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Friday, August 09, 2019

August 11, 1994: Scenes from a lost MLB season

One day there was baseball.

The next there wasn’t.

This is the story of the day with baseball. The final day of games in 1994 was an odd day, one Major League Baseball had rarely seen before and one it hasn’t seen since. While a damaging strike looked unavoidable, no one still knew for sure if it was the last day of the season and so uncertainty ruled the day.

In many ways, it was a normal day of baseball on the field. Shutouts were thrown and home runs were hit. Teams moved up and down in the standings.

A consideration of the 1994 strike, from the perspective of the last day of games- very much worth a read.

 

QLE Posted: August 09, 2019 at 07:44 AM | 52 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 1994 strike

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 10:13 AM (#5869789)
Great read.
   2. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: August 09, 2019 at 10:27 AM (#5869797)
Really good read. Not a lot of analysis, just oral history but worth it. My brain has a recollection of fans throwing things on the field at one game (I thought it was an Angels game but the Angels didn't play that day as the story notes). Well worth the read though.

Ricky Jordan singled off Mario Gozzo to score Billy Hatcher.


Mauro.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 09, 2019 at 10:30 AM (#5869798)
Goose.
   4. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5869808)
Great read. On a personal level, I had a real bad '94, the Strike included. This brought me right back there.
   5. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 11:06 AM (#5869809)
The Rangers were AL West champions for the first time!

Their record was 52-62.
   6. Gary Truth Serum Posted: August 09, 2019 at 11:35 AM (#5869820)
The only things I really remember from that day was the rainout of the Red Sox game in Baltimore, which seemed appropriate, and the Randy Johnson strikeout of Ernie Young to end the Mariners-A's game. That strikeout seemed to have a "now what?" feel to it.
   7. Rally Posted: August 09, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5869830)
The last Angels game that year was on 8/10, I remember it well as it was a national broadcast, probably ESPN. I remembered Chuck Finley pitching a great game and Bo Jackson playing against the team he had his best moments with. This would be Bo's final MLB game. I had forgotten:

1. Complete game for Finley
2. Walk off win
3. Bo was in the middle of the 9th inning run. Singled to move Salmon up, Salmon scored on Disarcina's hit.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5869838)
I remember the Royals got super hot right before the strike and won 13 in a row to pull within a game of first place. The Kingdome roof had some tiles that fell off so they moved the Royals/Mariners game to KC and some 25k fans walked up to go to the game. The next day, ESPN decided to move Sunday Night Baseball to KC for their game against the Mariners.

And the next week, the strike happened. The '94 Royals were pretty mediocre, so they probably would have fell behind the Indians and White Sox, but we'll never know for sure. The next spring, they traded David Cone and Brian McRae for nothing and went into the wilderness for two decades.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 12:25 PM (#5869841)
The '94 work stoppage potentially cost us:

An Expos post-season

A Michael Jordan September callup

A Derek Jeter trade to the Cubs
   10. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: August 09, 2019 at 01:03 PM (#5869856)
Also,

a potential run at 61 hr

A 4th MVP in 5 years for Barry Bonds (remember, Bagwell had his wrist broken by a pitch right before the strike, and Barry was on fire when the strike hit)

Fred McGriff getting 7 HR that would have gotten him to 500 for his career.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 01:08 PM (#5869858)
Gwynn was also flirting with .400
   12. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5869885)

Also two of the greatest pitching seasons in recent memory. I mean, I'd argue that Maddux in 1994-1995 were still two of the greatest pitching seasons of my lifetime, but without the strike he'd likely have put up 11-12 WAR in both seasons.
   13. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: August 09, 2019 at 04:03 PM (#5869938)
I had plans to go to that Kingdome game where the tiles fell. I was about on my way out the door when I got the news. I wonder how, it's not like I could check the internet...

It was the summer between high school and college for me, and this was sad. But as a Mariners fan, 1995 made up for it!
   14. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: August 09, 2019 at 04:20 PM (#5869951)
Barry was on fire when the strike hit 26 games after asb: .408/.491/898 14 homers in those 26 games.

