Posted tagged ‘money’

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

Damn! I was selfishly hoping the Blue Jays wouldn’t trade Russell Martin

January 14, 2019

I know that’s ridiculous; possibly idiotic. But part of me was hoping Russell would be kept for the sole purpose of mentoring Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire; similar to the role Curtis Granderson played in 2018.

Of course, that would be a very expensive mentor. Given that Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins are scorching the Earth as part of the rebuilding process, it makes sense to get something in return for Martin. After all, the Jays are paying his salary, despite the trade. I’m sure the front office also doesn’t want a repeat of the Josh Donaldson saga. Martin probably wants to actually play as well.

I have no interest in the numbers. That’s for the insiders, pundits and professional bloggers to crunch. When I think of Russell Martin, the first words that come to mind are confidence and professionalism.

Sitting in the left field seats gave me the opportunity to watch him prepare for a match. I was transfixed by him running from the dugout to the outfield in full catching gear. He’d go through his drills before working with that day’s starter. It’s hard to articulate, but I never had to worry about what was happening behind the plate.

I spent the last few days thinking of my favourite Russell Martin memories. That homerun against the Yankees in late 2015 will probably be his defining moment with the team.

It was Yom Kippur that day. My family and I were breaking our fast at a relative’s house. Normally, we’d sit around the living room chatting. Not this time.

The majority of us gathered in front of the TV. The atmosphere was incredibly tense; but when Russell connected, we all exploded in jubilation! Of course, we weren’t the only ones: “RUSSELL! RUSSELL! RUSSELL! RUSSELL!”

Other moments come to mind:

– The errant throw in game five of the 2015 ALDS that almost flushed a magical season down the toilet; followed by his thanking the heavens for Jose Bautista’s iconic bat flip homerun.

– The hot streak he went on in August 2016 when the rest of the team was struggling.

– Game three of the 2016 ALDS; a first inning dinger, followed by the fielder’s choice that ultimately led to the Donaldson Dash.

Now his career has come full circle as he heads back to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He deserves a chance to play for a contender. Hopefully, he’ll help L.A. finally get over that hump. Having a chance to catch Clayton Kershaw is also a nice bonus.

Maybe it was his connection to Ontario and Quebec. Maybe it was because he’s just a few weeks older than me. Maybe it was using “Courage” as one of his walk-up songs. I’m just thrilled Russell Martin spent four seasons with the Jays. Worth every penny; even the ones that will cover his 2019 season.

ER

Troy Tulowitzki was the turning point and worth every penny, gosh darn it!

December 11, 2018

So I wasn’t surprised Tulo was released. Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins are forging their own path, even if it means scorched earth and paying a 34-year-old $38 million over the next few seasons to not show up to Dunedin.

Whatever. I’d still pull the trigger on that trade.

Tulo’s arrival midway through 2015 – along with David Price’s arrival a few days later – was the turning point. His mere presence gave the Jays an incredible boost. Before the trade, the team was hanging by a thread. Tulo put on the uniform and that Jays team took off like a rocket!

Not going to get into his numbers or the injuries. I’m perfectly content with the 2015-16 playoff banners and the memories.

If you’re into the whole “what has he done latley” argument, that’s cool. You’re entitled to feel that way. I just prefer to put more heart and emotion into my fandom.

Thank you, Tulo.

ER

Episode 70: Bagged Milk and Contract Extensions

July 21, 2016

J.A. Happ opens up, Justin Smoak’s new contract has fans scratching their heads and the rotation has much to debate about.

Ian Hunter – aka The Blue Jay Hunter – stops by to discuss these things and more.

Episode 70 Direct MP3 Download

…or…

Hey! Why is everyone getting worked up about Joey Bats, contract negotiations, money and 2017????

February 25, 2016

Is it just me or is anyone else bothered with how some fans and media are focusing so much on what could/might happen next season when the current one hasn’t even started yet? Why stress out about the 2017 roster when the 2016 version is right in front of us and provides the opportunity to savour a lineup that includes Jose Bautista?

The Blue Jays should seriously consider hosting “Eckhart Tolle Day” at the Skydome this year. Maybe the team can even invite Tolle to throw out the first pitch to Josh Thole.

Much has been said about Joey Bats’ stance on negotiations, hometown discounts and alleged financial demands. And of course, this storyline is full of speculation and conclusion jumping. It reminds me of Chris Bosh’s final season with the Raptors.

Any smart Raptor fan knew if the team was heading in the wrong direction – and they were – the hard-working Bosh would sign elsewhere when his contract expired. At first, I wasn’t warm to the notion, but eventually made peace with it. So when CB4 chose the Miami Heat, I had nothing but admiration and respect for him. The same goes for Joey Bats.

I am eternally grateful for everything Bautista has done for the Blue Jays. Witnessing his rise from no-name utility player to All-Star slugger is something I will always cherish. If he and the Jays can work something out, that would be wonderful! If things don’t work out and he chooses to play for another team, that’s fine too. I’m okay with it.

Granted, I would prefer it if he didn’t sign with Boston or the Yankees. Personally, I’d rather see him play for a team in California or the Miami Marlins. However, if he chooses the Red Sox or Yanks, so be it.

It’s important to remember that Bautista – along with AA – is the epicentre of this current chapter in Blue Jays history. He was the shinning star when things were bleak and has excelled on the field. He also helped guide this team back to the promised land, culminating in a championship banner and hopefully, a couple more. Bautista has earned the right to choose how his contract is negotiated and its financial worth. Fans should/must respect that right, even if that means an unfavourable outcome.

But all of that is not important right now!!!

The 2016 season should be the sole focus. Worrying about what will happen after the 2016 season is pointless. So let’s give our attention to what’s in front of us and enjoy it. Let’s deal with the future when it’s appropriate; say, November.

Never has the expression “cross the bridge when we get there” been more prevalent for Blue Jay fans than now.

ER


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