A fascinating, well-researched, reasonably-argued article at a top video games site argues that it is time for the Major League Players’ Association to forget if not forgive the last “replacement players” from the 1994-95 forced strike, and grant them participation in the union’s merchandising plan, and allow them, finally, to be simulated in the top baseball video games.
The kotaku.com writer calmly explains what happened to the last five active (of 38 in total) strike-breakers, who eventually reached the majors:
Although replacement players receive pension benefits, are subject to the same rules of free agency and are given representation during salary arbitration, disciplinary hearings or other matters, they are barred from joining the union, cannot vote on its matters and, of course, can’t collect any licensing money.
A few highlights: the Baltimore Orioles had simply suspended operations (Peter Angelos was having nothing to do with replacements). There was some question as to whether or not Cal Ripken’s streak would end if a team called the Baltimore Orioles actually played a game without him because he was on strike. The two-time still-defending World Champion Toronto Blue Jays could not have legally played a game in Canada and were thus to shift to their spring training home in Dunedin, Florida (capacity 5,509). Per the lone surviving, harrowing source document of the time, Stats’ Inc’s Replacement Player Handbook 1995, the Jays’ starting line-up was likely to be:
C: Brad Gay (Class A ball, 1994)
1B: Wes Clements (out of baseball since 1987)
2B: Emmett Robinson (out of baseball since 1986)
SS: Robert Montalvo (utilityman in AAA in 1994)
3B: Warren Sawkiw (in an independent league, 1994)
LF: Trevor Penn (out of baseball since 1990)
CF: Darryl Brinkley (independent leagues, 1994)
RF: Rick Hirtensteiner (AA, 1994)
DH: Brian Brooks (out of baseball since 1990)
SP: Pat Tilman, Brian Ahern, Mike Arner, Pat Blohm
Closer: Steve Sharts (out of baseball since 1990)
Something to do as we contemplate the irony of Aroldis Chapman escaping from Cuba to sign with a team that in the 1950’s had to change its name to the “Cincinnati Redlegs” to avoid somebody mistaking them for communist sympathizers.
Don’t look it up. Try (at least first) to figure it out. I’ll answer it at the end of this first part of the post – and I’m doing it this way to underscore why a malleable attitude towards statistics and Cooperstown is mandatory.
Pitcher Wins Per Season
Bob Gibson 14.76
Gaylord Perry 14.27
Allie Reynolds* 14.00
Tom Glavine* 13.86
Sandy Koufax 13.75
Steve Carlton 13.70
Chief Bender 13.25
Early Wynn 13.04
Bert Blyleven* 13.00
Dizzy Dean 12.50
Dazzy Vance 12.30
NOLAN RYAN 12.00
* not in Hall of Fame
Pitcher Adjusted Wins Per Season “Rump” Seasons
Dizzy Dean 16.50 Three
Sandy Koufax 15.9 Two
Steve Carlton 15.52 Three
Bob Gibson 15.50 One
Allie Reynolds* 15.17 One
Tom Glavine* 15.05 Two
Dazzy Vance 14.92 Three
Gaylord Perry 14.27 One
Early Wynn 14.19 Two
Chief Bender 14.13 One
Bert Blyleven* 13.00 None
NOLAN RYAN 12.76 Two
Hall of Fame
As usual when you research something – however trivial it might be – unsought data turns up. In this case it would include the suggestion that the voters need to reexamine the candidacy of Allie Reynolds. Somebody else interesting turns up in that “adjusted” category – Ron Guidry, at 15.27.
Mark McGwire’s excuse has indeed resonated in some quarters, and I’ve already seen some claims that “Sandy Koufax took steroids – and for the same reason – for his health!”
I was able to get in touch with Jane Leavy to clarify. I asked Ms. Leavy if she meant corticosteroids or if Koufax, a player of the same era that we know steroids and HGH made some small inroads into the game, now had to be lumped in with the “juicers.” Leavy states she meant corticosteroids, the same type of “cortisone injection” that we see performed so often in baseball to this day.
In The New York Times, my friend Rich Sandomir has an extraordinary piece on the arranging of the Costas/McGwire interview, and the rest of yesterday’s ‘limited hang-out,’ as a component of the Mark McGwire Contrition Tour.
The question from Bob Costas, paraphrased: Could you have had those homer-to-at bats ratios, and could you have hit 70 homers in 1998, without steroids:
Bill Skowron is a delightful and generous man, and Gil McDougald was a versatile player and is an inspiring person, and Hank Bauer was an underrated star and a gifted manager. And they’re also on one of baseball’s seemingly most glamorous Top 10 stat lists, while really serving only to prove how misleading stat lists can be.
Category Blyleven John Kaat Roberts
WINS 287 288 283 286
LOSSES 250 231 237 245
ERA 3.31 3.34 3.45 3.41
K 3701 2245 2461 2357
WALKS 1322 1259 1083 902
20 WINS 1 3 3 6
LCS 3-0 4-1 0-1 N/A
WORLD SERIES 2-1 2-1 1-2 0-1
FULL YEARS 22 23 24 19
Do you see any rhyme or reason to this? In Wins, Losses, and ERA, Blyleven and Robin Roberts are virtual matches. Roberts has 420 fewer walks, but Blyleven has 1344 more strikeouts. At the peripherals, Blyleven acquitted himself well on the post-season stages, but Roberts reeled off six 20-win seasons (and consecutively, no less) to the Dutchman’s one.
Category HOF Pitcher Forgotten Pitcher
WINS 224 229
LOSSES 166 172
ERA 3.26 3.30
K 2012 2416
WALKS 954 1104
20 WINS 5 4
LCS 4-3 1-0
WORLD SERIES 5-3 &nb
FULL SEASONS 15 17
Category HOF Pitcher Forgotten Pitcher
WINS 209 209
LOSSES 166 164
ERA 2.95 3.40
K 2486 1728
WALKS 855 858
20 WINS 2 0
LCS N/A 0-0
WORLD SERIES 3-3 N/A
FULL SEASONS 14 16
I met Rory Markas at KNX Radio in Los Angeles in 1989 and by the next year was fortunate enough to have him working for me as my weekend sports anchor and reporter at KCBS-TV downstairs in the same building.