In the Shadow of the Strike


February 7, 2013 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Hyperbole aside, the 1994 MLB work stoppage was the worst thing that ever could and ever has happened to baseball.  But what most people don’t know is that even today some 20 years later, the players, owner, executives, and fans are still living in the shadow of the strike.  Everyone who experienced it is still terrified of another cancellation of the World Series.  That’s why CBA are now done a few years ahead of time, and in a fairly short span of time.  Because of the severity of the strike everyone involved has done everything in their power to make sure that there isn’t another work stoppage.  And when you look at the NHL, having two strikes within ten years, and the NBA, two lockout shortened seasons in the span of thirteen years, you really appreciate what the MLB has done in order to prevent another work stoppage.

However, in trying to recover from the strike, the MLB allowed another devastating situation to enter the league: PED’s.  The strike of 1994 is the reason why steroids were allowed to fester in the league.  And make no mistake they were allowed, if not silently condoned.  Guys were juicing up before the strike no doubt, but it was because of all the home runs that these juicers like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Ken Caminiti, and Rafael Palmiero were hitting that put asses back in the seats of MLB stadiums.

To put it bluntly the effects of steroids did indeed help the MLB recover fans and its reputation following the strike.  But in doing so, commissioner Bud Selig had tied his hands behind his back in that he could clean up the league (if he even wanted to) for fear that diminished home run totals would lead to a drop in overall league attendance.  Even though he should have done a better job of handling the situation, Selig did everything he should have done to restore the image of the MLB to what it was before the strike.  The whole point of having a commissioner isn’t solely to watch over the league, but to make sure that it’s relevant.  And so if home runs helped to bring people back to the stadiums after they had sworn off baseball, then by God, the MLB wasn’t going to investigate where they were coming from.

However, things got out of control.  There came a point in time (2006) where baseball didn’t need home runs to entertain anymore.  Your average fan forgot about the devastation of the strike and loved baseball again.  This is where the problem arises, because steroids were still in rampant use, because guys knew they could do it and not get in trouble, as was precedent.  You didn’t need guys to hit 50 home runs a year for baseball to matter anymore.  And quite frankly people got sick of the slugfests.  Baseball isn’t the NBA; it’s a game of patience and precision.

Because the PED problem never got settled when it should have, it blew up out of control.  That’s why we have this whole situation with this Bosch dildo down in Florida running his “Anti-Aging Clinic”.  Had the MLB cracked down on PED’s when they should have, this current mess involving several big name players wouldn’t have occurred.  What this current situation tells us is that the steroid-era might not be as over as we’d like to pretend it is.  And it’s unfortunate, it really is.  Here we are thinking that the worst is behind us, but stars like Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz are rumored to be using PED’s.[1]  Again, this is a result of the fact that the MLB never did anything to stop the widespread use of PED’s because that would cut down on the home run rate, which was the best weapon the MLB had to bring fans back into the fold following the strike.[2]

The strike of 1994 was a severely dire and bleak situation for baseball, and to make sure that it wouldn’t happen in the foreseeable future, those in charge signed off for the current steroid situation by not doing anything when they should have.  Are PED’s good for baseball?  Absolutely not.  Was there a time when the use of PED’s served to help the MLB?  Yes.  I really can’t pass judgment on Selig and Co. because it was a catch-22, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  It’s not like he gave players steroids, he just didn’t prosecute them when he should have.  Ideally steroids should have no place in baseball, or sports for that matter, but back in the mid-90s baseball was not in an ideal place.  Now though, because everyone was content to let one problem (PED’s) solve another (fan outrage at the strike), the MLB has a gigantic hurdle to tackle in the form of PED’s.  If our biggest stars are still abusing steroids maybe we’re not as far away from that summer of 1998 as we’d like to think we are.

[1] I haven’t mentioned A-Rod because I am a staunch Yankee fan that would like nothing more than to see him retire tomorrow.

[2] Well home runs and the Yankees winning all those championships.  Just like the NBA needs the Lakers and Celtics in order to survive, so does the MLB need the Yankees to survive.  There is no way anyone can dispute this.


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