After recent news, is TV the answer for Remy?

After recent news, is TV the answer for Remy?
March 24, 2014, 2:00 pm
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Remy, NESN announced in a release, will not broadcast another Red Sox game in 2013.

(AP Images)

This past March 15 marked seven months since 27-year-old Jennifer Martel was murdered at her apartment in Waltham. And yesterday, the Boston Globe published an incredible story by Eric Moskowitz that went much deeper into the circumstances surrounding her death, as well the life of her boyfriend and alleged killer: Jared Remy.
 
Of course, Jared Remy is the son of Jerry Remy, the long time Red Sox broadcaster who took a leave of absence immediately after the incident last summer. Given the incredibly troubling nature of the story (a neighbor witnessed Jared stab Martell repeatedly on the front porch), as well as the impending trial, ongoing custody battle (the pair had a 5-year-old daughter) and reports that the Remys may have talked Martell out of filing a restraining order the night before she was murdered, it was fair to wonder if Jerry Remy would ever return to TV. That maybe he’d elect to stay out of the spotlight as opposed to popping up on Boston’s biggest stage 150 or so times a year and exposing himself to relentless grind of baseball season.
 
But in late January, Remy announced that he would return full time in 2014.
 
“I felt for a couple of months, for two or three months, that it was over,” Remy told a group of reporters at the NESN studios. “There’s no way I was coming back. I had two main concerns: What the public would think and whether I could be myself. The answers at that time [in November and December] were no.”
 
But ultimately, Remy’s friends and family convinced him otherwise and he decided to comeback.
 
“I hope in no way that my decision to do games has a negative impact on the Martel family,” he said. “I’m quite certain they understand I have to make a living, and unfortunately mine is in the public eye. I’m quite certain they understand that.”
 
If you haven’t read the story in yesterday’s Globe, you should do it right now. But be warned: It will make you angry. It will leave you frustrated. There will be numerous times when you’ll have to put down your phone or newspaper or look away from your computer screen just to smash yourself in the face with a frying pan. When you’re done, you’ll know with every ounce of your being that Jennifer Martel should still be alive today. That Jared Remy should’ve been somewhere else (jail, an institution, any other kind of custody) instead of in a position to do what he did. He should have been put away before he and Martell ever met — if not for more than a decade’s worth of negligence by the very people who are supposed to protect society from things like murder and people like Jared Remy.
 
Moskowitz’s reporting revealed a long history of emotional issues that turned violent as Remy got older — and very often towards women. We’re talking regular death threats, trying to throw a pregnant girlfriend out of a speeding car, choking that same girlfriend while she held their now-born baby and dragging another girlfriend down the stairs and breaking her nose. In all, there were 20 different court cases. More than 10 times, according to story, Remy was arrested “while already serving probation or waiting for an earlier case to be resolved.” Yet aside from one 81-day stint in jail, Remy was rarely punished. Not significantly. Not by the judicial system (which gave him chance after unwarranted chance) or his parents (who were still supporting him financially). His record didn’t stop him from getting a job at Fenway or terrorizing just about anyone who looked at him the wrong way.
 
So, who’s to blame? Jared Remy, obviously. Some people will also blame his parents. But before you get there, spend some time on the judicial system. That’s the real problem. The way Remy so effortlessly and defiantly walked in and out of the courtroom is one of the most disturbing aspects of this entire story, and that’s saying something. It’s a terrifying joke. During an incident in 2001 (the one where he broke his girlfriend’s nose), Remy bragged that “he always wins” in court. He truly believed that he was above the law. And even worse, he was right. Listen, I’m not an expert on the inner workings of the Massachusetts judicial system, so I won’t try to be. But we’ve got some serious problems. This tragedy may have ended with that horrible scene in Waltham, but it began in the courtroom.
 
Blame the Remys all you want. But at the end of the day, they’re still Jared’s parents. They’re still connected with him on a level that no one else can understand or should even try to. And anyway, it’s not like Jared Remy is 17 years old. He’s 35. Is it really fair to hold parents accountable for the actions of a grown man? And even going back as far as 15 years, once a ‘child’ gets to the point where he’s trying to throw pregnant women from speeding cars, I think that’s out of a parent’s jurisdiction. That’s why we have law enforcement. That’s why we have the judicial system. We rely on these unbiased, well-intentioned and logical authorities to keep us in order. To keep us safe. In the case of Jared Remy, they failed. They failed Jennifer Martel. They failed everyone.
 
Yeah, the Remys made some mistakes. Jerry has admitted to enabling his son’s behavior. There are so many things he wishes he’d done differently. At the same time, there wasn’t a total lack of awareness. In 1996, Remy actually called the Weston Police to report Jared for harassing a girl. And in terms of last summer’s tragedy, it’s worth noting that it had been nearly eight years since Jared’s last violence-related arrest. Not that he was an angel during that time, but he’d stayed out of serious trouble.
 
