Sports Throwback Thursday: 1994 MLB Strike

It’s Sports Throwback Thrusday! For today’s edition, I’m going to talk about the 1994 MLB Strike.

Before I go any further, I want to give a lot of credit to my best friend, Kevin Rodriguez. He gave me the idea to write about the 1994 MLB Strike.

The strike became one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of Baseball. Fans felt betrayed. Potential records could’ve been broken.

Owners proposed many changes such as: revenue sharing tied to a salary cap, which would result in more even compensation across the clubs (the welfare of small-market clubs was a stated ownership concern), elimination of salary arbitration, and free agent after four years instead of six.

The MLB Players Association did not go along with this. Players Association always opposed to a salary cap, feeling that it would limit player compensation.

The strike began on August 12, 1994. Commissioner Bud Selig pulled the plug on September 14th. MLB lost $580 million in ownership revenue and $230 million in player salaries.

The ‘94 strike robbed many things, but the main one that comes to my mind is the Montreal Expos. Before the 1994 season, another Canadian team won back to back titles and that was the Toronto Blue Jays. Many Expos’ fans felt jealous because they felt that it should’ve been the Expos winning a title first, before the Blue Jays. Expos were one of the hottest teams in the second half of the 1993 season. The only reason they didn’t make the playoffs is because the regular season ended. If there were more regular season games, then they might’ve passed the Phillies in the division. However, this gave the city of Montreal a taste of what’s about to come for the following season.

Expos had a lot of youth and depth starting with the big three in their outfield: Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Larry Walker. All had solid arms, phenomenal defense and speed. They had a rookie first basemen Cliff Floyd.  Catcher Darrin Fletcher and shortstop Will Cordero, were other talented players. Expos had all the talent in their lineup but in order to match the Braves’ pitching, they needed some spark in their rotation. They found that spark and no one saw it coming.

When the Expos traded Delino DeShields to the Dodgers, for a young Pedro Martinez. It did not sit too well with the Montreal fans. The Dodgers didn’t feel that Martínez was big or strong enough to be a starting pitcher. Boy were they wrong. Expos’ general manager Dan Duquette and manager Felipe Alou, were very instrumental in the growth of Pedro Martinez. When Pedro came to the Expos, he won 12 games and led the team in strikeouts (142) in the ‘94 season. A star in the making, Pedro was on the rise. Ken Hill led the rotation with 16 wins. Jeff Passero, their third best pitcher, had a 2.99 ERA. As for their bullpen, they had closer John Wetteland.

Expos had the best record in baseball, 74-40. Five Expos represented the National League All-Star team: Alou, Grissom, Fletcher, Cordero and Hill. There’s always going to be a “what if” with this team. Many believe the Expos could’ve gone to the World Series or win the World Series. It would’ve been interesting to have a Canadian World Series between the Expos and Jays. The Jays were not good enough as they finished third with a 56-60 record.

The strike happened to be the beginning of the end for the Expos. If it wasn’t for the strike, would the Expos still be in Montreal today? Hmm that’s a tough question to answer. We will never know. But I do hope that baseball returns to Montreal in the future.

The Yankees were also a very good team that season. They had the best record in the American League and second best record in Baseball, 70-43. Don Mattingly could’ve made his postseason debut, but he would have to wait for the following season as the Yankees won the first wild card.

San Francisco Giants’ Matt Williams had a shot of catching Roger Maris’ home run record. Williams had 43 homers with 47 games left in the season. He trailed Maris single season home run record by 18 homers. The record would later be broken by Mark McGwire in 1998, and then Barry Bonds in 2001 with 73 homers.

Tony Gwynn put on a show. Gwynn came very close to hitting .400. He could’ve been the first player since Ted Williams to hit .400 in a season. Unfortunately, because of the strike, he finished the season batting .396.

Could there be another strike in Baseball in the foreseeable future? There’s a possibility that it can happen. We see what happens when organizations give 10-year contracts to players. It never works. A player’s strike can happen if the front office stop giving these players large contracts. This will not sit well with players and will force them to take action. I hope we don’t see another strike again because take a look at all the amazing things that were stripped away in that ‘94 season. We don’t want to see another sad story like the Expos.


Jean Carlos Sanchez: The Film Critic

“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things.”

