Former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni speaks on dispute
I think it’s safe to say that most if not all baseball fans are pretty annoyed by the current dispute between the MLB and MLBPA, Red Sox Nation very much included. What originally began as a back and forth on how to safely get the season going has grown to encompass everything under the sun. Instead of being solely about the plan to start the 2020 season, it’s devolved into a full-on CBA negotiation, at least that’s what it feels like.
Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy and current manager Ron Roenicke have spoken recently about their optimism for 2020. But with each positive thought towards this season, there are at least two that put a damper on a possible campaign. Former Red Sox infielder and current WEEI host and analyst Lou Merloni has been vocal from the get-go.
Not only has he shared his thoughts on his own show, WEEI’s “OMF,” but he’s also appeared on Barstool Sports’ “Section-10 Podcast,” and now he’s taken to the written word. At his heart, Merloni will always be a player and when he speaks you can tell it’s from that realm of thinking. But deep down he’s still a fan who loves this game and hates what happening to it right now.
Earlier this week, he wrote a letter to both the owners and the players via WEEI.com and didn’t hold back any punches. His message was loud and clear and anyone that reads it should pick up on it with ease.
"“FIGURE IT OUT!!!”“I have constantly defended you through it all, but I have to say, I can’t anymore. Not until you realize the damage that you are doing to this great game and get back on the field,” Merloni wrote."
His sentiments are spot on as this feud between the MLB and MLBPA has done nothing but alienate the fans of baseball. Both sides have tried to play the PR card to lobby fans to their side but in the end, everyone looks like the villain. When all is said and done, it’s the fans that will decide it’s not worth it and won’t return.
Red Sox 2B Merloni pleads to think about the fans
That may sound like a dramatic hot take but take a look at the crowd of a baseball game. You’ll see some young kids with their families, some younger adults who may be on a date night, but predominately it’s an older crowd. Those that have followed their favorite teams for decades and even generations.
Baseball is having a miserable time not just retaining fans but growing their fan base with a younger audience, especially with the NBA and NFL crushing them in the marketing department.
The last time I can honestly say that the MLB truly marketed any players well would probably have to be the home-run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Maybe Barry Bonds when he was on his race to break the record. But when compared to the other major sports leagues, the MLB pails in comparison to their marketing of the stars they have.
"“I’m not sure if you realize it or not, but your fans are on the edge. They aren’t happy. Trust me I hear it every day. If for a second either of you thinks that you are better off not playing at all this year, think again,” Merloni said. “I’ll always be here waiting for the next game but I can’t speak for everyone.”"
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
How the hell don’t we see guys like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, or Aaron Judge in more marketing campaigns? Beyond their local markets, non-baseball fans probably have no idea who they are. This is something that Lou eludes to later in his letter when he pleads to both sides to focus on the fans.
This is already a black eye for the sport of baseball and if a deal isn’t reached and 2020 is canceled, then the MLB is going to be in trouble. Increasing ticket prices, expensive concessions, and a serious lack of marketing is already hobbling the league, this would fully take it out at the knee. Now, I don’t believe the MLB would cease to exist, but it sure as hell would take a massive hit in the fan department.
As for the Red Sox, they need all of the positive PR they can get after this past offseason. They’ve spoken about their positivity with a resolution but getting in front of it couldn’t hurt. Exactly what that entails I have no idea, but that’s why they have a PR department. They can start by addressing the ticket needs of the fans who’ve already paid to see games but won’t be able to attend. The bottom line is that something needs to happen. In Lou’s own words, “FIGURE IT OUT!”