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Thread: The 1994 baseball strike aftermath

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    The 1994 baseball strike aftermath

    I don't mean to pick on Dave F but he said something on a different thread that I have heard from many different sources - the 1994 baseball strike ruined/stained/diminished the game for them. In my observations the degree to which the strike affected one's opinion is proportionate to how big a baseball fan they are (or in some cases even were). I gather that year really really put a hurt on the hardcore fans.

    Do you think the game has changed since the strike? Do you think the sport's reputation or popularity has suffered as a result? Who do you think were the 'Bad Guys' - the greedy owners or greedy players? Do you think any good came of the strike?
    Last edited by Maister; 30 Mar 2010 at 9:20 AM.
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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Interesting side note to the 1994 - 1995 strike - it was Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor who ended the strike when as a federal appeals judge she issued an injunction against the owners stopping them from starting the 1995 season with replacement players.

    As a rabid baseball fan, I'll wait a while before I give my feelings on this event.
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    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    I think the lasting effect of the 1994 baseball strike was to destroy any illusion I had about major league sports being sports, instead of businesses. Baseball is a great game, and I think baseball is just fine. Major League Baseball is not just baseball though. It is also a business, and not immune from the influence of money, greed, and myopia. I'm still a fan of MLB and the other top professional leagues, but do feel differently about them.
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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    My parents jokingly refer to my character when I was a young child as my "Mr. Baseball" years. I was a huge baseball fan. Being from Arlington, I used to watch almost every Texas Rangers game. I used to stand in front of the TV when I was 2-3 year old and swing a toy stick for every pitch. I a member of the Junior Rangers fan club, which came with a lot of free tickets to games, signed birthday cards from the whole team, and an annual meet-the-team-on-the-field event. Some of my earliest memories come from sitting in the crappy and massive outfield bleachers at Arlington Stadium, and I can still vividly remember the advertising board at the stadium. My parents even played a big role volunteering for the committee that kept the Rangers in Arlington and influenced the decision to build the Ranger's current ballpark back in the early 1990s. I had a large baseball card collection that was almost as big as my dad's, and he'd been collecting them since he was a kid.

    And then came the 1994 strike. A 9-10 year old kid doesn't understand the situation in its complexity. I just knew there was no baseball and that it was because people were greedy. I blamed the players because of the way it was described to me (a strike, I was told, was the players action - if it was the owners, it would have been a lockout - which was true, but like I said a simplistic understanding). It felt like a sucker punch to the gut and, as cheesy at it may seem, I mark the event as when I lost my innocence (as far as world outlook). I didn't watch baseball again until the early-mid 2000s out of spite. I even gave my dad my baseball card collection. Naturally (through Murphys law or something), I missed the Rangers' most successful seasons to date because of it. I'm kind of glad I didn't though, in hindsight, because this means I didn't get wrapped up heavily in another let down - the steroid scandal.

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    The strike made me appreciate minor league baseball much more. Once upon a time, I wouldn't trade my annual pilgrimage to St. Louis for anything in the world. Now, I much prefer shelling out $6 to see the local double-A team several times a year. Sure, these guys are mostly in it for the money, too, but at least they're working their butts off trying to impress along the way.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by danthonyjr View post
    The strike made me appreciate minor league baseball much more. Once upon a time, I wouldn't trade my annual pilgrimage to St. Louis for anything in the world. Now, I much prefer shelling out $6 to see the local double-A team several times a year. Sure, these guys are mostly in it for the money, too, but at least they're working their butts off trying to impress along the way.
    I hear you. I've never been a big major league baseball fan and have only seen the Tigers in person a handful of times. My family, however, enjoys watching the local Frontier league games. Being only a 20 minute drive away and with general admission tickets running $6 and $1 beers and hot dogs, that's a pretty good entertainment value. Junior/Mrs. Maister don't appreciate/recognize the difference in the level of play.

    The experience is more like what I imagine MLB was probably like 70 years ago. The kids can easily get access to the players who are happy to sign autographs. Plus they usually have kids participation activities (dizzy izzy, bean bag toss, etc.) on field during the stretch. Fun family entertainment.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by danthonyjr View post
    The strike made me appreciate minor league baseball much more. Once upon a time, I wouldn't trade my annual pilgrimage to St. Louis for anything in the world. Now, I much prefer shelling out $6 to see the local double-A team several times a year. Sure, these guys are mostly in it for the money, too, but at least they're working their butts off trying to impress along the way.
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    I hear you. I've never been a big major league baseball fan and have only seen the Tigers in person a handful of times. My family, however, enjoys watching the local Frontier league games. Being only a 20 minute drive away and with general admission tickets running $6 and $1 beers and hot dogs, that's a pretty good entertainment value. Junior/Mrs. Maister don't appreciate/recognize the difference in the level of play.

