Tag Archives: players

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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1983 NFL Draft – “The Best NFL Draft Ever”

The first ever NFL Draft took place in 1936. That draft only consisted of 81 players. Four of those players would become Hall Of Famers. Since then the NFL has developed the draft into a giant event. Another one of the players selected in that draft, Paul “Bear” Bryant would later give up playing football to become a coach. He would become one of the greatest college football coaches ever while at the University of Alabama. There have been many great draft classes in the years since but they all pale in comparison to one in particular.

The 1983 NFL Draft took place on Arpil 26th and 27th of that year in New York City. It included twelves rounds and 335 players were selected. Over 30 of those players selected would go to the Pro Bowl. Eric Dickerson, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, Bruce Matthews, Darrell Green and Richard Dent who were all selected that day would later be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Other than all of the things I have mentioned the draft is remembered for another reason, the Quarterbacks.

This was the best draft class of quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. It also holds the record for most quarterbacks selected in the first round with six. Three of those six would make it into the Hall Of Fame. The standout quarterbacks of the class were by far John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

John Elway (Getty Images)

John Elway (Getty Images)

John Elway was taken with the first overall pick by the Baltimore Colts. He was eventually traded before the season to Denver due to his unwillingness to play for the Colts head coach Frank Kush. During his career he established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. When his career was over he won two Super Bowl Championships and was inducted to the Hall Of Fame in 2004.

Jim Kelly (Getty Images)

Jim Kelly (Getty Images)

With the fourteenth overall pick the Buffalo Bills selected Jim Kelly. Kelly played the season prior in the United States Football League after leaving the University Of Miami. Of the quarterbacks drafted that day Kelly made more Super Bowl appearances than any one else. Kelly lead the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl from 1990 through 1993. Unfortunately the Bills never won any of those Super Bowls. Nonetheless Kelly proved himself to be a great quarterback and was Inducted to the Hall Of Fame in 2002.

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

The final legendary quarterback taken in this draft was Dan Marino. He was projected to go early in the first round but fell back on a lot of teams boards due to reports of him using marijuana in college. The Miami Dolphins were willing to take a chance on this young man with a powerful arm and selected him with the twenty seventh overall pick. Marino played 17 season but only made one trip to the Super Bowl, the Dolphins lost that game to the San Fransisco 49ers. Marino did however finish career holding almost every quarterback record that existed. He was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2005.

An interesting note about this draft is all of the first round quarterbacks went to AFC teams. Also the three half Of Fame quarterbacks all played for only one team during their NFL career.

The Draft is such an intriguing event. Full of Pro Bowlers, Busts and Hall Of Famers. There will probably never be a quarterback class this good again. Some might argue that the 2012 class will stand the test of time but until it does the 1983 Draft will remain the best ever.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson And The 1919 World Series

On October 1, 1919 the World Series began at Redland Field in Cincinnati, OH in front of a crowd of 30,511 fans.  The teams on the field were the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. No one knew that day that what they were witnessing would later beconsidered the most controversial World Series ever.  When the Series was finished on October 9, 1919 the Reds were crowned Champions by winning five games in the best of nine Series.  Baseball fans all over the country were shocked ass the White Sox were considered the best team in baseball by many.  What unfolded in the next 2 years following the 1919 World Series has been chronicled very heavily in the last ninety years.  

In 1920 it became public the that eight players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox team might have intentionally thrown the World Series.  The allegation was that these players had conspired with gamblers to throw the Series in exchange for a payoff of $5,000 each.  The case was later investigated by a Grand Jury to determine what exactly happened and if any criminal acts had been committed.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The most prominent of those eight players was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.  Jackson’s involvement made the story even more interesting.  Jackson is considered one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game.  In his 23 season career he batted .375, collected 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s.  

In 1921 the Grand Jury convinced in Chicago and eventually acquitted all eight players of committing any crime.  Shortly thereafter The Commissioner Of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned all eight players from the game of baseball for life.  Landis logic was even though the players had been acquitted, they left a black eye of the game of baseball and must be thrown out in order to clean up baseball’s image.  Because of this action one of the greatest baseball players ever is not allowed in The National Baseball Hall of Fame, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

His performance during the 1919 World Series was very impressive.  During the eight games Jackson had 12 hits, batted .375 and committed no errors.  He had the most hits and highest batting average of any player on either team.  To think he was involved in the throwing of the world series is unfathomable.  His play told a completely different story, one of a man playing his heart out and trying to help his team win.

The fact that a Grand Jury acquitted the eight players is also a strong statement.  Landis felt like he had to make a statement about the supposed infraction that had occurred.  Landis went too far by banning the players for life and ruining any possibility that these players could be immortalized in the Hall of Fame.  Many baseball fans hold out hope that one day the ban will be lifted by a future Commissioner of Baseball and “Shoeless” Joe will be able to take his place where he deserves to be, the Hall Of Fame.

History Now: Matt Prater Breaks Record For Longest NFL Field Goal

Matt Prater, record holder of longest field goal in NFL history. (Getty Images)

Matt Prater, record holder of longest field goal in NFL history. (Getty Images)

On Sunday the 8th of December, 2013 Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater made NFL history.  He made a 64-yard field goal in the final seconds of the 1st half in the Broncos game against the visiting the Tennessee Titans.  The previous record was held by four players, each with 63-yard field goals.  Those players he beat out for the record today were Tom Dempsey (1970), Jason Elam (1998), Sebastian Janikowski (2011) and David Ackers (2012).  With this field goal Prater becomes just the 13th man to kick a +60-yard field goal in an NFL game.

