Lou Merloni

Why Ex-Red Sox infielder is firmly against MLB using replacement players

Why Ex-Red Sox infielder is firmly against MLB using replacement players

Major League Baseball and its players seem to be at an impasse. So, what if MLB just begins its season with replacement players?

That's one potential option as MLB and the MLB Players Association continue to bicker over player salaries and how many games they'll play in a 2020 season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

It's an option the league briefly used in the spring of 1995, as MLB tabbed minor leaguers and retired veterans to play spring training games after the players went on strike.

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Former Boston Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni was one of those minor-league replacement players in 1995, though -- and firmly believes no player should have to endure that same experience.

"I don't want any part of that. I don't want those kids to go through what I went through in 1995," Merloni said Tuesday night on NBC Sports Boston's "Boston Sports Tonight."

A 10th-round pick of the Red Sox living off a $5,000 signing bonus, Merloni was given an ultimatum: cross the picket line to play in spring training games as a replacement player or lose his job.

"They basically said, 'We want you to play tomorrow in these games,' " Merloni recalled. "And I said, 'I'm not playing.' And they said, 'You have 24 hours to decide, and if you say no, your career is over.' So, after talking to family and friends -- hell, I've got family high up in North American labor unions -- and we talked all night long to some of these people and said, 'What am I going to do here?'

"Well, I decided to play. I didn't want to get released. I didn't want to end my career. I played in one spring training game, I faked an injury, I got out of it, I didn't receive any kind of money at all. And next thing you know, baseball is back and now all of a sudden I'm on a list like everybody else."

Merloni went on to enjoy a nine-year MLB career but was permanently banned from the MLBPA along with other replacement players. Suffice it to say, he doesn't want any current minor leaguer to meet the same fate.

"It wasn't fair what they did to me, what they did to a lot of other kids in that system," Merloni said. "I'd hate to see baseball put them in that spot again, because it's a no-win spot for anybody."

That means it will be up to MLB and the players to hash out their differences and put a plan in place to save the 2020 season. Check out Merloni's full comments in the video player above.

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.

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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.

MLB players not accepting Rob Manfred's apology after calling World Series trophy 'piece of metal'

MLB players not accepting Rob Manfred's apology after calling World Series trophy 'piece of metal'

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred tried more damage control on Tuesday.

After referring to the World Series trophy as a "piece of metal," Manfred apologized for the disrespectful comment after receiving plenty of backlash for his choice of words.

“I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way, and I want to apologize for it,” Manfred said at a press conference at spring training in Arizona. “There’s no excuse for it...It was a mistake to say what I said.”

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Several MLB players already are upset with Manfred's handling of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal and many past and present Astros opponents have criticized the commissioner's penalties against Houston as far too lenient.

Manfred reference to one of baseball's most prized possessions - known officially as The Commissioner's Trophy - as a "piece of metal" only added more fuel to the fire, with current Chicago Cubs and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, in particular, infuriated by the commissioner's words.

“That’s somebody that has never played our game. You play for a reason, you play for that piece of metal. I’m very proud of the three that I have,” Lester said, according to Associated Press. “If that’s the way he feels, then he needs to take his name off the trophy.”

Former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni also had some choice words for the commissioner.

"Well, I'll say this. I had some time to think about it and no, I don't accept his apology because I think it's ridiculous," Merloni said Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight. "The trophy is called the Commissioner's Trophy. He is the commissioner of Major League Baseball and to utter the words it's a 'piece of metal,' to me, is a slap in the face for people who played this game forever, well before he was the commissioner of this league. There are people for whom winning a World Series championship changes their lives. There are people that lose a World Series changes their lives.

"The closest I got was an ALCS. I never got to play in one. I never had an opportunity to win one. There's a lot of guys who have won many, and we praise them for it... they're in the Hall of Fame for it. To sit there and to basically minimize what the World Series trophy is, what this represents, to me, is inexcusable. So, you can apologize all you want, but he never should've uttered those words in the first place. I think it's a disgrace."