembarking from the beleaguered vehicle, several team employees coax Orsillo into flashing the newly acquired gut he worked so hard at achieving during the cold winter months.
Sheepishly, Orsillo obliges, lifting his golf polo up to his chest, revealing his massive abdomen.
Giggling, poking, slapping, tickling and general rough-housing ensue. Orsillo and his NESN teammates clearly enjoy a special camaraderie that defies tangibility or even any description coming close to having a semblance of coherent analysis.
Even at first glance, it is obvious to casual observers that Orsillo did not just stand pat this offseason. Red Sox coaches have already taken notice.
“He clearly rested on his laurels this offseason,” said general manager Theo Epstein. “You have to respect that. He knew he had a job locked up and he didn’t just go about it preparing the same way he always did during the past. He went out there and worked at carving out a new niche for himself this winter. In this game, you have to do that, otherwise you become replaceable.”
“I can’t even imagine he even looked at a treadmill this offseason,” said one hitting instructor. “I hope lethargy isn’t contagious…If it is, keep him away from my players.”
Orsillo, breathing heavily through his mouth, explains why he made changes to his conditioning routine this offseason.
“There’re always younger broadcasters coming up, giving your job the eye, gunning for your livelihood,” he says. “I want to make sure I stand out and I’m pretty sure no one is going to be able to ignore me like this.”
Sponsors have already taken notice. While Orsillo and partner Jerry Remy typically enjoy free Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and donuts during Red Sox home games, other local businesses hope to enter the fray in 2011.
“Papa Gino’s called me this morning,” Orsillo says. “They want me to eat a whole pepperoni pizza every night during the fifth inning. I immediately said ‘yes,’ obviously.”
Meanwhile, Orsillo will eat an entire crock pot of Legal Seafoods clam chowder twice per week during the 7th inning stretch.
Privately, NESN executives couldn’t be more excited or more optimistic about the upcoming 2011 campaign.
“Buckle up, if you can get the seatbelt around your torso,” said one NESN programming director. “This season is going to be one helluva ride.”