The Strike


"Solidarity Forever, the Union will prevail"

“Solidarity Forever, the Union will prevail”

Yesterday marked the 20th Anniversary of the 1994 Strike that crippled baseball. Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter:
1. The Montreal Expos were in first place. Let me try that again. The Montreal Expos were in first place. In their entire time in Montreal, the Expos were in first place at the end of a season exactly twice: the 1981 split season strike year and 1994. Talk about bad timing.

2. The Texas Rangers were in first place. They had a losing record. It’s a measure of how weak the AL West was in ’94 that a team with a losing record was in first.

3. We missed a chance to see Tony Gwynn and Matt Williams do something extraordinary. Gwynn was close to hitting .400 and being Gwynn he might have pulled it off. Williams had a legitimate shot at 62 home runs. He didn’t get close ever again.

4. We lost a World Series for the first time since John McGraw refused to play in 1904 (90 years earlier). The revenue, the emotion, the interest that a Series, especially a good one, produces were all lost. Had Montreal won then Canada would have won three in a row (they’ve won none since).

5. It was hard to root for either side. The idea of a guy making $10,000 an inning versus a billionaire over the issue of money made it difficult to favor either side. I know there was more than money involved, but ultimately most people fixated on the cash. Around here most people also favored the owners. Maybe it’s just a Red State issue, but most of the people I know would have given up their first-born to be Moonlight Graham, so it was hard to have sympathy for someone willingly giving up playing ball for something other than age or injury.

6. Neither Bud Selig nor Don Fehr came off looking good. Selig was new and still acting commissioner (he got the job in 1992) and looked lost and when he occasionally looked found he seemed absolutely pro-owners and couldn’t be considered nonpartisan at all. Fehr appeared to care only about the cash, not the fans. In both cases they were doing their job but neither seemed at all concerned about the game itself. Neither man had their finest hour. Fehr ultimately hurt the union more than Selig hurt the owners when Fehr refused to support drug testing before Congress and Selig did support it (again both were doing their job, but for Fehr it turned into a PR nightmare).

7. Cal Ripken couldn’t save things alone, so the “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” attitude of both owners and players over steroids was allowed to take full flight. Things got temporarily better because “chicks dig the long ball”, but ultimately baseball took another hit.

8. But they apparently learned. There hasn’t been a work stoppage since. I think we should celebrate that, but I also think we ought to keep a wary eye cast toward both parties.

Some of my thoughts on the strike. There are others. I’m sure you have your own. Feel free to express them.


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9 Responses to “The Strike”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Interesting you should bring this topic up. I just read yesterday that the owners will be meeting soon (today?) to vote on a new Commissioner to replace Bud Selig, who I guess retires at the end of this season.
    Apparently, there are two factions. One faction supports the de facto heir apparent of Selig, Rob Manfred, while the other faction supports a rival candidate. The Selig-favored candidate apparently wants to continue the peace between Labor and Management, and is willing to negotiate in good faith with the Player’s Union (as Selig, to his credit, has done for quite a while now.)
    But the Werner faction, led by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, believes that the owners have been giving too much away to the Players Union over the years, and wants a Commissioner who will take a more anti-Labor stance. If the Reinsdorf faction gets their man, the two decades of peace and prosperity enjoyed by baseball fans for two decades will surely be in peril.
    Let’s hope the Reinsdorf faction is marginalized at the meeting.
    Fine post,

  2. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    I felt that a lot was fishy in the contest between McGuire and Sosa to break Maris’ record. McGuire “broke” Maris’ record. Yeah, right. We all know better now. But I thought that something was fishy even then, and so did a New York columnist. He wrote more than once that something fishy was going on, and he hinted at what it might be. (I think he was writing in the New York Post, but it might have been the New York Daily News.) Well, that columnist had it right. The steroids “saved” baseball. Too bad they weren’t exposed back then. Then, baseball could have been saved on its own merits, rather than on false and dubious merits.


  3. eric Says:

    The biggest losers in the strike were the Montreal Expos’ fans and the city of Miami. The lack of postseason revenues and the championship hangover effect on attendance would surely have made an impact on their finances and on the whole English-language broadcast debacle up there. And probably on their stadium issue too. Instead we got the horror of Jeffrey Loria, the silly contraction gambit, and the weasley and stench-ridden franchise switcheroo that led Loria to become the Marlins’ principal owner. South Florida will be feeling the financial burden of Loria’s double-dealing for decades all the while he leaches off the taxpayers and a revenue-sharing scheme that rewards uncompetitive teams.

    Not that I have a strong opinion about any of this….

  4. Bruce Thiesen Says:

    Nice blog post. It was pathetic on all counts. I lost interest in the game and watched in only the most casual way for a while thereafter.

    Bud Selig is so awful and he can not leave too soon for me. I worry that the next era will be even worse however. There seems to be little chance of putting the genie back in the bottle.

    There is so much about the MLB that annoys me to no end. Nonetheless, the game still keeps my attention. Too much of it, in fact. I watch the box scores all day and whenever I am at home, the games are on the TV. This season has been great and the pennant races, as silly and “NBA-like” as they are, will be fun to watch.

  5. steve Says:

    I’m with you. Let’s celebrate.

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