I'd argue that Maddux in 1994-1995 were still two of the greatest pitching seasons of my lifetime, but without the strike he'd likely have put up 11-12 WAR in both seasons. 8.5 bWAR in 25 games started. Conservative forecast on games started in full season is 34. Extrapolation says 11.6 bWAR. What blows my mind is the dude averaged 8 innings a start in 1994. W..............T....................F
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 09, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5869957)
I happened to be about to start my freshman year of college in August 1994, so I was paying as little attention to baseball as I ever have in my life. Which worked out pretty well, of course.
   16. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: August 09, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5869958)
I remember the Royals got super hot right before the strike and won 13 in a row to pull within a game of first place.

19-9 after break but dead even on runs scored and runs against both at 125.Per bbref win streak was 14 games from July 23rd to August 5th. Were 1 game back after the 5th but fell to 4 back when season ended. Best position player by WAR was Bob Hamelin(??) at 2.6 but best players overall were David Code (6.9) and Kevin Appier (4.5). Royals gave almost 500 plate appearances to a Vince Coleman with a OPS+ of 59(!!) OBP of .285 and 2 homers. And he was also bad defensively so this guy was on the field why??
   17. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: August 09, 2019 at 04:31 PM (#5869961)
Really do want to credit the memories here so don't take my fact checking of trying to be a jerk. I do a lot of analytical work and typically anecdotal stuff is worth #### but this crew not just in this chat but overall on the site does a really good job of remembering stuff from the past. Meanwhile I have Chief Procurement or Supply Chain officers who can't remember basic contract terms from something negotiated last week. JFC. So kudos here. Seriously.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2019 at 06:01 PM (#5869988)
What blows my mind is the dude averaged 8 innings a start in 1994.

That was usually only about 100 pitches. Seriously. He averaged 13 pitches per inning that year. He got it down to 12 in 1995. (If b-r's pitch count data is accurate.)
   19. Colin Posted: August 09, 2019 at 06:25 PM (#5869991)
Maddux pitched into the seventh inning of every start he made that year. Had only three starts where he didn't complete seven innings, and only one where he didn't record an out in the seventh (but still pitched to a few batters before being pulled). Completed five of his final seven starts, pitched 8 innings the other two. His ERA peaked at 1.88.

The only knock on his season is that he had nine unearned runs, all at home. So it's likely his low ERA was benefiting from some hometown scoring favors.
   20. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 09, 2019 at 08:24 PM (#5870023)
I was at the last game in Fenway before the Sox went on the road to end the season. It was a doubleheader that began at noon and didn't end until after 8:30, with a 12 inning loss to the Indians that was a fitting end to a losing season. It seemed like everyone knew that this was it for a long while, and I can't even remember whether we stuck it out until the end.
   21. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 09:07 PM (#5870040)
I too was getting ready to head to college freshman year but did work that last homestand. I remember selling snickers ice cream and dove bars. Some fan razzed Lee Smith's snail crawl to the mound from the bullpen. "Come on Lee, let's go, you're not on strike yet."

I think Mussina pitched 8 and got the win. Brewers had that horrible new blue and green BM/MB logo. I have no recollection where the Brewers finished on the road. They were out of it and I was moving.
   22. AndrewJ Posted: August 09, 2019 at 09:10 PM (#5870042)
I was at the Mets/Phillies game. Ken Burns and some Negro Leaguers were in attendance (the PBS "Baseball" series would debut in a month) and Fernando Valenzuela, the MLB sensation of the previous strike season, was the Phils' starting pitcher. The game lasted 15 innings (in just 3:52) and after the Phils walked off with the win the PA system blared The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out"...
   23. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: August 09, 2019 at 10:29 PM (#5870061)
[5] And 1994 was the first year of the new divisional format. Had it produced a sub-.500 playoff team right off the bat, they may have changed it. So the strike may have saved the 3 division per league format.
   24. Lassus Posted: August 09, 2019 at 11:06 PM (#5870076)
This was during my post-college baseball black hole. Someone mentioned the strike to me in 1996 and I had no idea it had even happened.
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: August 09, 2019 at 11:19 PM (#5870082)
yeah, I was kinda busy with work in mid-1994 - so not very traumatic.

