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.
"It wasn't fair what they did to me, what they did to a lot of other kids. I'd hate to see Baseball put them in that spot again."@LouMerloni explains why MLB using replacement players would be a no-win situation for anyone. pic.twitter.com/teC5XCgNlL— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) June 10, 2020
"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.