This is a quote from the great Martin Scorsese. It’s Jean Carlos Sanchez favorite quote.

Jean Carlos Sanchez is a rising Dominican-American film critic. Born and raised in Dyckman, which is a part of Washington Heights in New York. A community heavily populated by Latinos especially Dominicans. For as long as Jean can remember, he’s always loved film.

“The first film I can vividly remember watching was “Poltergeist” and I was just blown away by it. Wrestling, Sports and movies were always my things. I didn’t fully get into studying film the way I do now, until I was about 13, when my sister Vianela started dating my brother in law Hector,” Sanchez says. “He started lending me DVDs of older films and that opened my eyes to movies that weren’t just commercially appealing. I then would do my own research by looking up actors and directors going film by film.”

So what drove Jean Carlos Sanchez to become a film critic?

“Roger Ebert, the goat of film criticism was a big inspiration and somebody I admired,” Sanchez stated. “I would constantly be on YouTube watching his movie reviews with Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper. I loved seeing others talk about films as it was something I did and I enjoyed breaking films down. So, I felt this was something I could do long term, due to my passion for film.”

Sanchez is knowing for delivering breaking news, trailers and in depth reviews for movies and shows. For many years, friends would tell Jean to create an Instagram page dedicated to movies. But Jean refused until one friend changed his mind.

“One day, a childhood friend of mine named Chris who we call Hyper just said something that clicked and I decided to go for it. I always had a lot of friends come to me for opinions on films and to give them mini reviews so it just made perfect sense to finally do it,” Sanchez says. “The name “Merc With The Movies” came from my girlfriend Jennifer, she knows I’m a big Deadpool fan. When she said it, I instantly felt in love with it because I wanted my Instagram name to have a movie or film in the title, so people could know it was a film/movie page.”

During the beginning of “Merc With The Movies” Era, Jean endured a few challenges that any new business page would face.

“At first, the challenge was getting people who weren’t friends of mine to support the page, which is something that has gotten better; as I have a couple of truly loyal followers that I have built good bonds with,” Sanchez says. “Another challenge was getting better at writing reviews. I look back at some of my old reviews and I feel I’ve come a long way. I read some old reviews now and they come off mediocre like I had yet to find my voice and confidence.”

When you are trying to create or build something, there’s always going to be positive and negative comments thrown at you. It comes with the territory no matter what position or field you’re in. When I asked Jean if he remembered one specific positive and negative comment that stood out to him, he said this:

“Well, it was 3 different pages that are loyal followers but they pretty much said the same thing. I had made a post about how I may not have 20K followers and stuff but I loved what I did on my page and putting people on. The three of them pretty much said they spoke for everybody that they appreciated what I do, that my reviews and updates are necessary and influence them. And they loved how they can voice their opinions without any judgement from me. How I’m a virtual friend to them and they love that they can share their passion for film with somebody like me,” Sanchez explained.

“Negative comments I don’t get many but they’ll be an occasional troll that would try belittling me for not having many followers and some of my posts getting little likes. Which is okay because some posts get a lot of likes,” he continued. “It all depends on the interest of people. I don’t only post about popular films, I try supporting indie and foreign films.”

Many artists like myself are “jack of all trades”. Love to be versatile and wear so many hats in a film production. Jean loves critiquing films, but his love for film goes beyond than just one category.

“I went to college to study film, I was a film studies major in fact. I took some screenwriting courses and I really enjoyed it because I’ve been told by teachers I have a very creative mind,” Sanchez says. “So maybe one day, I would love to write a screenplay or script treatment like get a story by credit where a more accomplished writer could bring out my ideas in a better way.”

Sanchez has high expectations for himself. He’s also looking into expanding his knowledge and love for film by creating a website and/or using YouTube for more exposure.

“One of my goals is to maybe make the jump into creating a website to be taken more serious and considered press one day,” Sanchez says. “Another goal is to hopefully one day get rid of my camera shyness and make reviews on YouTube. I tend to hate that Instagram has a caption limit and I have to cut reviews short. Making YouTube movie reviews would allow me to go on for a couple of minutes. I’d be able to really cover everything I want to touch on.”

If it wasn’t for film, what would Jean Carlos Sanchez have done for a living?

