Matt Stairs had a great baseball career. Probably not as good as it could have been (Bill James quote goes here) but Stairs enters retirement with very little regrets, one would hope.

Matt Stairs begins his post-baseball playing career just as he spent much of his time in uniform: only working part time. The official Red Sox broadcaster NESN announced today that former A’s/Expos/Blue Jays/Padres/Tigers/Whatever Major League outfielder Matt Stairs will serve as an occasional in-studio analyst during the upcoming season.

The Sox also announce they replaced the outgoing Heidi Watney, who now covers the LA Lakers for Time Warner, with Jenny Dell of ESPN. Dell is from the area and brings an impressive resume with extensive work both on camera and off. Jenny Dell, as you may or may not have assumed, is fantastically attractive.

Treading on thin ice as I might be, it is difficult to separate the “talents” of on-air personalities like Dell from her obvious physical gifts. Posting images culled from Google with heavy breathing comments makes me feel like a misogynist but ignoring the elephant in the room, which NES CEO Sean McGrail distils to its nebulous essence when he describes “her ability to connect with viewers”, would be insincere. I’m not made of stone here!

To reach the level of Dell or Erin Andrews or Heidi Watney, it takes all kinds of talent and hard work. The TV world is lousy with attractive people with nothing to say, just as the entire universe is full of less aesthetically-pleasing humans who don’t have the chops or look to make for good television. It is the nature of the beast. To get hired by a company as big as NESN, you must have both “reporting skills” and “slim-fitting pantsuit skills” in spades.

That doesn’t make it right. That on-air talent like Jenny Dell must spend equal time watching game videos and in spin class is simply the (uncomfortable) nature of the beast. You can’t fight City Hall and you can’t fight the desire of lots (and lots) of people to get in-game factoids from a good looking person. One day that barrier for entry might fall but that is the colour and shape of the industry for now. Why kid ourselves?