The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

AUGUST  2009

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







The Season Never Finished

By Jerry Keys

It has been fifteen years since the season was aborted. The cracks of the bats were halted on August 11, 1994. The strike erased the rest of the 1994 season and almost the entire month of April 1995. This strike was the longest of any of the previous seven work stoppages.

The supposed root cause was when the "owners decided to withhold $7.8 million that they were required to pay per previous agreement into the players' pension and benefit plans." The failed approval of the antitrust legislation led the player's union to set a strike date. Negotiations were on-and-off throughout 1994 and then-President Bill Clinton ordered each side to restart negotiations and have an agreement by February 6. That date came and went (sorry Prez).

Fifteen years ago, 60 and 61 were (and in my book still are) still considered the magical home run milestones. Would Matt Williams or Ken Griffey have shattered the mark? With roughly 45 games left to be played, who knows? What about Tony Gwynn's quest to hit .400? Don Mattingly reaching the post-season for the 1st time?

Jerry Keys

Outside of Mattingly getting his wish a year later, no one can answer what these players would have accomplished. They (home run record, batting .400) were only the two most celebrated records for hitters.

Before the strike ended on April 2, owners proposed to use replacement players. Players who were to participate in these games (and went on to major league rosters) are barred from joining the players union. "In 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004, certain players who were part of the World Series-winning New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Anaheim Angels and Boston Red Sox were not permitted to have their names or likenesses on commemorative merchandise because they had been declared replacement players for having participated in the 1995 spring training."

A large number of baseball think-tankers and I proposed to use certain mathematical calculations to see who would have won the 1994 World Series. The single-season hypotheses for the home runs and batting .400 have already been done thousands of times, so those will not be addressed.

Below is the pre-strike standings and the final (hypothetical) standings for the 1994 season:

A few notes: The AL West would have (by far) awarded the pennant to the team with the lowest winning percentage ever. The NL West would have had the second-worst. Seattle, Baltimore and San Francisco would each win the one-game playoff, San Francisco and Seattle for the division and Baltimore the AL wild-card. After the Kingdome roof collapse, Seattle was forced to play their remaining games on the road (making their AL West championship very ironic yet understated with a 70-92 regular season). The NL Central race between Cincinnati and upstart-Houston may have ended differently had team leader Jeff Bagwell not been injured on the next-to-last game of the season (broken wrist-hit by pitch).

The 1994 playoffs are set, Seattle vs. New York and Baltimore vs. Chicago in the AL. In the NL, San Francisco vs. Montreal and Cincinnati vs. Atlanta. The two NLDS (National League Division Series) ended much as the way anyone would have expected, with Montreal defeating San Francisco three games to two and Atlanta besting Cincinnati three games to one.

In the ALDS, Seattle put forth a gallant effort against the Yankees but playing three-fourths of their games on the road (their last "home" game was July 18th) took their toll as New York swept the series three games to none. Chicago and Baltimore displayed a series for the ages with the White Sox winning the series three games to two.
The ALCS (American League Championship Series) pitted Chicago vs. New York and the NLDS, Montreal vs. Atlanta. Chicago and Atlanta were slight favorites due to recent post-season experience.

The ALCS would go seven games and the Yankees would have slipped past Chicago. The key to New York's victory was an overall balanced line-up and the precise pitching of staff ace Jimmy Key.

The much anticipated NLCS would offer drama but in a more subdued way, pitching. Each game except one would total less than ten runs scored combined. Atlanta would win the NLCS four games to two. Each pitching staff kept hitters in check and three games were decided by one or two runs. The overall playoff experience of Atlanta played a partial role in certain clutch situations.

The 1994 World Series placed New York vs. Atlanta. Atlanta would capture their first World Series since relocating from Milwaukee, defeating New York four games to two. The keys to Atlanta's victory would be playoff experience, getting to New York's shaky bullpen early and clutch hitting with runners in scoring position. The World Series MVP would be Greg Maddux who erased his demons of the previous years meltdown in 1993's NLCS against Philadelphia.

A few things to note, two of the four 1994 playoff match-ups were actual 1995 match-ups, Seattle vs. New York and Cincinnati vs. Atlanta. New York and Atlanta did actually meeting in two World Series in the 1990's, 1996 and 1999; each New York victories.

This conclusion of the aborted 1994 season could be calculated by a multitude of different methods and different teams reign as World Series champions. The key question is not only the playoffs but who would participate in them.

I am quite sure many baseball pundits would conclude Montreal or New York as champions. They may very well be right.

The key to every analysis of the 1994 season is complete speculation. This is why it always seems morbid. No one will ever know.

A World Series was played every year throughout the two World Wars but not in 1994. Attendance records were being set in numerous parks. It was America's Pastime. They key word, "was."

Although baseball was not alone, a handful of years later the NBA lost around 50% of a regular season due to a strike and the NHL several years later lost an entire season.