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The 1994 MLB Players Strike: The 20th Anniversary

On August 11, 1994 the final game of the 1994 MLB Season was played between the Montreal Expos and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates were victorious on that day winning by a score of 4-0. Twenty years ago today the history of baseball changed forever. There have been strikes in the game of baseball before but none of them were as damaging to the game as this one.

Here is the short story of what transpired prior to August 11, 1994. The MLB Players Association had been going back and forth with the MLB Oweners for almost one year over a proposed salary cap. The Owners claimed it was necessary to have a salary cap in place for small market teams to survive the current state of MLB.  The salary cap combined with local television revenues would sustain the smaller market teams and thus benefit all of MLB. The players were not willing to agree to the terms the owners had set and after numerous negotiations decided as a group to sit out the rest of the season. On top of all of the problems between the two sides there had not been an official commissioner presiding over baseball since 1992.  Baseball needed a commissioner that could moderate between the two sides.

The lock gate of a MLB stadium during the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

The locked gate of a MLB stadium during the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

On August 12, 1994 The strike officially began and America would not see Major League Baseball action until the strike ended on April 2, 1995. Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States District Court for the Southern District, New York, issued an injunction that ended the strike. Judge Sotomayor ruled that the players and owners were bound by the expired collective bargaining agreement until a new deal could be reached. The strike lasted a total of 232 days and reduced the 1995 season to 144 games from the traditional 162 games.

The sight that awaited the players when they returned to the diamond following the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

The sight that awaited the players when they returned to the diamond following the 1994 Players Strike. (Getty Images)

Throughout the 1995 MLB Season the fans showed their displeasure with the strike that had tainted the game that they love.  Many fans saw it as two greedy side fighting for more money.  Fans all over the country showed their disdain for the players in their own ways.  Many fans decided not to go to games or buy any MLB merchandise, while other fans decided to show up and let the players know how they felt by throwing objects at them and taunting them.  Baseball did not see much gain in popularity until the steroid driven home run fest of the late 1990’s.  The “Steroid Era” further damaged the game of baseball when it was made public in the mid 2000’s.

Because of the 1994 MLB Players Strike there was no World Series played that year, it was the first season without a World Series since 1904. There were many casualties of the strike of the 1994 Strike. The most notable were the Montreal Expos who were having their best season in team history and lead baseball with a 74-70 record when the strike ended. The Expos would have likely reached the MLB Playoffs and possibly even the World Series but instead faded into obscurity. The franchise would not reach the post season until the team became the Washington Nationals more than a decade later.

There are many lessons that have been learned from the 1994 Players Strike. The most important of those lessons is that no League can disregard the fans and still profit greatly from them. Many felt the financial impact that the strike had on the game due to raising the fans ire. Baseball was considered America’s most popular sport prior to the strike. It fell behind the NFL in popularity a few years after the strike and has never grabbed its old position back from football since. The game of baseball is a beautiful game but in 1994 it was tainted by greed and the fans were the biggest victims of the dispute between the owners and the players.

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The 1990 MLB Season: The Year Of The No-Hitter

When the 1990 Major League Baseball Season started there had been 217 total No-Hitters in the long history of baseball.  Many seasons have had their share of No-Hitters but the oncoming season would be the best for this difficult feat.  In the 1990 season a record seven No-Hitters would occur.  No other season since has been able to break this incredible record.  Let’s visit the 1990 season and it’s record breaking games.

April 11, 1990-

Mark Langston (7 Innings) – California Angels

Mike Witt (2 Innings) – California Angels

California Angels pitchers Mark Langston and Mike Witt combined for the No-Hitter in nine total innings.  Langston pitched seven innings while Witt pitched the final two innings of the game and recorded the save.  This was the second No Hitter of Witt’s career and Langston’s first and only in his career.

June 2, 1990-

Randy Johnson – Seattle Mariners

For the second time in the 1990 season the Mariners were involved in a No-Hitter on June 2nd.  This time they were on the better end of the of the box score.  Randy Johnson achieved his first career No-Hitter and grabbed his second win of the season in the 2-0 victory over the visiting Detroit Tigers.

June 11, 1990-

Nolan Ryan – Texas Rangers

One of the all time greatest pitchers and the career leader in No-Hitters, Nolan Ryan notched his sixth career “No-No” in the 1990 season.  In that game Ryan was given a good amount of help by his offense in the 5-0 victory in which his Texas Rangers visited the Oakland A’s.  Ryan would go on to throw one more No-Hitter in 1991 in his final Major League season in 1991 cementing his legacy as of the best pitchers in the history of baseball.

June 29, 1990-

Dave Stewart – Oakland A’s

Nineteen days after falling victim to Nolan Ryans sixth career no hitter the Oakland A’s were able to feel the joy of this great pitching feat themselves.  Dave Stewart pitched the A’s to a 5-0 No-Hit win against the Blue Jays in Toronto, Canada.  This was the first of two No-Hit games on the 29th of June in 1990.

June 29, 1990-

Fernando Valenzuela – Los Angeles Dodgers

Less than a decade removed from “Fernando Mania” the city of Los Angeles got to revel in the greatness that this pudgy pitcher from Mexico was able to provide on June 29, 1990.  Fernando Valenzuela was the second pitcher to record a No-Hitter on that day, it was the only one of his career.  Fernando was able to pitch his Dodgers to the 6-0 No-Hit victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in L.A.  It would be the last great moment of Fernando Valenzuela’s career.

