Back in Oct. 1994, the BBWAA handed out its annual awards as usual — no matter if ballparks had been empty for over two months, the World Series had been canceled or the league's players were striking and alienating fans across the country.
Bob Hamelin and Raul Mondesi,
both future Hall of Famers, were named the top rookies in baseball.
All for an uncompleted season that effectively ended when the strike began on Aug. 12.
The Sports Illustrated Vault contains an excellent Steve Wulf article from that season and it covers most of the questions we'd ask of the writers 15 years later.A quick summary:
• The BBWAA had a debate during its All-Star break meetings — an event that many vacationing members did not attend — and decided that the awards should be handed out even if there were a strike and the regular season were shortened.
• Some writers like Joel Sherman of the New York Post were against the awards and submitted incomplete ballots. The BBWAA recruited other voters to fill their spots.
• With his introduction to the Internet still 14 years away, Murray Chass said the organization had "no mechanism" for re-polling voters on the issue after the season was officially canceled in September.
• Wulf believed the writers went ahead with the vote in order to reassert their position as the awards of record. The BBWAA, he wrote, should asserted their authority in a different way, declaring 1994 as a "non-season."
• Not a bad temp job: Maddux received a $750,000 bonus for winning the Cy Young, while Thomas took home $100,000 for his second straight AL MVP.
When I revisited this issue on Twitter last night, @RaysIndex was quick to point out that awards were handed out after the strike-shortened 1981 season. I responded by saying that at least the World Series was held that year, but @RI maintained his stance that since they are awards for the regular season, the distribution made sense. It's not as if the stats from the first four months of the season were expunged from the record books.
That may be (and there have been far greater injustices in baseball that year) but the '94 awards will always strike me as one of the most curious decisions in the sport's history.
There were so many more reasons not to hand them out than the other way around.