“My first passion was wrestling. As a kid you couldn’t tell me it was fake and I wanted to be a wrestler,” he continued. “I dreamed of moving to Canada and training in the Hart Family dungeon. Obviously we know that didn’t become a reality. My other love being sports I maybe would of wanted to cover sports.”

Knowing Jean for almost 10 years, one of the things we talk about is the “Top 5, Top 10” of any category. In this situation, we get to know more about Jean’s favorite genre, actors, actresses, films and shows.

“My favorite genre is crime, I’m a sucker for mob films or crime thrillers. My top 5 favorite films are Terminator 2: Judgement Day, GoodFellas, Pulp Fiction, Heat and Cinema Paradiso,” Sanchez says. “My 6-10 change rotations a lot but the top 5 have remained the same for a while. My two favorite sitcoms of all time are Seinfeld and Friends and all time favorite shows are The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Oz, The Wire and Entourage, which kind of tells you how much I really love the crime genre,” he continued. “My favorite actors are Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino and Joaquin Phoenix. On the actress side my top two have always been Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand, I feel those are two actresses who even if they are in a bad film, don’t put out bad performances.”

Jean Carlos Sanchez’s go-to sites in regards to news and updates about movies is The Playlist, Screen Rant and Reel Talk Inc. The site Reel Talk Inc is run by his friend David Gonzalez and his wife Jennie. He recommends any cinephile to follow the Reel Talk Inc Instagram page and the podcast Reel Chronicles.

The world may not know who Jean Carlos Sanchez is yet, but one day they will. He can go in depth with films from the silent film era to modern films of the 21st century. To find out more about his work, follow his Instagram page @mercwiththemovies.

Sanchez currently reside in Spanish Harlem.

Miguel’s Friday Thoughts: The Last Dance

No, this is not the last post of my blog haha. It’s MFT! Miguel’s Friday Thoughts. On today’s edition, I’m going to talk about the first two episodes of the documentary, The Last Dance. Based on the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls.

The impact of the Coronavirus cancelled all sporting events. The main focus in sports for this week is about the Chicago Bulls of the 90s. I find this documentary very interesting because everytime you talk about the Bulls of the 90s, you think about the championships. However, this is a little different because the Bulls allowed a camera crew to follow them throughout the 1997-1998 season. We get to see more of the behind the scenes from the players and coaches to the front office. The first thing I will talk about is the General Manager Jerry Krause.

Jerry Krause did a great job in getting Michael Jordan more help. In 1987, he was responsible for bringing in a rookie Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and hired Phil Jackson as an Assistant Coach, who later went on to become the head coach. Krause does deserve some credit for building a successful team, but at the end of the day, the players need to go out in the court and perform.

What caused the demise of the Bulls? Jerry Krause is No 1 on that list.

His insecurities got the better of him. As I watched this documentary, there’s a video of Krause staring down Michael Jordan as Jordan is entering the team bus. It looks like he didn’t like his own players. These players led by Jordan were responsible for bringing six championships to that organization. Krause had the nerve to say “Organizations win championships.” No, organizations can play a part in that, but it’s the talent of players that takes the team to the promise land. Krause’s strained relationship with Phil Jackson was the start of their downfall. Michael Jordan had mentioned that he won’t play for another coach besides Phil Jackson.

If you’re Krause, why would you let Phil Jackson go? If you’re Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls, how did you let this happen?

I’m not a Bulls fan, but it really ticked me off when I heard Krause tell Phil, “I don’t care if we go 82-0, you’re gone.” How can you be so selfish? I understand that they were getting old and at some point they were going to rebuild, but this Bulls team was good enough to come back and possibly four-peat. Also, this would’ve been a great challenge for Phil Jackson to coach a rebuilding team. If you look at Phil Jackson’s coaching history, he never had to coach a rebuilding team. Regardless of the situation, Phil Jackson would get his revenge as he would go on to win three straight titles (2000-2002) with Shaq and Kobe.

Scottie Pippen is a very underrated player. He’s one of the Top 50 greatest players ever. After Michael Jordan’s first retirement, Scottie Pippen was the second best player in the NBA after Hakeem Olajuwon. In the 1993/94 season, he averaged 22.0 points per game, 8.7 rebounds and 49.1% field goal percentage. He led the Bulls with a 55-27 record finishing 3rd in the MVP voting and 4th in Defensive Player of the Year voting. When Jordan returned, he was their second best player and led every category except points per game.

