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Possible Heidi Watney replacements

11.17.11 at 1:26 pm ET

Following a historic collapse in September, Red Sox fans knew there would be plenty of personalities around the Red Sox that would be out of Boston. Some of the early losses include manager Terry Francona, general manager Theo Epstein and closer Jonathan Papelbon. But Red Sox fans were stung with one of the more surprising departures Wednesday when NESN announced sideline reporter Heidi Watney was leaving the network after four seasons of coverage. The Red Sox failed to win a World Series with Watney as their sideline reporter and finished no higher than second in the AL East during her tenure. While Red Sox management now focuses on finding the next Red Sox manager, NESN will turn its focus to finding the next Heidi Watney. Here’s a list of ten possible candidates to replace Watney.

Katie Couric

If NESN is looking for someone with more of a news background, Katie Couric could be a good pick. Couric, like Watney, is a blonde. She is familiar with the team through her previous relationship with team chairman Tom Werner, but those ties may be permanently severed after the two split in 2005 following a four-year relationship. Couric also is not shy about revealing anything in front of the camera, as she underwent a live colonoscopy on the Today show in 2000 in order to raise awareness for colon cancer. She has proven she can ask the tough questions, as she did in an interview with Alex Rodriguez about steroids.

Terry Francona:

Since the former manager announced he will not manage in 2012, perhaps he would be interested in a job as a sideline reporter for the Red Sox. Ever-critical Red Sox fans might appreciate his thoughts on the next Red Sox manager’s in-game decisions, and his interviews with second baseman and cribbage foe Dustin Pedroia promise to be extremely entertaining. Francona has media familiarity both because of the countless press conferences and interviews he conducted as a manager and from his brief stint as a substitute color analyst during the 2011 American League Championship Series.

Denis Leary

A Massachusetts native, Leary has plenty of connections with the Red Sox. Leary was born in Worcester and attended Emerson College, which is right down the street from Fenway. He narrated the 2004 World Series collectors DVD and appeared in a MasterCard commercial where he had to face credit card collectors who came after him following the World Series championship in which he promised to give a part of his body if the Red Sox won the World Series. Leary also shared his thoughts on first baseman Kevin Youkilis during an appearance in the NESN booth with Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo in 2006.

Kelly Malone

If NESN wants to go with someone with New England ties, WEEI’s Kelly Malone may be a good fit. Malone does fill-in reading for the Sports Flash updates on The Dennis & Callahan Show. Away from WEEI, she hosts “What’s in Store” on TV38 and WBZ-TV and serves as the spokesperson for Subaru of New England. She has also done some PA announcing for the Boston Bruins, including announcing some of the Bruins youth hockey shootouts featured between periods on NESN.

Kevin Millar

The former Red Sox first baseman has shown an interest in being on camera, as he has worked for both MLB Network and NESN as an analyst after retiring from baseball in 2009. Millar’s gregarious personality and sense of humor could entertain fans, and he has extensive knowledge of baseball and the AL East following seven seasons playing in Boston, Baltimore and Toronto. Millar also showed that he is a championship-caliber personality as he won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2004.

Wendi Nix

Another Boston-area sportscaster, Nix used to work for NESN. She spent three years as a sports anchor/reporter for NBC’s Boston affiliate, WHDH. She currently covers college football, pro football and golf for ESPN. Since 2010, she has been the host on ESPN2’s college football pre-, halftime and post-game shows. A graduate of Wofford College, Nix continued with her education and received her masters degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The biggest strike against her, however, is that Nix is the ex-wife of new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.

Adam Richman

One of Watney’s most well-known segments of recent years was related to her investigations into ballpark food, including her infamous struggle to consume a chicken-and-waffle sandwich. For that reason, Travel Channel celebrity Adam Richman could be an able replacement. Richman hosts Man v. Food and Man v. Food Nation, two shows in which he travels the country competing in eating challenges. Richman has baseball experience, as a 2009 show featured three minor league baseball teams: the Gateway Grizzlies, Charleston RiverDogs and West Michigan Whitecaps. Richman also participated in the Eagles Deli Challenge Burger contest, when he faced off against former employee Chuck Whittall to see who could eat the most of the burger. Kevin Youkilis made a guest appearance in the episode. The biggest problem with Richman? He’s a self-proclaimed Yankees fan.

Holly Sonders

A popular host of Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive”, Sonders is an experienced sportscaster with an athletic history. Sonders was a four-year member of Michigan State University’s golf team and won a Big Ten Championship with the Lady Spartans in 2007.  She started her career in Columbus on “The Average Joe Sports Show” covering high school and collegiate sports before moving up to a sports anchor/reporter position in Little Rock, Ark.

Amber Theoharis

A University of Maryland graduate, Theoharis has experience as a sideline reporter for an area-based news network. She covers the Orioles for MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) and blogs about them on Last season, Theoharis switched over to a desk job in which she focused mostly on interviews and features in order to be able to stay home more to help care for her young daughter Dylan, who was born prematurely last October. Now that Dylan is a year older and doing better, the Orioles have said Theoharis will return to her sideline reporter position. If Theoharis is interested in upgrading to one of the top-tier teams in the AL East, the NESN job could be a perfect fit.

Lauren Thompson

A former model, Thompson currently hosts “Top Ten” and “GolfNow” on the Golf Channel. She does segments similar to Watney’s where she goes behind the top stories to find the entertaining tidbits on the golf tour. Thompson used to be a backstage interviewer for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. She graduated from the University of Central Florida and lives in Orlando.

Read More: Adam Richman, Denis Leary, Heidi Watney, Katie Couric