    The experience is more like what I imagine MLB was probably like 70 years ago. The kids can easily get access to the players who are happy to sign autographs. Plus they usually have kids participation activities (dizzy izzy, bean bag toss, etc.) on field during the stretch. Fun family entertainment.
    I also enjoy going to MiLB games, and frequented them often when I lived in Oklahoma City and occasionally now visit the Round Rock games. They're good, inexpensive family entertainment, I'll grant you that. I only have two issues with MiLB:
    1. Player turnover is extremely high, both during the season and between seasons. This is fine, and to be expected given the purpose of the whole minor league system. This does, however, create some continuity aspects, though. It's a different team each year, more so than the majors. I'd say more so even than college-level sports, because then you still usually have 2-3, possibly even 4, year cycles.
    2. It's extremely difficult to follow the team through the season unless you go to games a lot [qualifier - this has been my experience and observation; it may not be representative of the whole]. Games are practically never broadcast on TV (some are lucky to even have radio affiliates) and most markets have pretty small or non-existent coverage of the teams in the news.

    So, as far as occasional family nights out, yeah, it's great. Atmosphere is good, it's inexpensive, etc. It just doesn't easily breed fans. People who go are usually fans of the game itself more than the actual team or are looking for a fun night out with the family. This is why [again, my experience] attendance is so much higher on firework night or July 4th games than any other games, including regular weekend games. And while you see this in the majors, too, I think it's far more prevalent with the minors.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    The 1994 strike was really decades in the making, even though a strike also occurred in 1981. MLB has a history of horrible relationships between the owners/Commissioner and the players/union.

    The owners forced the hands of the players in 1994, seeing it as perhaps their last chance to reign in the players and their salaries, similar to the 2004 - 2005 owner lockout in the NHL, but at least the NHL owners had the balls to lock the players out. So yes, I am biased against the owners in this case.

    The players were still pissed off about the collusion that took place from 1985 to 1987, although they were awarded something like $280 million in compensation. Furthering the problem was that the then acting-Commissioner (Bud Selig) was an owner during the collusion years and participated in the collusion. So the person who is supposed to be representing the game's best interest, was involved in screwing over the players a few years earlier.

    The stupid thing is that the 1995 season began under the conditions of the existing contract. A new contract wasn't even agreed to until 1997.

    So yes, for a generation of baseball fans, the strike finally showed that this truly is a business. The best thing that has come out of that strike is that both sides realized that they couldn't pull stupid crap like what happened in 1994/1995. They've now enjoyed the longest stretch of labor peace since collective bargaining was instituted.

    Although it sucked, the 1994 strike did nothing to influence my love of the game. Whenever I forget why I love baseball, I always watch For Love of the Game, cry a little bit, then go on my merry way.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    I am a major baseball fan. Changes occurred for me after the '94 strike. I was already attending the monor league games near home, but had been going to Atlanta 4 or more times a year. In '95 it went down to twice and since then only once a year. I still watch on TV way too much.

    The game got the fans back during the steriod/home run race years and despite Clueless Bud's tinkering has continued to do well. Many teams have been able to continue to mess with fans for more money in network revenues (their own broadcasting networks) and revenue sharing. It is more of a business now.

    I basically stayed with the game, but it seems as though the innocence was lost. Basbeall teams demand new stadiums and get them. They threaten to move, but if you look at the markets, there realistically might only be one place that could support a team and does not have one.

    Both players and owners learned alot from the strike and the resulting CBA is genrous to both sides. Fans - if you want to be fans - have to put up with it. But is sure is nice to go to a college or minor league game and see real baseball. Having said that, I still go to MLB games when I get the chance.

