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.