His parents probably thought, at least hoped beyond hope, that that level of behavior was behind him. And when it reared its ugly head again last August (Remy was arrested for allegedly throwing Martell into a mirror), they probably panicked. They knew how far he’d come. They were proud of how far he’d come. They didn’t want to believe that it was all falling part. Instead, they believed — because they wanted to believe — that this was just one little relapse and that Jared would be OK. That they could help make it OK. They’d do anything. They’re his parents. So, allegedly, they convinced Jennifer Martell not to press charges.
 
Remy was released and Martell was dead a night later.
 
It’s that last part that will earn Jerry Remy the most criticism as this story continues to play out. It’s very easy for the rest of the world to sit back and pretend they would have done better. That they would’ve handled it perfectly. That if Jared Remy was their son, they’d have stomped their feet and told the judge to throw the book at him.
 
But I don’t know. I really don’t. To think of it another way: Imagine you have a father or brother or a best friend who’s an alcoholic. He has three DUIs in his past. He’s lost his license numerous times. But now he’s sober. He’s been sober for eight years. And you love that he is. You know how hard it’s been and how far he’s come.
 
Then late one night, after eight long years, he knocks on your door. You answer, and he’s wasted. He tells you that he just drove his car into an oak tree down the street, and he needs your help. You walk down to the crash and there’s no one around. The tree is still in one piece. The car’s still very drivable. What you do? Do you call the cops? Flush his life down the toilet? Or do you get in the driver’s seat and take him home. Bring him inside. Put him to bed. Tell yourself that this was just one little slip up, and vow to make sure he finds help.
 
I don’t know. It’s sometimes so hard to see straight with the ones we love. So, let’s say you go with the second option. Now let’s say that next day, he’s drunk again behind the wheel and kills a jogger. How does that make you feel? What does it say about you? What level of responsibility do you claim for this loss of life?
 
Again, I don’t know. At the very least, while I can’t support what allegedly happened between the initial attack and Martell’s decision not to press charges, I can see where the Remys were coming from. I don’t agree with what they did, but I understand it.
 
Either way, it’s now something they’ll have to deal with. It’s part of the story. And this story isn’t going anywhere. There will be headlines and developments right on up until the trial (tentatively scheduled for October 7, 2014) and beyond. And it might not always be a great look for Jerry.
 
For that matter, neither will the sight of him on TV.
 
And hey, that’s just my opinion. I’m not going to tell Jerry Remy that he shouldn’t get paid. I’m not going to tell NESN that they should strip a man of his job. I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s a good idea for Remy to be back in the booth when the regular season kicks off next Monday. As a viewer, I’d rather not see him there.
 
That might not be fair. After all, Remy’s meant a lot to this city and this team. Boston cares about Jerry Remy, and when someone you care about finds themselves in a situation like this, you’re not supposed to turn your back on him. You’re supposed to support him.
 
But it’s possible to support him and also believe that he shouldn’t be back in the booth. Just because he wants to return, doesn’t mean a return is what’s best.
 
In that first quote back in January, he said that there were two major factors initially holding him back:
 
1. What the public would think.
2. Whether he could be himself.
 
Well, as this story continues to unfold, and more details arise, I think it will be harder and harder for Sox fans to separate the two lives of Jerry Remy. There’s no reading a story like the one in yesterday’s Globe (and others that are sure to follow) and then forgetting it all while Remy yucks it up for nine innings with Don. It’s too deep. Too dark. And the Remys are too involved. Jared wasn’t some estranged son living off in the woods of Montana. He was right there. The Remys were right there.
 
And as we get closer to the trial, it will be harder and harder for Jerry Remy two separate those two lives, too. How can he possibly be himself? Who is ‘himself’ anymore?
 
Remy was on the radio with Dennis and Callahan in January, right after his announcement, and "himself" sounded like a broken man. A father and husband who had been beaten to the core by a horrible tragedy. Not a man who was ready to take on a seven-month, 162-game season.
 
And again, that’s just my opinion. That with the story set to linger, and Dennis Eckersley waiting in the wings, all parties — NESN, Remy and the fans — would be better off with Remy taking another step back.
 
But that’s probably not going to happen. It’s looks like Remy and NESN are ready to go on as planned, and that he’ll be back in the booth for a 27th season when the Sox take the field next Monday in Baltimore.
 
What happens next is anyone’s guess. I’m obviously hoping for the best. I’m just not expecting it. And either way, it’s probably worth taking our own step back to remember how little any of this even matters. That any conversation over whether or not Jerry Remy should return to the Red Sox means less than nothing compared to the reason we’re having that conversation to begin with.
 
Because a 27-year-old woman was brutally murdered.
 
Because a five-year-old girl will now grow up without parents.
 
And it didn’t have to be that way.
 
The system let them down.
 
If nothing else, we can only hope that this tragedy brings those issues to light, and helps us all realize how desperately that system needs to change.
 
Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine