Monday, June 22, 2009

The Baseball Strike of 1994

I was talking to a friend of mine during lunch today, and an interesting topic came up that I thought would be great to research and write about on the blog.

When I think of the 1994 baseball strike, I often think of the impact that this strike had on the organization of the Toronto Blue Jays. The team had won two consecutive World Series Championships (1992 and 1993) in which they had drawn over 4 million fans during each of those two seasons. It was after the 1993 season in which they Jays went on a noted decline in which they haven't been able to reach the playoffs and haven't drawn the types of attendance numbers that they once had in the early 90's. While there isn't a direct correlation to the strike and the decline of the Jays (as they lost several key players from the 1993 team), I do believe the strike played a factor on the Jays organization.

While I always thought the Jays hurt immensely from this strike, it appears that the Yankees hurt from the strike as well, but for different reasons. The 1994 Yankees were full of talent- having put together an amazing, despite only playing 113 games in the season (70-43 with a winning percentage of .620). Only the Expos had a higher winning percentage in which they were 74-40 during the 1994 season.

They had players such as Don Mattingly, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, Wade Boggs, Pat Kelly and Mike Stanley. Many of these players consisted of those that were part of their World Series run in 1996. Five of their nine starting players were hitting over .300 and it was a team did not rely solely on the homerun power. It was during this shortened season that Paul O'Neill was hitting .359 with 21 homeruns and walked an amazing 71 times. Bernie Williams and Luis Polonia combined for 36 stolen bases.

Not only did this team have a tremendous offensive lineup, but they also had a strong pitching staff. The one guy probably most annoyed at the strike was Jimmy Key, as he was already 17-4 during the season, with over a month left of baseball to play. While you never know how things would have panned out at the end of the season, it is interesting to see if this run could have began well before the 1996 season.

History of the Strike:
  • It lasted 232 days: beginning on August 12th, 1994 and ending on April 2, 1995.
  • The cancellation of the 1994 World Series was the first since 1904.
  • "New York Yankees captain Don Mattingly lost his best hopes to be in the postseason for the first time during his 13-year career. The Yankees, who had the best record in the American League, were last in the postseason in 1981, the last time there was a significant players' strike. Not only did the strike end Mattingly's best hopes for a postseason, it also ended any hopes that he would win a World Series. The Yankees last won a World Series in 1978. Mattingly had more at bats than any other active player without a postseason at bat and had led active players in games played without playing in the postseason." Taken from here
  • Replacement players were used at the start of the 1995 season.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays played their home games during the beginning of the 95 season in Dunedin, as it was against the law in Ontario to use replacement players.


Kyle said...

I remember the 94 season. I was at the last game before the strike. A Thursday night Phillies vs Mets game at Philly. The Phillies won 2-1 in 15 innings.

The strike of 94 really hurt baseball in Canada. Montreal never recovered. Toronto used to draw crowds of over 4 million in a season but that changed with the strike.

Also, Tony Gwynn was hitting .394. We never got to see if he could have hit .400 or not. That year, he was hitting .423 after the all star break and .475 for August. He had a legit chance at .400. He had only struck out 19 times that season...then again he never struck out more than 40 times in a season his whole career.

It was a tough year for the Yankees. It seemed like the Yankees had everything going for them and then the strike hits. They had a long carry effect in 1995 and it took an absolute miracle finish that year just to make the Wild card.

Bruno Von Rottweiler said...

A cousin of mine from Montreal couldn't stop claiming that the strike was some kind of benign conspiracy to stop the Expos from winning the whole shebang that year! My cousin BTW was/is a Mets fan who grew up in Quebec. IT would have been fun to see Montreal win it all. The Montrealers still claim it was a plot to eliminate baseball from Montreal...Bullshit! THe effing Expos didn't even have a radio contract in the end,did it?

The Jays could have Threepeat, but the strike happened. All the bandwagon jumpers broke their ankles jumping off and then rooting for the Leafs again!The team was never as good as 92-93 either.
For the Yanks, things were a changing in the Bronx. People knew that they were getting better and then in 95 they got to prove it and failed in epic fashion. Donnie Baseball finally saw the promised land (the playoffs) and did very well not surprisingly. Love or hate the Yanks, Donnie was a great player BUT Tino was a great successor.......I've heard that Tino played bad cop in the Yankee locker room in the Dynasty period to Jeter's good cop.