Aug. 12, 1994: The seven worst things about the MLB strike
The 1994 Major League Baseball strike started on Aug. 12, 1994, and 25 years later the effects of the work stoppage have not been forgotten. There was no World Series that year, and baseball fans had to wait until April 25, 1995, for meaningful baseball. It’s looking back at what could have been that hurts most when breaking down what the 1994 strike took away. MORE: Watch live MLB games all season long on fuboTV (7-day free trial)Here are the seven worst things about it. Home run chase cut shortRoger Maris held the single-season record with 61 homers at that point, but San Francisco’s Matt Willilams (43) and Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. (40) were making an honest run at the record. Williams was on pace for 62 home runs, and Griffey was on pace for 58 — which would have been a career high for the Hall of Fame slugger. Griffey had cooled off with eight homers in July and August, but Williams was still on a consistent pace with 14 homers through those two months. Maddux’s ERA would be even better Greg Maddux was 16-6 with a 1.56 ERA through 25 starts at that point in the season. The only two pitchers who had a lower ERA in a single season since 1919 were Bob Gibson at 1.12 in 1968 and Dwight Gooden at 1.53 in 1985. Maddux would post a 1.63 ERA in 1995 as part of an incredible two-year run. Gwynn’s pursuit of .400 cut shortTony Gwynn won eight batting titles, but it was the 1994 season when he made a run at becoming the first person since Ted Williams to hit .400. Gwynn was trending upward, too, with a .423 average over 28 games after the All-Star break and a .475 average in 10 August games. Gwynn, Todd Helton and Ichiro Suzuki are tied for the highest single-season average since 1994 at .372. Thrilling pennant races diedThe White Sox had a one-game lead on the Indians in the AL Central. The Rangers were up one game on the Athletics in the AL West. The Reds and Astros were separated by a half-game in the NL Central and the Giants were within 3.5 games of the Dodgers in the NL West. Compare that to this year, where the AL Central and NL Central are the only divisions where the gap is fewer than 6.5 games. The Yankees’ dynasty was alteredThe Yankees — led by manager Buck Showalter — had the best record in American League at 70-43. Paul O’Neill led the AL in batting average (.359). Jimmy Key led the majors with 17 wins. The Yankees would lose the ALDS the following season, and Joe Torre replaced Showalter in 1996. The rest is history, but it might have been different had 1994 played out. The Montreal Expos, of course Everybody knows this one by now. The Expos had the best record in baseball at 74-40. Felipe Alou had a loaded team that featured Larry Walker, Cliff Floyd, Moises Alou and Marquis Grissom at the plate and a rotation led by Ken Hill and Pedro Martinez. John Wetteland closed the door. The Expos, however, never got a chance to make their first World Series. Montreal never finished higher than second in the NL East after the strike before moving to Washington in 2005. The damage still lingersBaseball’s reputation took a huge hit. Not playing the World Series had a devastating long-term effect on the sport. The seeds for the Steroid Era were planted, and stars such as Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens are not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The last World Series to clear a 20 in average Nielsen Rating was in 1992. The sport continues to have debates about unwritten rules and is dealing with attendance issues. In 2018, attendance dipped below 70 million for the first time since 2003.