but I love the various life scenarios here.
   26. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: August 09, 2019 at 11:37 PM (#5870087)
In 1994 I was old enough to know what baseball was, but wasn’t watching it yet.
   27. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2019 at 11:38 PM (#5870088)

[5] And 1994 was the first year of the new divisional format. Had it produced a sub-.500 playoff team right off the bat, they may have changed it. So the strike may have saved the 3 division per league format.


It might have produced two! The entire NL West was underwater much of the season. The Dodgers won 5 of 7 before the stoppage to peek over .500 and finish 58-56. They didn't have unbalanced scheduling back then.

I was a HS junior during the strike. I remember we had an assignment to write a letter to President Clinton on behalf of a cause, so I asked him to intervene in the baseball work stoppage.
   28. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: August 10, 2019 at 12:50 AM (#5870094)
1994 was when I graduated from college, where I had been sports editor of the school paper. My first real-world newspaper job, which was laying out the agate page, I started on Aug. 10, IIRC. So I had two nights of MLB agate before the curtain fell.
   29. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: August 10, 2019 at 12:51 AM (#5870095)
I was a HS junior during the strike. I remember we had an assignment to write a letter to President Clinton on behalf of a cause, so I asked him to intervene in the baseball work stoppage.
And Bill did! It went poorly, but he did!
   30. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: August 10, 2019 at 05:25 AM (#5870099)
I took a job in a warehouse, and they told me that I could have a day shift or an evening shift in 1994. I chose the evening because I could listen to the Yankees on my little radio.

Two days later, BAM! Sterling and Kay did a series of call-in shows to fill the time, but it sucked.
   31. Perry Posted: August 10, 2019 at 02:17 PM (#5870173)
Was really busy with other life stuff (including 2 little kids), plus I was living in Utah where there wasn't much baseball on TV or radio anyway, so I barely remember it. 1981, on the other hand, was pretty traumatic; I was 26 and had a bad breakup with a girlfriend right about the time it started, so I was really glum that summer.
   32. Adam Starblind Posted: August 10, 2019 at 06:21 PM (#5870214)
To his credit, McFarland didn’t flinch. The reporter’s mistake, Bonilla believed, was to keep asking how much money Bonilla would lose over the course of the strike. As the owner of a five-year, $29 million contract, the math worked out to $31,146 per day — though it’s unclear how his famous deferred payments affected that total.


Wrong Bonilla contract.
   33. Mefisto Posted: August 10, 2019 at 07:04 PM (#5870217)
I remember that Matt Williams was on pace to break Maris' HR record.

I also remember that I was so angry at the owners that I stopped watching baseball for 4 years.
   34. Adam Starblind Posted: August 10, 2019 at 08:50 PM (#5870233)

I also remember that I was so angry at the owners that I stopped watching baseball for 4 years.


For me it coincided with going to college and the Mets sucking anyway, so that was that for me until the '99 playoffs.
   35. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: August 10, 2019 at 09:05 PM (#5870236)
I swore off baseball, came back about five years later. I remember wondering who this Alex Rodriguez guy is.
   36. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 12, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5870586)
I was a rising HS senior in '94 and spent the second half of the summer in Japan. I had no computer access so following MLB was strictly through the western newspapers, which I would manage to grab a couple of times a week. I remember being crushed after finding out about the strike, maybe several days after it happened. Even with the Reds back in the playoffs next year, I didn't really pay attention to baseball again until the summer of McGwire-Sosa.
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 12, 2019 at 01:24 PM (#5870596)
I swore off baseball, came back about five years later. I remember wondering who this Alex Rodriguez guy is.
That must have been disconcerting if he was the first player you saw when you came back. Did you wonder if baseball had merged with polo or something?
   38. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 12, 2019 at 01:29 PM (#5870598)

Best position player by WAR was Bob Hamelin(??) at 2.6

That's AL Rookie of the Year Hammerin' Bob Hamelin. He was a bit of a phenomenon that year, hitting a bunch of home runs before people realized we were in the new sillyball era.

