Sunday, August 11, 2013

The 1994 Season Ends

19 years ago today, the 1994 CFCL season came to the end.

MLB’s Acting Commissioner Bud Selig and his band of merry owners had tried to implement a salary cap on the game, and the Players’ Association and their leader, Don Fehr, were having none of it. After playing the first four months of the 1994 season without a collective bargaining agreement in place (the previous one had expired at the end of 1993), the players set a strike date of August 12.

When that date arrived and an agreement still was not in place, the players walked out on the season, making August 11 the final day of the MLB – and CFCL – season.

Of course we didn’t know on the 11th that the season was over … there was still theoretically the chance that the players and owners would resolve their issues and resume the season. It wasn’t until September that, with the strike still unresolved, the disgraced Selig announced that the remainder of the season and the post-season was cancelled.

The final CFCL standings report issued in 1994 states that it covers the period through August 15, but since there were no games played on the August 12-15, for all intents and purposes the season was over as of August 11.

The first acknowledgement of a possibly shortened CFCL season came in the Roster Change report for August 2 – actually in a hand-written note that I had appended to the typewritten report. The note just mentions the possibility of a season-ending strike on August 12, but then goes on to examine the standings for the week, which had tightened considerably. In that week’s standing report, Da Paul Meisters held a one point lead (61-60) over David’s Copperfieds, but as the note mentions, there were tight races up and down the standings. Here’s a PDF of that Roster Change report:

By the following week, the Copperfields had spring ahead of the Meisters, and it was the Coppers who held a 61-60 lead. The Roster Change report for August 8 included the following note:
Speaking of the strike, it looks very possible that the season may end on August 12. If it does, it means there are only three games between this week’s standings and the end of the season, and those three games will have already been played by the time you read this. Just comparing this week’s standings to last week’s you can see the huge impact that a few games can have. All but three teams changed places in the standings in the last week, and the movement is almost guaranteed to continue for what may be the last few days of the season.
For example, Curt Schilling’s outing Tuesday night put the Ruffins ahead of both the Rebels and DoorMatts in ERA and ahead of the DoorMatts in Ratio. So just that one performance dropped the Rebels to 7th, shot the Lambchops up to 4th, and tied the DoorMatts and the Ruffins for 5th place. Obviously, this can all change Wednesday and Thursday night, but this is clearly the closest all-around race we’ve ever had.
Unfortunately, that race never got to play out to its full conclusion. As noted above, the season did end on August 11. You remember how I had written on August 8 that a lot could happen in the standings in those last three days between the 8th and 11th? I wasn’t kidding.
In what turned out to be the last three games of the season, the Meisters picked up one point in ERA and half a point in Saves. They also picked up a point in RBIs, which was doubly important because they passed the Copperfields in that category, making it a two-point swing there. All told, the Meisters picked up 2.5 points in those last three days to finish with a total of 62.5 points.
The Copperfields, meanwhile, not only lost the point to the Meisters in RBI, they lost TWO points in Wins, which not only dropped their point total to 58, but dropped them into second place and made Da Paul Meisters the 1995 Champions.
Also in those last three days, the DoorMatts dropped three places in the standings (4th to 7th), with the Lambchops, Rebels, and Ruffins each moving up a spot to finish 4-5-6.
It was a thrilling end to the season, but one that came much too soon. With a month and a half left in the schedule, and still three weeks left until the trading deadline, it would have been a lot of fun to watch that season play out.
That’s not to take anything away from the Meisters – it’s not like they snuck in to steal the title at the last minute. They were in the top 3 places in the standings every week of the season after Week 1, and in 1st place in 6 of the last 8 reporting periods.
Here’s the final standings report for 1995 (click to embiggen):

The MLB player strike continued into 1995 and impacted the start of the baseball season that year, delaying the 1995 CFCL Draft Day until early May. I wrote about that, and our contingency plan to draft replacement players, in the May 7 post, Draft Day 1995 – No Scabs Edition.


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