There’s not been nearly as much outpouring of public fury over ESPN’s employment of Martin Tyler to do play-by-play for this summer’s World Cup from South Africa as there was just 4 years ago when longtime baseball announcer Dave O’Brien worked the tournament alongside former US international Marcelo Balboa. At the time, O’Brien dismissed such criticism as the work “a petulant little clique of soccer fans. There™s not many of them, but they™re mean-spirited. ¦ And they™re not really the audience we want to reach anyway. With such defensiveness in mind, the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn quizzed O’Brien — currently doing Red Sox broadcasts for WEEI — about what it’s like to watch the planet’s biggest sporting event without making a fool of yourself.
œI™m watching every minute. Watching every minute I can see,™™ said O™Brien. œI think it™s spectacular,™™ he added. œI think I™m there. I don™t feel like I™m missing it because, as a fan now, I get to experience what everyone else experienced in ™06, this incredible event unfolding day by day. So I don™t miss it.™™
O™Brien, who was teamed with underwhelming analyst Marcelo Balboa four years ago, says now that the criticism doesn™t damage his fond memories.
œIt was a tremendously positive experience,™™ O™Brien said. œWe got nominated for an Emmy for the work we did in ™06, the ratings were great. All the barometers we wanted to hit, we hit.”
O™Brien, who said it was his decision œto remove himself from the equation this year,™™ has clearly moved past any frustrations he harbored four years ago.
œLooking back, I think in some way, we helped move the coverage forward in a direction it needed to go,™™ he said. œThere were some growing pains there. I think that to get to this level, at the level of the presentation the games are at now, maybe that had to happen.”