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MLB Labor Agreement Ensures No Repeat of 1994: MLB Fan Reaction
Just before Thanksgiving of 2011, Major League Baseball completed the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will ensure that fans will get to see full seasons and postseasons throughout at least 2016. The agreement ensures that MLB will have no work stoppage for 21 straight seasons by the deal's end.
End of 1994 season and 1995 Spring Training
While not everyone will like every part of the deal, at least we will have baseball. Those of us old enough to thoroughly remember the loss of the 1994 World Series should feel relieved. The 1994 strike ended the season early, canceled the entire postseason, and delayed and shortened the 1995 season. Remember the 1995 Spring Training replacement players? It took a number of years for many fans to regain their passion for the baseball. It also helped that Cal Ripken. Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak in September of 1995. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire's home run record chase in 1998 may have also helped refuel some fan interest.
1994 Montreal Expos
The 1994 strike ended more than just the season. It ended the Montreal Expos' legitimate chance at their first and only World Series. The Expos had the Majors' best record (74-40) and led the N.L. East by six games when the season ended on August 11. That was the first real chance they had at reaching the postseason since their only appearance in 1981, coincidentally another strike-shortened season. The strike also delayed the first ever A.L. and N.L. Wild Cards and division series until 1995.
1994 milestone chases
The 1994 strike also ended San Francisco Giants' Matt Williams and Seattle Mariners' Ken Griffey, Jr.'s outside chances at breaking Roger Maris' then single-season home run record of 61. Williams had 43 home runs at the strike date and appeared capable of at least challenging the record with 19 home runs to go in 47 scheduled games remaining. Griffey had 40 home runs with 50 games left, and he could go on a tear at any time.
In addition, batting sensation Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres was hitting .394 at the strike date with 45 games left. He could have hit .400 and become the first to do so since Ted Williams (.406) in 1941, which would have given the last-place Padres and their fans something to cheer. We will never know if Williams, Griffey, or Gwynn would have made history or how the Expos would have fared.
We will have baseball
Considering the NBA's cancellation of much of the 2011-2012 season - and possibly all of it, I consider the MLB deal a huge relief in that we will continue to see full baseball seasons and postseasons throughout at least 2016. Let us hope that the next labor meeting will bring similar results.
Barry Bloom, MLB, Union Announce Five-Year Labor Deal, mlb.mlb.com, November 22, 2011.
Baseball Almanac, Year by Year Leaders for Batting Average, baseball-almanac.com.
Baseball Almanac, Year by Year Leaders for Home Runs, baseball-alamanac.com
Major League Baseball, 1994 Regular Season Standings, mlb.mlb.com.
National Basketball Association, Scores and Schedules, nba.com.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. He currently coaches Little League in Florida. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly baseball radio call-in show.
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