Sebastian Janikowski
Sebastian Janikowski
Sebastian Janikowski

Babe Ruth’s 500th Home Run

On August 11, 1929 New York Yankee Babe Ruth was the first ever player in Major League Baseball history to hit 500 home runs.  The game took place in Cleveland, OH at League Park VI.  The pitcher that gave up this historic home run was Willis Hudlin of the Cleveland Indians.  Ruth went 2-4 with 2 runs and 1 RBI.  The Yankees would end up losing the game by a score of 6-5.

Babe Ruth ended his career with 714 home runs when he retired in 1935.  His record would stand until Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run in 1974.  Aaron (755) and the current career home run leader Barry Bonds (762) are the only players to surpass Ruth’s record.

In the history of baseball only twenty-five men have hit 500 or more home runs in their career.  Fifteen of those players are in the Baseball Hall Of Fame.  The last player to reach this milestone was Gary Sheffield on April 17, 2009.

Two Wild Card Teams, Too Many!

This past off season Major League baseball did something they had not done since 1994. It changed it’s playoff structure by adding a new element.

Prior to 1995 there were just four teams involved in the post season. There was an Eastern and Western Champion in Both leagues who would play each other for the League Championship. Those two winners would go into the World Series and face off against the opposing leagues Champion. This had been the case since 1969.

The new system was enacted in 1994 but due to the strike shortened season it debuted in 1995.  The system worked with each league having three divisions.  Each division winner would go to the playoffs and the team with the best record that did not win a division would also go to the post season.  There have been five wild card teams that have won a World Series since MLB instituted the wild card.

In November the commissioner of MLB, Bud Selig announced that their would be a second wild card team for each league.  The two wild card teams would play each other in a one game playoff.  The winner will advance to the divisional round of the playoffs and face one of the divisional champions.  All that was added was basically one more game to each leagues playoff.  We will see the first wild card playoff game in less than two weeks from now.

The new system obviously adds something to the final month of the season.  More teams will be in the hunt for the post season with the additional wild card.  Those teams games will also be more exciting down the stretch when MLB can be boring at times.  It will also create a new buzz in the playoffs.  However there is a draw back.

The two wild card teams might actually be pretty far apart records wise.  The second wild card team will be given an opportunity for the playoffs they may not deserve. As of right now you have two teams at the top of the National League wild card race.  The Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals.  The braves lead the Cardinals by 6 games.  If the playoffs were to start today the Cardinals would get a one game playoff opportunity with the Braves they should not have.

This new system seems nice right now but over time it will dilute the MLB post season.  One wild card team per league is just enough.  If you have too many non playoff worthy teams getting a shot in the playoffs it will spell disaster for MLB.  This is just another scheme by Selig to make more money off of the last month of the season and add more money to the post season television deals.  MLB should go back to the four team per league system before the post season become watered down.  As the old adage goes if it is not broke don’t fix it.

NCAA Lays The Smackdown On Penn State Football Program

On Sunday morning the statue of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was taken down and put into storage.  The new school administration figured it was in the best interest in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky trail and Freeh Report to put the  statue away for now.  That did not save the football program from the NCAA’s president Mark Emmert and his wrath.  On Monday morning Emmert announced the punishment that the school would receive for the previous administration knowing and not reporting Sandusky’s criminal acts on minors.

The president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert.
(photo by: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The punishment levied on the school was announced as being unprecedented and it was exactly that.  The school will be fined $60 million, which is about what the football program generates in revenue during a single season.  The football team cannot participate in any conference championships or bowl games for the next 4 years.  The football program will be reduced in the amount of scholarships it can give out in the next 4 years.  Instead of the usual 25 scholarship the number will be reduced to 15.  The players on the football team will be allowed to transfer to other schools without having to sit out a year before being aloud to play again.

The most shocking punishment came down not on the school but their legendary former head coach Joe Paterno.  All of his victories that he received while coaching between the years of 1998-2008 were vacated.  The interesting twist to the punishment is that coach Paterno reached the record and broke the record for most wins by a college coach in 2001.  Paterno will no longer be considered the winningest coach in college football ever again.

Joe Paterno along with the former administration of Penn State led the football program down into the depths.
(photo by: Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

The NCAA really pulled no punches in this announcement.  It was the right decision.  The schools administration and Joe Paterno sat back after they knew what Jerry Sandusky was doing and did nothing about it.  Paterno instead of reporting the allegations he received about Sandusky went to the administrators of the school.  Paterno should have gone to the police, there is no chain of command when criminal acts of this sort are taking place.  The punishment on Paterno is correct and is going to leave the black mark on his legacy that he should have.

As far as the school goes their punishment is deserving as well.  Penn State should consider themselves lucky that they did not receive the “Death Penalty”, like the once great SMU received in the 1980s.  This way the school will at least have the chance to rebuild their legacy.  I think it will be very hard for them to do so.  The football program will  be tarnished forever.  What happened behind the scenes of that school’s football program over the last couple of decades is disgusting.

Sandusky is about to spend life in jail after being found guilty on over 40 charges of child molestation.  Joe Paterno is no longer considered the great man and coach he once was.  The school will have to deal with the results of bad decisions by many people.  This is the new legacy of Penn State football, let it sink in.