Remembering 1994, a Baseball Season That Could Have Been Special

in #sports2 years ago

Expos.jpg

Balls were jumping out of stadiums that year and a few hitters were on a torrid home run pace. One player was making a serious bid to hit .400 for the season, a cherished but elusive batting average. The San Francisco Giants brought in a player with the first name Erik who hit well below the Mendoza Line. And relations were becoming frosty between league ownership and the player’s union, a discord which threatened to disrupt future play.

But before you raise your hand and identify that year as 2019, let me add one additional fact: the Montreal Expos finished that season with Major League Baseball’s best record. Oops; the mystery season cannot be 2019, since Les Expos de Montreal have not existed since that franchise moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Nationals after the 2004 season. And the Giants player was Erik Johnson (.154 batting average for the season), not Erik Kratz (.125 before being traded). And of course, the player flirting with .400 was not Cody Bellinger.

Indeed, the season that cannot be named was 1994. The 1994 season was lost on August 12 of that year when the MLB players went on strike. The remainder of that season was cancelled and the work stoppage lasted until April 2, 1995.

Williams.jpg

To say this work stoppage was a shame would be an understatement. 1994 was one of the most promising years in the history of baseball. But rather than see it through to its storied end, fans were shafted when the players and ownership could not agree on a new contract. This strike inflicted massive damage on the sport’s image and its attendance suffered for many seasons thereafter.

When the season ended, the Montreal Expos had baseball’s best record. A decade later, the franchise had to leave town because attendance had lagged. How many more fans would have packed Olympic Stadium if the Expos had gone on to make a deep playoff run that year? What if the team had won a World Series championship?

When the season ended, future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn not only led the majors in hitting; he also was making a serious run at the .400 mark. Only one player in history hit .400 and that was Ted Williams. Gwynn was really close, ending the strike-shortened 1994 season at .394. At that point, his team should have had 45 games left, more than half of them at his home stadium where Gwynn traditionally hit for a higher average.

And Gwynn had been riding a hot streak. He had hit .426 over his last 29 games and .475 in August. Had baseball not pulled the plug on his best season, Gwynn may well have finished above .400 or even bested Williams’ record of a .406 batting average.

Gwynn.jpg

How about other potential records? Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds had not discovered all of their vitamins yet, so Roger Maris’ record of 61 still stood as the single season home run mark. But when the strike stopped the MLB season on August 12, 1994, Matt Williams and Ken Griffey, Jr. were leading the league with 43 and 40 home runs apiece, respectively. A reasonable projection would put both of those players in the mid-to-high 50s by the end of a full season of baseball. With the warmth of late summer, one or more hitters may have set a new home run mark in 1994.

Did I mention that Greg Maddux had an earned run average (ERA) of only 1.56 when the 1994 season stopped? If he’d kept that steady, he would had one of the lowest ERA’s in recorded history. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Maddux.jpg

But none of those things happened. The season stopped early. All of those possibilities were lost.

And as Major League Baseball ownership and its players union again find themselves with growing disagreement over salaries and conditions, I hope they will all remember what was lost the last time they let their egos get the better of them. After a long period of labor peace, this is the time since 1994 that I have heard experts predict a coming strike or lockout when the current collective bargaining agreement expires (which, I believe, occurs in 2021). Don’t do it, guys. There’s time enough to settle those differences off the field, so please step up to the plate before it’s too late.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Major_League_Baseball_season#Statistical_leaders
https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/did-the-1994-strike-cost-tony-gwynn-a-400-batting-average/
https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/kratzer01.shtml
https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/johnser03.shtml
https://deadspin.com/an-mlb-strike-might-be-the-players-only-leverage-1832909179

Top image: Calgary Herald. Others: Beckett Baseball Monthly cover and Upper Deck and Topps baseball cards.

Sort:  

In every season of every year in any sport, there is always that year that seems like the season should just comes to an end. This also happens in football thus year season and I am sure real Madrid is one of the club that is really affected with the bad season this year and they would have wish this year should comebto an end or this season

Hockey here went through a long work stoppage also. It's no fun when your team's season ends early, even less so when the whole season ends early.

Yea. Nobody or no team want a bad season for its group

Maybe in 1994 it could be a very valuable experience for baseball players in acting and making decisions. I see baseball in your country is very famous but not in my country. I don't know baseball players in your country so I can't do much comments. Have a nice day, sir.

.

If you're reading my posts as a gauge, then it's famous, but it's less important to many others.

Baseball is very famous sports in japan I know it from childhood because I love to watch cartoon and every Japanese cartoon plays baseball. Because of that every Indian child is aware of baseball and that’s an interesting game but in India cricket is very famous and that is little bit similar to baseball. I hope you will soon write about cricket. Enjoyed reading this blog

Thanks sir hope you will soon write about it. Cricket is like an religion in India 🇮🇳

Again baseball is in disarray with that kid opting for money in Japan and fastracking to free agency when he gets back. On the bright side my company is working with Puig again and we like the Ohio market so I will have reason to pay attention. We also work with Carpenter so I will watch a few Cards games.

They need to make some changes, no question, not only to the bargaining agreement, but also to get and keep more fans. Puig needs to send every fan a kiss.

The fan thing is hard. Baseball needs to loosen up and the players have fun. I have been watching games from the 30's and 40's and 50s on youtube. I love it. I watched Game 7 of 1952 series without reading the description of who won. It was so exciting and the players in that Game!!!!! Incredible. Here is a link. if you watch don't look at description. I got way into it.

@donkeypong, As you said 1994 was memorable year for baseball sport. Baseball has less popularity in Asian countries. But USA have huge attraction. 1994 MLB players take decisions freely. Some players showing their huge talent.

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvoting this reply.

What is important is what we learn from these moments to make future moments better. I love the game.

Absolutely spot on! I was the world’s biggest baseball nerd kid. I loved the sport so much I even had baseball-themed poems and short stories published in baseball magazines. Greg Maddux was my favorite player and, yeah, the Expos/Braves NL East pennant chase would have been epic that year.

But greed got in the way and when the season spun up the next year, I was one of the many fans who did not return to the same level of enthusiasm I had had before.

The Baseball Encyclopedia sat unopened for months. I stopped buying baseball cards in favor of comic books. The dog days of summer were no longer punctuated by marathon Cubs and Braves back-to-back baseball binges. (Cubs games typically started at 2:20p ET while Braves started at 7:05p ET, leaving just enough time for dinner in between).

I came back briefly for the Sosa-McGwire Derby only to be left broken-hearted once again when it was confirmed that they had been cheating.

Fuck you, MLB, for ruining what should be the greatest game in the world.

Posted using Partiko iOS

very interesting with this sport

this is what I like most, because this sport is rare in our area, only on television can I watch it

Coin Marketplace

STEEM 0.91
TRX 0.12
JST 0.129
BTC 54094.44
ETH 2365.15
BNB 546.72
SBD 7.85