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Does Merloni Deserve Red Sox Radio Job?

Jason Barrett

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The uproar over NESN’s decision to replace longtime play-by-play voice Don Orsillo with Dave O’Brien on Red Sox telecasts starting next season began as soon as the news of the decision broke Aug. 25.

The fan backlash to the news has only now begun to wane, after the popular Orsillo’s emotional signoff during the Red Sox’ season finale Sunday in Cleveland. Even now, with Orsillo finding a soft landing in San Diego as Dick Enberg’s eventual successor as the Padres play-by-play voice, there are matters that remain unsettled.

Jerry Remy, who spent much of the final inning Sunday in tears while Orsillo called the final outs solo, has not had his status for next season clarified, though he is expected back in some capacity. Rumors of mutual interest between NESN and Mets/TBS broadcaster Ron Darling refuse to fade despite plausible denials from the latter’s side.

Yet lost in the understandable commotion surrounding NESN’s decision to, as Red Sox chairman Tom Werner put it, “re-energize’’ the television broadcast is how the changes will affect the radio broadcast next year.

O’Brien, a voice of greater national accomplishment than Orsillo, will slide over from the radio booth after nine seasons as Joe Castiglione’s partner on flagship station WEEI’s Red Sox broadcasts.

Castiglione is under contract for next season, which will be his 34th year calling Red Sox games. But it remains uncertain who his partner will be.

It is clear, however, who it should be. It’s someone who has spent plenty of time on the Red Sox and WEEI’s rosters: Lou Merloni.

Phil Zachary, Entercom Boston’s vice president and market manager, said via e-mail Thursday that the batch of “well over 100 applicants” has been narrowed to a short list of seven or eight. Zachary said that group includes candidates with a wide range of experience, with some but not all having called MLB games previously. He said the hope is to have a decision finalized by Nov. 1, but such a timeframe may be optimistic.

There’s no doubt that Entercom has a talented collection of applicants from which to choose. There are few more appealing and coveted sports radio jobs than calling Red Sox games, and the list of voices who have called their games reads like a roll call of the best ever in the business — Curt Gowdy, Ken Coleman, Ned Martin, Jon Miller, and Bob Starr among them.

But the hope here is that the search and the parameters of what WEEI and Entercom are looking for does not preclude them from recognizing an excellent fit who is already in their building five days per week.

Merloni, the son of Framingham who spent six of his nine big-league seasons with the Red Sox, has been a midday host on WEEI since February 2011, the constant in a carousel that has included Mike Mutnansky, Tim Benz, and currently Christian Fauria and Glenn Ordway.

Merloni is a capable host, one who, in a welcome development, has become more anecdotal about his playing days through the years. But he’s truly thrived when he’s been part of the broadcast crew — like Remy at his best, he has that same knack for accurately forecasting what is about to happen — and he was downright exceptional in an inspired three-man booth with Castiglione and O’Brien during the 2013 World Series.

Merloni’s contract is up early in 2016, and while he remains the best thing about a midday show that has struggled in the ratings, the timing seems perfect to slide him into a role in which he has already succeeded and yet retains promise for further improvement.

A wide-ranging search is understandable. It’s a coveted gig. But the answer is already in the building. The choice should be a familiar voice. Lou Merloni has been a superb utility player on the broadcasts. It’s time to make him the regular.

To read the full article visit the Boston Globe where this story was originally published

Sports Radio News

Andrew Fillipponi: Peter Burns Made ‘Innocuous Joke’ To Ben Watson

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

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The on-air spat between SEC Network host Peter Burns and analyst Ben Watson continues to be bandied about in sports media circles, with 93.7 The Fan hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller discussing the topic Tuesday.

“I’m on Team Burns,” Fillipponi said.

“Forget who’s team you’re on,” Chris Mueller said. “I think you’ve do have to keep the wives and children out of this.”

“What are you talking about, keep the wives and out of it?!,” Fillipponi asked.

“Do we believe this is work or shoot here?,” Mueller wondered.

“Oh, I think this is real,” Fillpponi added, which Mueller agreed.

“Do you think a close fist from Ben Watson hit Peter Burns?,” Mueller asked.

“No, I think he picked him up by the lapels,” Fillipponi said.

When the subject of Watson’s religion was brought up, Fillipponi then pointed out the absurdity of the situation.

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

“I think he might have a shorter fuse and not taking in humor that Peter Burns was giving out,” Mueller said.

“It was an innocuous joke!,” Fillipponi stated. “It wasn’t a joke! Why is it in bad taste?”

Mueller then added the idea of Watson’s wife texting Burns insinuates there’s an inappropriate relationship.

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Sports Radio News

Craig Carton: Booger McFarland’s Zach Wilson Analysis ‘An Embarrasment’

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Craig Carton

ESPN NFL analyst Booger McFarland raised eyebrows on Monday Night Countdown this week by saying New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has never been held accountable for his actions because he was a “young man who grew up with a lot of money”. WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton called out McFarland’s comments Tuesday as outlandish.

“It was an embarrasment,” Carton said. “Someone should ask Booger McFarland if his kids — who grew up with amazing wealth — have accountability in their lives or if having a little bit of money in your pocket immediately discounts the possibility to have accountability. He’s an idiot and we learned that last night.”

“It’s funny that Steve Young was on the other side of it,” Evan Roberts noted. “Because a long time ago, Steve Young criticized Chris Simms because he’s the son of a famous quarterback.”

“You don’t have to invent reasons for why Zach Wilson isn’t playing well,” added Carton. “Just watch his tape. He’s not playing well. Maybe he’s just not good!”

Carton later said NFL reporters “will try to make a name for themselves by putting out a story” about quarterbacks who take responsibility for their teams failures, while Wilson wouldn’t accept the blame.

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Sports Radio News

Greg Hill: Ben Watson, Peter Burns Drama Was A Bit

“Be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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Peter Burns and Ben Watson shared an awkward exchange during the halftime show of an SEC Network football game over the weekend, and many are still debating whether Watson walking off the set was serious or not. Count part of the cast of The Greg Hill Show on WEEI as doubters.

“That was a a bit,” Courtney Cox said. “That was absolutely a bit.”

“Yeah, unlike the Chris Rock/Will Smith thing, I assume that was a bit,” Hill said. “I can’t believe that Ben Watson is really angry about that.”

“I dunno, man. There’s been a lot of speculation that it isn’t,” Jermaine Wiggins added. “There are people who are very sensitive about you clowning on them or joking with them. Especially with joking about their wife. Some people can’t handle jokes like that.”

After a back-and-forth with Cox about the legitimacy of the joke, Wiggins concluded by saying for some folks family is off limits.

“I’ve learned something in my 47 years on this Earth: be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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