Royals gave almost 500 plate appearances to a Vince Coleman with a OPS+ of 59(!!) OBP of .285 and 2 homers. And he was also bad defensively so this guy was on the field why??

Well, up to that season Coleman had been an average-ish player for his career, and back when he was putting up crazy SB numbers and people didn't appropriately value OBP he was overrated. (He made two All Star teams despite being below average both seasons. To be fair, his 1985-87 was probably one of the best stretches of baserunning in history. The guy just wasn't a very good hitter.
   39. Rally Posted: August 12, 2019 at 02:17 PM (#5870623)
Vince actually had a similar awful year hitting in 1986, with an OPS+ of 62. Especially horrible since he was a corner outfielder. But in 1986 he was actually above replacement level (1.3 WAR) thanks to earning 17 runs with baserunning. Not easy to do, but stealing 107 bases in 121 tries will get you there. After he left the Cardinals he was still fast, but an ordinary fast guy instead of a legendary base runner.
   40. JAHV Posted: August 12, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5870628)
I was in 7th grade and was a huge Angels fan, but there wasn't much to root for, other than Tim Salmon, Chuck Finley, and Mark Langston. Gary DiSarcina was a personal favorite, but he wasn't very good. For whatever reason, even Bo Jackson being on the team didn't register all that much for me, probably because he struck out a ton (for the era) and I hated watching batters strike out (which explains both my love for DiSarcina and my disdain for current trends). I remember being more bummed about losing out on watching Maddux and Gwynn chase all time great seasons.

I had also recently just gotten into hockey since Anaheim got the Mighty Ducks, but of course the NHL had a lockout for the first three months of the season, too. I just played a lot of video games and youth sports.
   41. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: August 12, 2019 at 02:49 PM (#5870636)
I also remember that I was so angry at the owners that I stopped watching baseball for 4 years.


I quit playing organized baseball, and got an after-school job. I didn't stay away long, though. I remember in '96, fall semester of freshman year of college, my chemistry teacher was talking about Avogadro's number or something, and quipped, "even the Braves don't score that many runs".
   42. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: August 12, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5870639)
38--Thanks. I checked out Coleman. Weird kind of player. Billy Hamilton but without defense so he doesn't play in the majors these days I don't think
   43. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 12, 2019 at 03:08 PM (#5870642)
I didn't leave at any time over the strike, but I find myself less interested in the contemporary game now than ever before. I think it's a combination of gambling ads + ads between batters + ADD-fueled pitching changes + disappearance of compelling starting pitcher performances.

My worst memory of the 1994 strike is being a lifelong Red Sox fan who happened to be in Boston in August 1994, having a ticket to my first ever game at Fenway from a series against the Rangers starting 8/22, and having the game struck out. Still have the ticket. Still haven't seen a game in Fenway Pahk either.
   44. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 12, 2019 at 03:54 PM (#5870663)
38--Thanks. I checked out Coleman. Weird kind of player. Billy Hamilton but without defense so he doesn't play in the majors these days I don't think

Similar to Hamilton, yes. In his first full minor league season, Coleman stole 145 bases in 113 games while batting .350, which brings to mind Hamilton's season where he stole 155 bases in 132 games while batting .311.

But Coleman was a better hitter (83 career OPS vs. 68 for Hamilton), and he actually got on base a little (.324 OBP vs. .296 for Hamilton). That, combined with the fact that Coleman played at a time and for a manager who really valued the SB (even without Coleman, those mid-1980s Cards stole more bases than any team in MLB today), meant he was able to steal a lot more than Hamilton does.