August 15, 1990-

Terry Mulholland – Philadelphia Philles

Terry Mulholland became the victor in the sixth No-Hitter of the 1990 season on Agust 15th,  His Phillies defeated the visiting San Francisco Giants by a score of 6-0.

Most baseball fans could not believe that they had witnessed so many No-Hit performances in one season.  The seson was not yet finish and niether was this history making season.

September 2, 1990-

Dave Stieb –  Toronto Blue Jays

Dave Stieb finished off this history making season with its seventh and final No-Hitter.  Stieb’s Blue Jays defeated the Indians in Cleveland, OH by a score of 3-0.  The Blue Jays became the third team that season to fall to a No-Hitter only to return later that season with a No-Hit performance of their own.

 

MLB Opening Day: The Only No Hitter

The opening day of the baseball season has been filled with historic moments and happenings.  Moments like Hank Aaron tying Babe Ruth’s home run record and Ted Williams hitting .449 in all of his opening day game appearances.  One of these milestones happened in 1940 and has yet to be repeated on the day that starts the long baseball season, a no hitter.

On April 16, 1940 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Hall Of Fame pitcher Bob Feller made the history books when he threw his first no hitter.  Completing a no hitter as a pitcher is incredible enough but there is another element that makes this feat even more incredible, this is the only occurrence of a no hitter on Opening Day.  On that day Feller pitched his Cleveland Indians to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  The eventual game winning run was scored by the Indians in the 4th inning when Jeff Heath scored on a Rollie Hemsley hit.  The losing pitcher that day was Eddie Smith.

Bob Feller would have two more no hitters in his career before he retired in 1956.  Those came in the 1946 and 1951 seasons against the Yankees and Tigers.  Bob Feller was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1962.  Feller amassed 266 wins and 162 loses and threw 2,581 strikeouts.  An interensting note to his career is that he also threw 12 one hit games on top of his three no hitters.

Dan Marino: Did The Lack Of An Elite Running Back Really Cost Him Super Bowl Rings?

The day is January 20th, 1985 and the location is Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California.  It was Super Bowl XIX and the Maimi Dolphins took on the San Fransisco 49ers.  It was a battle between two Hall Of Fame quarterbacks,  Dan Marino and Joe Montana.  It was a very one sided game with the 49ers coming out victorious.  The final score was 38-16 as seen on the scoreboard while Dan Marino jogged back to the locker room.  Marino had an incredible second season and even though the Dolphins lost the big one it appeared he would be back again.  As history would have it Marino and the Dolphins never made it back to the Super Bowl.

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

Dan Marino retired in 1999 after 17 seasons.  Holding almost all of the records at his position, Marino was considered one of the best to ever play the game.  There are many who consider Marino not to be one of the best because he never won a Super Bowl ring.  Over the years the perception has been that Marino was talented enough to win a championship but never did because he never had an elite level running back.

I decided to crunch the stats and draft history to prove or disprove this theory.  Here are the results I found while I plunged deep into the various statistical categories that would help me solve this mystery.

There is evidence that the Dolphins never made a play for a high level free agent running back.  The Dolphins also never made a trade for a play maker at that position either.  They were and are still to this day a team that is not willing to make trades of future draft picks to acquire top talent.  The draft is a place where organizations can gain players that can affect their future.  The Dolphins drafted Marino in 1983 when he retired in 1999 they missed numerous opportunities to achieve greatness at the running back position.

In 1983 the very draft where they acquired Dan Marino they missed out on on two pro bowl running backs.  One of those running back was Roger Craig who turned out to be one of the best running backs of the 1980s.  Craig was also on the 49ers team that defeated the Dolphins at Super Bowl XIX.  Their draft picks only get worse from there.

The Dolphins only drafted 23 running backs of the 174 picks during the Marino era.  A total of 9 of those 23 backs never played a down in the NFL.  The dolphins did not draft one running back in 1994, 1995 and 1997.  With the exception of the 1997 draft the Dolphins had not so great performances at the back position the previous season, Mark Higgs was the leading rusher in 1993 with just 693 yards and in 1994 Bernie Parmalee was the leader with 878 yards.  The biggest blunder they made in one single draft would have to be the 1988 Draft.  In that draft the Dolphins could have selected the Hall Of Fame running back Thurman Thomas but instead selected three players that would never play in the NFL. Thomas wound up as a Buffalo Bill and won 4 AFC Championships with the team from 1990-1994.  In total the team missed out on 2 Hall Of Fame and 44 Pro Bowl running backs from 1983-1999.

During Marino’s time with the team they had only one season with a 1,000 yard rusher, Karim Abdul-Jabbar in 1996.  If you look at all of the teams that won the Super Bowl from 1983-1999 only 3 of the 16 teams that won did not have a 1,000 yard rusher.

The Dolphins made the playoffs 10 times during Marino’s Career.  They were 8-10 in all of those post season games.  Some blame many of the playoff losses to playing the Bills in the winter in freezing Buffalo, NY, which they did lose there many times.  The fact of the mater is if the Dolphins had at least a couple of the many running backs they passed up in the Draft history might have gone a little differently.

After looking at the stats, draft and history it leaves only one conclusion.  Dan Marino was one of the best,  unfortunately the Dolphins front office was not as skilled at what they did.  The blame must shift to the general managers and Don Shula especially.  Don Shula relied to much on Marino’s skill and talent and did not do enough to protect and enhance that talent.  Marino would have had more opportunities to win he was if the opposing defenses did not know he was going to pass most of the time.  They also would have been weary of a running attack if the Dolphins had one.  If Marino had a top level running back he not only would have made it to more Super Bowl’s he would have won at least one Super Bowl ring.