Posted tagged ‘cancelled’

That’s right, my fellow Xennials. It’s been 25 years since the 1994 Players’ Strike

August 27, 2019

We’re in the midst of a very grim anniversary.

25 years ago, a work stoppage hit Major League Baseball and it literally fucked up everything.

The players and owners were at war, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Fans were nothing more the collateral damage.

It was an ugly time.

If you lived in Toronto and loved sports, the fall of 1994 was brutal.

Along with the baseball strike, the NHL was going through a lockout. The Raptors existed, but were a year away from their expansion season. The Argos struggled for attention – much like today, unfortunately – but managed to make the playoffs, despite a 7-11 record. They lost the East Semi-Final to the Baltimore Colts CFLers/soon-to-be Stallions.

Other attempts were made to fill the void.

The Fan 1430 – now known as Sportsnet 590 – would air minor league contests and classic World Series games. They even hooked up with a software company that could generate “live” matches involving teams from different eras and seasons. I can remember the ’61 Yankees battling the ’92 Jays; the ’81 Expos taking on the ’85 Jays. Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth were actually doing play-by-play of these games.

Things were worse in Montreal.

The ’94 Expos were the biggest casualty of the strike. They would’ve/could’ve won it all. Instead, it was the beginning of the end.

A lot changed because of the strike. None of it was positive. To an 11-year-old scrawny kid, it was jarring.

Suddenly, nobody liked baseball. Suddenly, baseball was boring. Suddenly, people started to care about the salaries of athletes and were outraged by them. Suddenly, nobody wanted to watch the Blue Jays or purchase tickets. Suddenly, the stadium was half-full. Suddenly, Skydome wasn’t impressive anymore.

It all came crashing down.

In a short and alarming amount of time, the Jays lost all their popularity.

It was a perfect storm: The ugly strike that cancels the World Series, followed by a last place finish in 1995. All the joy and glory was gone and no matter what the Jays did on or off the field, they couldn’t bring it back.

It wasn’t easy being a Jays/baseball fan in the mid-90s. It was a lonely experience. The sport and the team were scoffed at. Say what you want about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa; what they did in 1998 was a much-needed boost.

The silver lining from this dark chapter: There hasn’t been a work stoppage since. However, I’m concerned that two-plus decades of relative labour peace are now threatened.

During a recent segment on Prime Time Sports, Jeff Blair and Richard Dietsch argued there wouldn’t be another strike like ’94 because neither side would want to negatively affect the lucrative television revenue.

I’m not so convinced.

The players are pissed and I don’t blame them. Needing at least six seasons of service time before they can achieve their true market value is a heavy requirement. Adding to the challenge are front offices evaluating a player’s worth based on what they’re projected to do, rather than their resume.

It’s scary because the Jays are (hopefully) building towards something successful and sustainable. A strike would seriously hinder that.

The current CBA has a couple more years before it’s up for renewal. Things could get intense, especially with the precense of social media. There will be a lot of spin and cryptic messaging from both sides.

It’s said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I’m praying the players and owners consider what happened in 1994 as they strategize.

Neither side can afford a work stoppage. The carnage would be devastating. Much worse than what happened 25 years ago.

ER


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