Despite the success, Pippen was criminally underpaid and undervalued. He was the 6th highest paid Bull and the 122nd highest paid player in the league for the 1997-98 campaign. Scottie was getting paid like a 6th man on his own team. A man that gave you his blood, sweat and tears, was making only $2.8 mil that season. If it were in today’s NBA, Scottie would’ve gotten the max contract. It made me feel bad for him to see the way the front office treated him. The front office was also trying to trade him. As Michael Jordan would say on the documentary, “Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen.” Jordan almost looked emotional when he said those words. Jordan was also underpaid in his last years with the Bulls, making $33 mil.

When I think about Michael Jordan, two words come to mind: winning and drive. I love that in this documentary we see more of his college years at North Carolina. He had no fear of the big moment since he hit the game-winning shot against Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA Championship. He was only a Freshmen. Jordan loved to win.

As a young player with the Bulls in the 80s, management wanted to tank in order to get a decent draft pick. This was the beginning of a fractured relationship between Jordan and the front office. Jordan refused to tank. He wanted to make the playoffs. He wanted to keep that energy going in Chicago and he certainly did.

Sports Throwback Thursday: 2003 Florida Marlins

Today’s edition of Sports Throwback Thrusday is about the 2003 Florida Marlins. An improbable team that shocked the world by winning it all.

In all of my 20 years following Sports, the 2003 Florida Marlins team is one of the most incredible stories In baseball history. A season where the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants and Cubs were considered favorites, no one thought about the Marlins. A team with a lot of talent starting with names like Ivan Rodriguez, Derrick Lee, Mike Lowell alongside with young talents like Dontrelle Willis, underrated big game pitcher Josh Beckett, and rookie phenom, future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.

Marlins won the wild card. In the playoffs, their first test was against the San Francisco Giants, who were a pretty tough team. Giants won over 100 games. No one gave the Marlins a chance. Marlins beat the Giants in 4 games. The series ended with Jeff Connie throwing JT Snow out at the plate. Snow knocked down Ivan Rodriguez, but Rodriguez maintained the ball in his hands.

In the NLCS, their next test was the Chicago Cubs. Another team that many thought the Marlins couldn’t beat. Marlins were down 3 games to 1 in the series. The young stud Josh Beckett took the mound in Game 5 and pitched a complete game shutout. In Game 6, Cubs were up 3-0 in the Top of the 8th inning. Steve Bartman became the main focus of a controversial inning. In my opinion, Bartman didn’t deserve all the bad things that were said and done to him. Without Bartman, Alou would have not made the play regardless at foul territory. It would’ve been close but I don’t think Alou would’ve caught the ball. That’s just my opinion.

After the Bartman incident, Cubs still had chances to end the inning. With one out in the inning and a runner on first, Miguel Cabrera grounded to Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez. This grounder should’ve ended the inning with a double play. Gonzalez committed an error. He’s probably one of the luckiest men to walk on earth. If it wasn’t for Steve Bartman, he would’ve received so much blame. Cubs would win the 2016 World Series. Time heal all wounds. 

Marlins capitalized on the error. They scored 8 runs in the 8th inning and changed the whole momentum of the series. Marlins went on to win Game 7 and advanced to the World Series. 

This next part pains me till this day. Marlins faced my New York Yankees in the World Series. Game 4 of the World Series turned out to be the difference maker in the series. Marlins shortstop Alex Gonzalez hit a walk-off in the 12th inning to win the game and tied the series at 2. Marlins would win Game 5.

In Game 6, Yankee Stadium, Josh Beckett would go on to pitch the best game of his career. On a Saturday night, this 12-year old kid saw Beckett making the Yankee hitters look bad. He dominated the whole game. Beckett pitched another complete game shoutout; securing the Marlins their second world championship in their franchise history. One of the biggest upsets. They shocked New York. Beckett would win the World Series MVP.

Due to being a small market team, the Marlins couldn’t come back the following season to repeat. Several of their core players were traded away.

