Tag Archives: world series

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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“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.

Babe Ruth: Hall Of Fame Pitcher?

Babe Ruth is by far the greatest Icon in American sports history.  Some would even argue he is the greatest American Icon period.  Everyone from Grandma to your 5 year old niece or nephew knows who Babe Ruth was.  Most people associate Ruth with his legendary slugging days with the New York Yankees.  Ruth even held the Home Run record in Major League Baseball until Hank Aaron broke that record in the 1970’s.  What many people don’t know is that Ruth had a history before the all of those home runs and before the Yankees.

Babe Ruth while he was with the Boston Red. Getty Images

Babe Ruth while he was with the Boston Red. Getty Images

Babe Ruth made his Major League debut on July 11th, 1914 for the Boston Red Sox.  Ruth won that game; it was the beginning of Ruth’s pitching career.  His pitching career spanned from 1914-1919, all of those seasons with the Boston Red Sox.  Ruth did however pitch 5 games with the Yankees years later and won all 5.  He made the starting rotation for the Sox in 1915 and won 18 games in his first full season.   Ruth started batting in the lineup when not pitching halfway through his time with the Sox.  He had signs of being a great offensive player but was still used primarily as a pitcher.
He went on to have a very respectable pitching career.  He helped pitch the Red Sox to 3 World Series Championships in just 6 seasons.  When Ruth retired he had 94 career wins and a career ERA of 2.28 with 488 strikeouts.  Babe Ruth would be sold to the Yankees in a deal that changed the face of American Sports history.
The Yankees played Babe Ruth in the Outfield and all but ended his pitching career.  There are many people who feel that Ruth could have gone into the Hall Of Fame based on his pitching stats alone.  There is no arguing that Ruth was a great pitcher, but his time in that position pales in comparison to his slugging years.
It really makes you wonder how American Sports would be different if Babe Ruth had not gone to the Yankees and become a baseball hero.  The fact of the matter is as big of an icon Ruth became there would have been no way he would have become so without his years with the Yankees.  The Yankees gave him a grand stage and opportunity to become the Icon he became.  They also surrounded him with other legendary players.

It should not be forgotten just how great Babe Ruth was as an all around baseball player.  While not the most athletic player to grace a baseball field, he was by far the most dynamic.  Ruth was and forever will be America’s first sports legend.

The MLB Playoffs Are Quickly Approaching

The long baseball season is nearing its end.  The summer is coming to an end and the Fall season is about to start.  With it will come the Major League Baseball Playoffs.  The first games of the playoffs start next weekend.  So let’s take a look at what teams are approaching the playoffs in this final week of the season.

The American League

The interesting note of the week is that no A.L. teams have clinched a playoff spot yet.  It has been a tight race for all of the divisional spots and especially for the two Wild Card spots.

East

In the East there is great competition between the division leading New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles.  The Yankees only lead that division by one game with the Rays in third place by only 5 games.

Central

The Central division has seen the Chicago White Sox fall quite a bit in the past week.  The White Sox are trailing the Detroit Tigers in the division by one game.  The third place team in the division is held by the Kansas City Royals who are fourteen games behind and have no hope for the playoffs.

West

The Western division has just as tight of a race as the Eastern division.  The Texas Rangers hold the top position with a record of 92-65.  The Oakland A’s have been surging ahead in the final month of the season and are only three games behind the Rangers.  In third place five games behind the Rangers are the Anaheim Angels. The Angels got off to a bad start at the beginning of the season but were able to turn their season around in the summer months.

Wild Card

Only six games separate the top five teams in the Wild Card race.  The Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland A’s are in the top spots.  The Angels are two games back.  The Rays are three games back, while the White Sox are six games back and will likely only be able to enter the playoffs with winning the Central division.

The National League

The almost half of the playoff spots in the N.L. have been claimed.  All but one of the divisions have champions already, which takes some of the excitement away.

East

This is the only division where a champion has not yet been crowned.  With the third place team the Phillies seventeen games back, its between only the Braves and the Nationals for the crown.  The Nationals have shocked the baseball world with an incredible season and they currently hold the top spot.  The braves are trailing by four games and still have a chance at winning the division.  Both the Nationals and Braves have clinched playoff spots.  The only question is which one will be the division champion and which one will be in the wild card position.

