365体育官网Sports talk radio gives listeners a moment of relief.
Lou Merloni’s professional resume resembles his reputation as a multi-dimensional baseball player who could fill in at any number of spots on the diamond.
Besides being a baseball analyst on television as well as the co-host of a weekday sports talk show on WEEI, the 48-year-old Marshfield resident can now add part-time psychiatrist to his growing list of skills.
“We are in some challenging and scary times right now and I hope we can give our listeners a little release from what’s going on in the world,” Merloni said as everyone comes to grips with the growing coronavirus pandemic. “Hopefully we can give people a couple of hours of solid entertainment during the day.”
Merloni, Glenn Ordway and Christian Fauria get together each weekday from 2-6 p.m. on ’EEI to go over the day’s top sports stories. But with the edicts to emphasize social distancing as we try to go about our daily lives with the COVID-19 outbreak happening, they are no longer in the same studio for the time being. Ordway and Fauria are broadcasting from their home studios while Merloni makes the trip from Marshfield to the Brighton studio each weekday.
365体育官网“It’s a little different, but right now it’s something that’s necessary,” Merloni said about separating the trio. “We all have iPads to see each other during the show, so technology helps us pull it all together each day.”
Ordway, Merloni and Fauria have been together for a few years now and each of them continues to refine their roles with the show.
365体育官网“I think we’ve all learned to be thick-skinned and we can all give each other crap when we need to. It’s all part of the entertainment of the show,” Merloni explained. “It would be boring radio if we all agreed on every subject, every day. I don’t think people would want to listen to that.”
Merloni was a player during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was working in radio when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred in 2013, both times when sports took a backseat to the real world for a moment. But, he said, this time feels different.
“The big difference with the Boston Marathon bombings was people were just angry. They were much angrier than we are right now. They were mad that someone came into their city and committed such a horrible act,” Merloni said. “I think right now it’s more a fear of the unknown that everyone is feeling. It’s a scary time for all of us.”
Merloni, a native of Framingham, spent 15 years playing professional baseball including two stints each with Cleveland and Boston. He also played with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels organizations and spent a portion of one season in the Japanese League.
A solid infielder who played second and third base as well as shortstop, Merloni was a career .271 hitter in 423 major league games and saw his most action in 2002 when he batted .247 in 84 games with Boston. He spent part of his time with the Red Sox traveling between AAA affiliate Pawtucket and Boston.
“It did get frustrating at times, but I know it made me stronger as a person,” Merloni said about the trips back to the minor leagues. “The thing I was proud of is when I was sent down I always came back and I never had an attitude about it. I always went down to the minors with the attitude that I was going to work hard and earn my way back.”
Merloni called it a career in 2007 after playing 110 games with Sacramento, the AAA affiliate of the Oakland A’s. He went out a winner as the River Cats captured the Pacific Coast League title at the end of a season that Merloni knew would be his last.
“I was planning for what my next step would be that final year,” Merloni said. “I thought about getting into coaching, but I knew what kind of life that was and I didn’t think it was for me. Coaches put in so many hours, both in-season and off-season, and that’s what makes it such a tough commitment. I got married the fall after I retired and wanted to start a family.”
365体育官网So after a career of dealing with the media, Merloni switched sides and became one of them.
“I never thought about becoming a part of the media as a player, but when I retired that door was opened for me. Glenn (Ordway) had me on his show a few times and I started doing a little television work with NESN (covering the Red Sox) and it blossomed from there,” Merloni said.
365体育官网Despite his connections with the Red Sox, Merloni has been known to be critical of the team at times.
“It can be difficult going into the locker room after I’ve said something on the air about the team, but as long as I am fair with my criticism I can take it,” Merloni said. “I just try to communicate the things that I see and that I hear. That’s part of my job.”
365体育官网Growing up as a fan of all Boston sports, Merloni said he shares the passion of the common sports fan. He believes the thing that separates Boston from the other places he’s traveled is the number of fans following the team.
365体育官网“There are passionate fans everywhere, but the sheer number of them is what makes Boston a special place to be a sports fan,” Merloni explained. “In some places I played there were two or three newspapers or media members that covered the team regularly but that’s not the way it is in Boston. There’s a lot more media members around the team each day.”
365体育官网Many of those media members have also been following the final divorce between Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The end officially came Friday when Brady signed a two-year, $50 million dollar deal to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I always thought he was going to leave, but even now it’s official, it still doesn’t feel real that he’s moving on,” Merloni said. “After 20 years it’s over just like that. That’s going to take a while to sink in, but I’m excited to see what’s next.”
365体育官网Email the reporter at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter, @David Wolcott1.