Red Sox

Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

As the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLS prepare to resume play in the near future, Major League Baseball still can't get out of its own way.

MLB reportedly rejected the Players Association's proposal Wednesday for a 114-game season in 2020 and apparently doesn't plan to make a counter-offer.

The league and the players have refused to budge on the issues dividing them: Players don't want to take an additional pay cut after agreeing to prorated salaries in March, while the owners are wary of extending the season too long due to the coronavirus pandemic and want players to agree to further reduced salaries to mitigate lost revenue.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

That stalemate has cost MLB valuable time, however, as the league doesn't appear close to beginning its 2020 regular season as the calendar turns to June.

So, who's to blame here? Lou Merloni believes it's everyone involved.

The former Boston Red Sox infielder ripped into both the league and the union Wednesday night during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston.

"Both sides suck, OK? That's the bottom line," Merloni said. "The Players Association comes back and says, 'Not 82 (games), we want 114' when they know that's the non-starter. The owners don't want to sit there and play until November. They're worried about the pandemic; they've got to get the playoffs in. And then the owners come back and say we're not even going to counter?

"Jesus, we're like a month into this thing. Can you string this thing out (any longer)? How about go in one room together and try to figure this out in a day or two?"

Compounding MLB's issue is that the NBA is expected to announce a return-to-play plan Thursday that would resume the 2019-20 season in late July. The MLS and NHL also have made headwinds toward resuming their seasons this summer -- which means baseball is wasting a much-needed opportunity to showcase itself as the only active pro sports league.

"I mean, you're running out of time and you're only screwing yourself. Even if baseball does come back, people have already said, 'I've had enough of you.' It's been like a month, a year, and you guys talk and bitch about this thing publicly. I don't give a crap anymore. I've got hockey, basketball, football is around the corner, hell, soccer is around the corner. I'm good.

"They don't even realize it! It's like they're in this bubble and they don't even realize what's going on around them right now. Figure this thing out: 70 games, 65, prorated (salaries), start playing some baseball, because your ass better be first coming back. If not, people are going to be done."

There's reportedly some optimism that the players and the union will resolve their differences and put a return plan in place. But with nearly one-third of the season already lost, the clock is ticking.

Check out Merloni's full comments in the video player above.

How Mitch Moreland stayed in baseball shape with the help of his 'party barn'

How Mitch Moreland stayed in baseball shape with the help of his 'party barn'

Mitch Moreland found one way to stay in baseball shape during the pandemic — install batting cages in his party barn.

Moreland bought land in Alabama this offseason, razed a couple of existing structures, and prepared to build a new home. So his family would have a spot to watch construction, they first built a fully furnished barn, which they assumed they could use to host friends and which Moreland described as a "party barn."

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

But when the pandemic struck, he found a practical use for the space, installing a full batting cage and pitching machine.

"It just happened to come at just the right time," Moreland said. "Obviously, it's an unfortunate time with everybody having to go back home and kind of stay isolated as much as possible, but having the barn there, being able to get the cage up in it, like I said, it just came about at the right time really."

Moreland's Instagram account includes multiple shots of the barn-as-batting-cage, including one of his son losing a tooth by tying a string to baseball and letting it fly.

"It worked out great," Moreland said. "It was a blast being able to kind of be there and watch the finishing touches. Me and a couple of the guys put the cage up ourselves in like three hours, so I was fired up about it. Something I've always wanted. I think my boys are getting just as much use out of it as I am. It's fun to have and it just kind of worked out well during this time to have it."

The 34-year-old Moreland returned to the Red Sox on a one-year, $3 million deal with a team option for 2021. After spending the first seven years of his career in Texas, he has now made a home in Boston, where he is entering his fourth season.

But it's the new home he's building, with personal batting cage/party barn, that caught the attention of his teammates.

"Actually guys have talked about it here," he said. "They've already brought it up and they said they're all coming to stay with me. I was like, I'll wait until all this stuff is cleared up and then you all can come up anytime you want."

J.D. Martinez is unsurprisingly a big fan of MLB's universal DH rule

J.D. Martinez is unsurprisingly a big fan of MLB's universal DH rule

There will be a universal DH in baseball for the first time in 2020. J.D. Martinez can only hope it's not the last.

The Red Sox slugger would benefit more than any other player in baseball by the full-time adoption of the position in the National League, and he makes no secret of his wish to see it happen. Because the players and owners could not agree on a proposal to play the 2020 season, the universal DH will only be used this year out of safety concerns, before reverting back to an AL-only position in 2021.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

"You're kind of asking a biased person here," Martinez said. "I'm all for it. I'm a DH. I think you could speak to a lot of pitchers who are for it, too. A lot of pitchers like it and a lot of pitchers in the AL like it because they feel the pitchers in the NL have an advantage. It's one less hitter they have to face and one less elite hitter they have to face, really, because of it."

Martinez can opt out of his contract after this season, which is an iffy proposition in the midst of a pandemic. But the only way it happens is if the NL market suddenly opens up, creating 15 potential new landing spots for the best DH in the game.

Martinez will otherwise make $19.75 million in each of the next two seasons as part of a five-year, $110 million contract. When he addressed the DH issue via a Zoom call on Sunday, he focused on the competitive implications.

"I like it to even the playing field across the board," he said. "I understand the history of it and stuff like that, so I see the other side of it, too, but I'm in favor of it. I think it keeps everybody safe. It keeps our pitchers safe, it keeps the game fun, it's more offense, which is what fans like to see. And I think you don't have the whole, 'Oh he had 2.00 ERA in the NL so in the AL that's really going to be a 3.00.' Now it makes it easy and makes it even across the board for everybody."