    BTW - Our annual Spirng Training viewing of Bull Durham is this Friday night.
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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I wasn't anywhere near the baseball fan in the 1990s as I am today. I went to quite a few Tiger games with my family and friends when I was growing up, but never really got into it. I moved away from the area and then came back in 2005 when the Tigers were outright awful. Theoretically, that wouldn't be the time that one would become a rabid fan, but I was working in Detroit at the the time and would often be given free tickets to the games and even on evenings (and especially Thursday afternoons) when I didn't have tickets, I would make my way over and buy one. I also found that at the height of their awfulness, if I showed up after the 3rd inning, the gates would occasionally be open with nobody checking for actual tickets. I now make it to about 20 games a season and am slowly becoming a rabid follower of my beloved Tigers!


    Of course, the growth in my love for the Tigers and MLB in general occurred at a rate inversely proportional to the waning of my love for the Detroit Red Wings. I had always been a huge Red Wings fan all through junior high school and high school and even when I moved to Japan and then North Carolina for the late 1990s and early 2000s, I managed to catch games and keep up on what was happening with my Red Wings and the rest of the NHL. Then came the 2004 - 2005 NHL lockout... I lost an entire season of professional hockey right as I was returning to Detroit! Hockeytown! What a waste. So the lowly Tigers stepped in to fill the void.

    Even after the lockout ended and the NHL resumed play the following season and the Red Wings continued to be perennially good, I just don't care nearly any fraction as much as I used to (the Winter Olympics did cause a little spike in my interest though). When the Red Wings made the Stanley Cup finals the last two season, I've probably watched a total of 15 minutes worth of hockey.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    The strike did not affect me very much. I was in high school during the strike. I wanted to see how the 1994 season was going to play out, if Atlanta was going to catch Montreal and if Tony Gwynn was going to hit .400. When baseball came back I watched again, and celebrated the Braves winning their first World Series in Atlanta.

    I have always viewed sports as entertainment. If its not on then I watch something else. Minor league baseball is great and I have watched a lot more college baseball as of late. I am almost used to the ping of the bats.

    I think baseball has been hurt by poor ownership on many franchises and a terrible commissioner; but the sport has propsered in spite of Selig's leadership, not because of it.

    As for cities that could support a MLB team:
    3rd team in NYC
    San Antonio
    Indianapolis
    Charlotte
    Raleigh
    Memphis

    are a few locations off the top of my head. I think Vegas could as well but there is no way MLB would allow that.
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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I was working on a major software project as a contractor in the Awl Bidness here in Dallas. Ten to sixteen hour days, 7 days a week didn't allow much time for baseball anyway. The pay was great but it took years off my life.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Cyburbian Dave F's avatar
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    Wow, I started two threads

    I hadn't been paying attention to the boards when this blew up and eventually branched off to the team location thread, but I wanted to expand upon my original point.

    For me, the most notable consequence of the 1994 strike was that within a few years after the strike ended, we got into the current situation where several teams seemed to be structurally eliminated from competing before the season began each year. Now, it is almost as if the World Series is the Yankees' or the Red Sox's to lose every year, when in the past things had been much more competitive. We have also seen several teams put up huge strings of consecutive losing seasons, not just the Royals, but also the Orioles, Pirates and until recently the Devil Rays and Rockies.

    While in the NFL we can have a publicly-owned team from a small city in WI be competitive, in the MLB major metro areas such as Philly, Minneapolis and Denver are "small markets," and seen as lacking in resources. The occasional success of MIN and OAK is basically the exception that proves the rule, especially since the A's were known for getting results on the cheap.

    As the game has gotten structurally imbalanced, coverage of the game has gotten "winner take all" as well,with nearly every ESPN and FOX game being some combination of NY, BOS, CHI or PHI teams the whole season. I used to love following the game when it seemed like the whole league was covered, not just the privileged few with the piles of money.

    So, yes, my experience as a fan has been much different since 1994.

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dave F View post

    For me, the most notable consequence of the 1994 strike was that within a few years after the strike ended, we got into the current situation where several teams seemed to be structurally eliminated from competing before the season began each year. Now, it is almost as if the World Series is the Yankees' or the Red Sox's to lose every year, when in the past things had been much more competitive. We have also seen several teams put up huge strings of consecutive losing seasons, not just the Royals, but also the Orioles, Pirates and until recently the Devil Rays and Rockies.

    ...

    As the game has gotten structurally imbalanced, coverage of the game has gotten "winner take all" as well,with nearly every ESPN and FOX game being some combination of NY, BOS, CHI or PHI teams the whole season. I used to love following the game when it seemed like the whole league was covered, not just the privileged few with the piles of money.