I think a guy like that would still get a fair number of chances in MLB today, although he might not have played every day or stolen as many bases. Maybe more of an Eric Young, Jr. kind of career. If Young can play for 10 years (wait, what?? I feel really old now) then the league still has room for guys like Coleman.
   45. Howie Menckel Posted: August 12, 2019 at 04:26 PM (#5870666)
a good trivia question:

"Billy Hamilton last led the NL in stolen bases in what year?"

the answer is...... 1895.

that's Sliding Billy, the HOFer.

the modern one came in 2nd in 2014.
and 2015.
and 2016.
and 2017.
and 2018.

he's 6th in the AL this year.
   46. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: August 13, 2019 at 09:41 AM (#5870886)
Coleman had a great nickname ("Vincent Van Go").

Today's Billy Hamilton has managed to earn 8.6 bWAR, which is higher than I would have guessed.
   47. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 13, 2019 at 01:16 PM (#5870985)
If you're a CF who can put up +20 runs a year in baserunning and fielding, it's hard not to have a positive WAR. That was Hamilton through 2017, and if we're being fair, this year on a rate basis. But his hitting has fallen off a cliff, which I didn't think was possible after the last two seasons.

It always surprised me that Hamilton didn't have a better BABIP for a switch hitter with his speed. But defenses played in and he wasn't strong enough to punch it past them.
   48. . Posted: August 13, 2019 at 03:49 PM (#5871046)
That was usually only about 100 pitches. Seriously. He averaged 13 pitches per inning that year. He got it down to 12 in 1995.


Easily believable, as hitters didn't start taking pitches just for the sake thereof until a few years after 1994. It's probably not an exaggeration to say that "take for taking's sake" was the founding strategic moment of the slouch toward oafball.

We see less and less of the brand name pitchers today because offenses decided to stand with the bat on their shoulder to wear the brand name guys out earlier. Needless to say, it would be great if there was some way that decision could be reversed and we could be back to '94.
   49. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 13, 2019 at 06:20 PM (#5871107)
Coleman's tenure with the Mets was also pretty noteworthy as part of an all-around dark period for the franchise. I'm a Mets fan but even I had forgotten about a few of these:

Coleman was one of three Met players named in a complaint filed by a 31-year-old woman in Florida, although prosecutors did not pursue charges in the case. His base-stealing strategy became increasingly suspect; he often ignored or misinterpreted his coaches' signs on the basepaths....He got into an argument with coach Mike Cubbage at the end of his first season with the Mets, which was a factor in manager Bud Harrelson's ouster. In September 1992, he got into a fight with Harrelson's successor, Jeff Torborg, and was suspended without pay for the rest of the season....In April 1993, Coleman injured Dwight Gooden's arm by recklessly swinging a golf club in the clubhouse.[citation needed] Three months later, Coleman was charged with endangerment when he threw a lit firecracker into a crowd of baseball fans waiting for autographs in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The explosion injured three children, including a two-year-old, Amanda Santos. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for the incident while the Mets suspended him with pay.


I remembered the firecracker but not the other stuff.

He also famously got caught in the tarp and injured his leg while playing for St. Louis.
   50. QLE Posted: August 13, 2019 at 10:54 PM (#5871174)
He also famously got caught in the tarp and injured his leg while playing for St. Louis.


It led to him missing the 1985 World Series, possibly playing a role in the Cardinals losing that series.
   51. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2019 at 11:42 PM (#5871187)
Yea, the Mets were desperately looking to move him, so he was traded to the Royals in a "crap contract for crap contract" deal with Kevin McReynolds returning to NY.
   52. Howie Menckel Posted: August 14, 2019 at 12:58 AM (#5871198)
It led to him missing the 1985 World Series, possibly playing a role in the Cardinals losing that series.

first time ever on BBTF that I have ever heard of anyone else playing a role in the Cardinals losing that series.

it makes 10000X more sense than the preposterous scapegoat, but still

:)

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