Central

The Cincinnati Reds won the division this past week.  They appear to be a team that could contend for the World Series Title in October.

West

The San Fransisco Giants won the division championship just a few days ago.  This team has been a great team built for the playoffs for a few years now.  The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and are looking to win their second in three years.

Wild Card

With the Braves having clinched a playoff birth there is only one wild card spot remaining.  The St Louis Cardinals hold the remaining spot at the moment.  The Dodgers and the Brewers are the only two teams that still have a chance for the remaining wild card.  The Dodgers are three games back while the Brewers are five back.  The Dodgers have been turning downward as September rolls along.  The Brewers have to win their remaining five games to have a chance.  The Cardinals will likely hold their position and go into a wild card playoff game with the Braves.

 

 

 

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.

Cleveland Sports “The Heartbreaking History”

My friend George, who is the biggest Browns fan I know came to me with an idea for an article.  The idea was to cover the negative history of sports teams in Cleveland.  I took that Idea and turned it into what you are about to read.  George, this is for you brother!

Cleveland has a history of bad luck and heartbreaking defeats when it comes to its sports franchises.  From the “Fumble” to Lebron’s “Decision”.  There have also been some incredible times for Cleveland’s sports franchises, however the bad far out way the good.  Cleveland is a city that loves it’s sports, unfortunately sports gods do not care for Cleveland very much.  I am going to take you on a trip through the history of Cleveland sports.  So sit back, relax and revel in Cleveland’s sorrows.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Michael Jordan celebrating the “Shot”
(Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavs have had many Horrible season.  The team has held the franchise record for most loses in a season with 67, twice.  The first came in their inaugural season of 1970-71 and the second  during the 1981-82 season.   The team made a strong run in 1989 only to fall hard to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  The game became known for the “Shot”, it was the final game in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  The moment was considered one of the greatest clutch moments in the history of Michael Jordan’s career.  It was one of the worst moments in history of the Cavileers.  The Cavs have never won an NBA Title, not even with the great Lebron James.  The team has only made one trip to the NBA Finals, in 2007 the Cavs were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.  The City has Lebron James to blame for one of their many horrible moments.  In 2010 Lebron had an ESPN special live from a Boys and Girls Club in his home town of Akron, Oh.  Many thought because of the location he would be announcing that he would be staying in Cleveland.  He instead announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat.  That infamous broadcast is known as the “Decision” The City was in an uproar and Lebron jerseys were quickly being thrown away and even burned in the streets of the City who’s heart he broke.  The team followed up the “Decision” with one of the worst seasons in the history of the NBA.  The team lost a record tying 26 games in a row in the 2010-11 season.  The Cavs are 2 years removed from that fateful night and have never been able to get over it.  The team may be destined to dwell in the sadness that is Cleveland sports forever.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians lose to the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series
(Getty Images)

The Indians are one of the teams that have been successful at times but have had more bad seasons than good ones.  The team has two World Series Championships.  The first came in 1920 and the most recent was back in 1948.  The Indians have added to the cities history of heartbreak over the years.   From 1960-1993 the team never made the playoffs and spent most of their seasons in last place.  In 1995 the Indians were one of the best teams in the MLB, until they made it to the World Series and lost to the Braves in 6 games.  The team made another trip to the World Series in 1997.  The tribe lost the series to the Florida Marlins in a devastating late inning Game 7 affair in Miami.  The team has been through countless rebuilding periods, all with no success.  The team was even featured as lovable losers and misfits in the major motion picture “Major League”.  The Indians are only second to one other team in the city of heart break, The Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns Earnest Byner seconds after the “Fumble”
(Getty Images)