    So, yes, my experience as a fan has been much different since 1994.
    That sums it up for me as well. The greed of the strike sent my family away from baseball. The eventual results, with just a handful of teams becoming dominant and the disappearance of regional baseball televised in favor of the 'winner-take-all' approach to who gets on TV, is what has kept me away. Like TexanOkie, I'm thankful that this saved me a lot of the disappointment of the steroid scandal.

    I maintain my happy memories of trips to the Astrodome with Dad, but they remain that--memories. I'll go catch a AA game in San Antonio periodically, but I've decided the spend far less money to watch the more enjoyable college games at Texas State University. I get better seats, save some money, contribute to my alma mater, and get to watch players actually enjoy the game.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    The 94 strike didn't really phase me. I'm a life long Cubs fan For that matter, the steroids scandal didn't bother me. Baseball is business venture from both sides. Both sides will seek to maximize their profits, no biggie. Further, baseball had scandals in the past-the infamous Black Sox- and survived.

    Baseball is my sport. Hockey is too much like WWE on ice. Pro basketball has too much show boating. Football is ok, but I tend to lose interest after a while during a game.

    I've seen games from the major league level down to college ball and enjoyed every game I've seen. This summer, after Upward lets out, I plan on seeing at least 2 minor league games down here. I'd see games at Atlanta and Houston, but they are too far away for me.

    The movies Bull Durham and Field of Dreams still speak to something deep inside of me. One of the best part-time jobs I ever had was ushering for single A team. I got paid to watch games. I was even one of the tarp guys. So, the 94 strike didn't bother me. I think both sides won something and both sides lost something. America moved on and the love of game continues.
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    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    A re-post since my original response was moved to the franchise relocation thread...

    My beloved Braves were too good during the 90s for me to be turned off to baseball.

    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    I wanted to see how the 1994 season was going to play out, if Atlanta was going to catch Montreal and if Tony Gwynn was going to hit .400.
    Yeah...best chance the Expos ever had to make a run at a World Series title...and a good showing in the playoffs could have increased their revenue stream and allowed them to keep more of their good players. That franchise still hasn't recovered.
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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    As opposed to the 1994 strike, I think the exponential rise of the NFL during the 1980s and 1990s has had more to do with the seemingly overall decline of interest in MLB. I have heard some argue (and I tend to agree with them) that the NFL is the new "national pastime", when you look how big of an even the Super Bowl has become, combined with the growing popularity of fantasy football.
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    As opposed to the 1994 strike, I think the exponential rise of the NFL during the 1980s and 1990s has had more to do with the seemingly overall decline of interest in MLB. I have heard some argue (and I tend to agree with them) that the NFL is the new "national pastime", when you look how big of an even the Super Bowl has become, combined with the growing popularity of fantasy football.
    You may have missed the thread, but we actually discussed that very thing a few months ago.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  19. #19
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    You may have missed the thread, but we actually discussed that very thing a few months ago.
    Ah yes...it seems I actually posted in that thread that I thought it was ridiculous that people think baseball is in a demise. I still do, but think that the NFL has just grown that much larger. If that makes any sense.
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dave F View post
    As the game has gotten structurally imbalanced, coverage of the game has gotten "winner take all" as well,with nearly every ESPN and FOX game being some combination of NY, BOS, CHI or PHI teams the whole season.
    As a White Sox fan in Phoenix, it seems there are only a handful of teams that ESPN is aware of: Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees. I would throw the Phillies in there, but that's only due to recent success.

    Quote Originally posted by Bubba View post
    Yeah...best chance the Expos ever had to make a run at a World Series title...and a good showing in the playoffs could have increased their revenue stream and allowed them to keep more of their good players. That franchise still hasn't recovered.
    I was planning on an Expos/White Sox world series.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    ...it seems there are only a handful of teams that ESPN is aware of: Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees. I would throw the Phillies in there, but that's only due to recent success.
    I agree with that, and with SR's comments earlier. It's even hard to watch a Rangers game in Austin. Even though Austin is roughly 3 hours from both DFW and Houston, and the fact that the Rangers market themselves as a Texas team as opposed to a specific city's team, the local FSN station plays Astros games about 3:1 over Rangers games. I'm not sure if that's due to more Astros successes or that the Astros were created 10 years before the Rangers.

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