We love seeing underdogs come out on top. This is what makes Baseball exciting. Although the Marlins did this at the expense of my Yankees, but they gave all of us Baseball fans a season to remember. They are the example of a great Cinderella Story.


Unforgettable Sunday in ’97

For as long as I can remember, Sundays in the 90s were the best, especially in the Summer. Going to the park on Sundays was a tradition in those days, whether it was Inwood Hill Park or Randall’s Island, we had a great time bonding with my mom and dad’s side of the family.

On this particular day in July of 1997, we went to J Hood Wright Park. It’s nearby where we used to live: 177th Street and Pinehurst Avenue. However, this day was a little different. My dad decided to stay at home. My mom went to work. My grandmother, my sisters Jessica and Melissa and I went to the park to enjoy this nice sunny day. While we were at the park, I behaved like a typical 6-year old, filled with energy, running around, not obeying. On this day, not listening turned our day into an unforgettable day. My oldest sister Jessica, who was 15 at the time, kept yelling to stop running. I was running ahead of them and running pretty fast. As Jessica was approaching me (my grandmother couldn’t run), a bike came out of nowhere and ran me over. It happened so fast. None of us saw it coming. The speed of the bike made me spin and then my face crushed into the ground. I began crying hysterically in pain. Everyone that was nearby including my grandmother and my sisters, came towards me. This was 1997. There were no smartphones. If this happened today, people would’ve pulled out their phones to film rather than trying to help out. I’m glad that back then, people had more common sense and took situations seriously. I was in deep pain. I was bleeding from my mouth. I hurt two of my front teeth. As we were walking off the park, I remember this guy, who looked like a teenager or in his early 20s telling my sister Jessica,

“Ay que llevarlo para el hospital.”

When we got home, I knew it was not going to be good. My dad was laying down in bed, probably watching Baseball. The moment I walked into his room and he saw me, he immediately jumped out of the bed. The way he jumped out of the bed, I’ve never seen him so angry. It was terrifying. He went off on Jessica and my grandmother. I remember feeling awful for them, especially for Jessica because although she was 15, her height and her maturity at the time, was beyond her age. Besides my grandmother, Jessica was our caretaker. She stepped up whenever my parents needed her help. It was an accident and to this day, I take blame for why this happened. I didn’t listen and I got what I deserved. I learned to obey the hard way.

My dad changed clothes and we all went to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. My mom, who was at work, went to the hospital after finding out. I didn’t stay the night at the hospital. I got discharged at 9pm or 10pm. The doctors said not to eat anything. So I mostly drank liquids. I had no brain damage. My mouth was swollen. It didn’t fully heal for like 2-3 weeks. During recovery, at the beginning, I remember being uncomfortable due to the fact I couldn’t eat because of my teeth, but things started to get better during the healing process. 

My dad was furious. He told my mom that he wants to go to the park and beat the crap out of the kid who did this. His father could get it too. My mom being the calm and peacemaker person that she is said:

“Pa que? Tu no sabe quién fue. Y como quiera, eso pasa. Lo muchacho se caen.”

The next day, my dad picked up where he left off and continued to go off. My grandmother who had enough of him, snapped back:

“Mojon! Porque tu no fuiste a cuidar tu muchacho entonces?”

My mom and I, we laugh about her comeback line to this day. My grandmother and my dad had a comical mother and son-in-law relationship. Their relationship reminded me of Martin and Pam. If you ever watched the Martin Show, then you know what I’m talking about. My grandmother always had the funny comebacks, the delivery and facial expression. If my Dad would drink on a Saturday, she would say:

“No quiero que tu me diga el proximo dia que te haga sopa”.

She would still make him soup the next day to cure his hangover. Despite the back and forth, they had a lot of love for each other. My dad considered her a second mom. My grandmother, God rest her soul, was the heart and soul of the family. We miss her presence very dearly. No one is perfect in this world, but in my eyes, my grandmother was the definition of perfection.

In the first few months after the accident, I was disappointed because I felt that I never got an apology. Looking back now, he was a kid himself. I’m completely over it and moved on. This accident changed me. I learned a valuable lesson at a young age to listen when someone is telling you something. It’s for your own good. From that day forward, I’ve never had to make a trip to the hospital again for an injury. Thank God. When you listen and learn, you’re going to be okay. It worked out and made me become the man that I am today.