The city’s most devastating stories and moments have come from their football team, the Browns.  The team had early success in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The Hall Of Fame Quarterback Otto Graham led the team to ten straight championship games with the Browns winning 7 of them.  The team found great success with Hall Of Fame running back Jim Brown.  Brown played with the team in the 60’s and 70’s and established himself as one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL.  The 1980’s brought the team some success. Led by their young quarterback Bernie Kosar, the team made it to the AFC Championship game twice.  Both meetings were against the rival Denver Broncos and their superstar QB John Elway.  The first of those championship meetings came in the 1986 AFC Championship game.  The Browns were leading the Broncos and had them pinned down on their own 2 yard line with 5 minutes and 11 seconds to play.  John Elway was about to show the world that he was one of the best of that era with the “Drive”.  Elway led his team all of the way down the field to score a touchdown and tie the game at 20-20.  The damage had been done and Cleveland lost the game 23-20 in overtime.  The “Drive” took place in Cleveland but that wasn’t the last quotable game to take place at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.  In the 1987 AFC Championship Game the Broncos came into town again.  This time the Browns dominated the Broncos for most of the game and looked to be the AFC Champions.  Then the unthinkable happened again, this moment was to be known as the “Fumble”.   With the game tied 30-30 Kosar and the Browns were on the Broncos 8 yard line with 1 minute and 12 seconds left on the clock.  Kosar took the snap and handed the ball off to running back Earnest Byner for what looked like and open touchdown run.  Out of nowhere came the Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille who stripped Byner of the ball. The Broncos took the intentional safety and ended up scoring a touchdown with less than a minute to play in the game.  The Broncos defeated the Browns by a score of 38-33.  The city of Cleveland has never fully recovered from the “Drive” or the “Fumble”.  In 1995 The Browns played their final game in Cleveland before owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore to become the Ravens.  Modell claimed that he moved the team because he was losing money and could not keep the team the city without a new stadium.  He petitioned for a new stadium for years and saw a new ballpark go up and a new arena be constructed while he was left without tax payer support and a dilapidated stadium.  The Browns would return in 1999 as an expansion team but still had rights to the history of the team unlike other cities who lost their teams and history like Houston.  The “new” Browns have only made it to the playoffs once.  There was hope for the team with new ownership to turn things around in 2012.  The Browns were shut out of the playoffs for another season this year.

All of Cleveland’s major sports teams have gone through hardships. The Browns are by far Cleveland’s most heartbreaking team with a history that will not let the fans of Cleveland rest easy.  Any time something goes well for any of their teams disappointment is sure to follow.  Maybe one day the sports gods will treat the great fans of Cleveland to some success and happiness.

*UPDATE*

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to become NBA Champions for the first time in their history.  They also ended the decades long championship drought for the city of Cleveland.  This event was aided by LeBron James returning to Cleveland in 2014.

Andrew McCutchen, Best Bet For N.L. MVP

The Pirates have been changing the perception of their team this year.  After years of dwelling in the cellar of the National Leagues Central Division they seem to have turned things around.  The team currently holds a record of 51 wins and 40 loses and are tied for first in the division with the Cincinnati Reds.  Both teams hold a 5 game advantage over the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.  Superb pitching has a lot to do with their success but beyond the pitching is the incredible play of Andrew McCutchen.

The Pirates Andrew McCutchen is having an MVP caliber season heading into August.
(Getty Images)

McCutchen is having a great year and has shown himself to be the team leader.  He has the best batting average in both leagues batting .369 after 87 games played.  He also has 22 home runs, 65 RBI’s, 65 runs and 14 stolen bases.  Producing many walk off game winners and with the lowly Pirates not looking so low combined with his stats shows that he is in the running and possibly the lead to win the National League MVP trophy this year.

McCutchen was drafted by the Pirate in the 1st round of the 2005 draft with the 11th overall pick.  He is in prime position to turn this franchise around for good and be recognized as one of the best baseball players around.  He has added excitement to a team that had nothing to get excited about since Barry Bonds left after the 1992 season.  He has had a few good seasons already but none as dominant as he has been this season.  The fact that the Pirates are in 1st place in late July is amazing in its own right.  The city of Pittsburgh could be transferred from a football city into to a baseball city in just a matter of a couple more years.

The Pirates have a lot to prove still.  Can they make the playoffs for the first time since the early 90’s?  Can they advance in the playoffs?  Can they continue to be a good team year in and year out?  All of those questions ride on the play of McCutchen.  If McCutchen continues this run he will be the N.L. batting champion and should be the N.L. MVP.  Recognition of that level would be incredible for the Pirates franchise.   So if you have not been following this player or this team its time to open your eyes and believe what you are seeing,  its true the Pirates are for real and they have one of baseballs best rising stars.