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World Series falls victim to baseball strike

It's always about the money. The big business of professional sports has meant frequent battles between players and owners for a piece of the multimillion-dollar pie. The 2004 hockey lockout was the first in a decade, but over the years sports labour disputes have plagued professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey — resulting in shortened seasons and furious fans.

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Sorry, Yogi Berra. It's over. For the first time in 91 years, there will be no World Series. Last minute negotiations to end the month-old strike have failed, and acting commissioner Bud Selig announces the cancellation with "an incredible amount of sadness." Even sadder are the fans of the Montreal Expos, who are currently the best team in baseball despite ongoing financial woes. As we hear in this CBC Radio report, many say it is another nail in the team's coffin. 
. After 34 days of work stoppage, the remainder of the 1994 baseball season was cancelled, including the World Series (its first cancellation since 1903.)
. On Oct. 14, acting baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Players Association executive director Donald Fehr met with U.S. President Bill Clinton in an attempt to break the impasse over implementing a salary cap, to no avail. Also unsuccessful were a Clinton-imposed deadline and federal mediator, and five bills introduced into Congress.

. With the strike underway, owners imposed a salary cap unilaterally. The players responded by declaring all unsigned players free agents. The league also locked out umpires.
. Further embittering the conflict, an arbitrator determined that in previous years, owners had been colluding to keep salaries down by agreeing not to engage in bidding wars for top players.

. In January 1995, as the strike dragged on, the league approved using replacement players. Some teams hired replacement players for the new season's spring training and exhibition games. Others refused to use them.

. Ontario law does not allow the use of replacement workers in a labour dispute, so the Toronto Blue Jays received permission to play regular season games at their spring training park in Dunedin, Fla. The Blue Jays coaching staff was assigned to minor league activities so they wouldn't have to deal with replacement players.

. In the end, the U.S. National Labour Relations board ended the strike by forcing owners to withdraw their unilateral changes. Both sides were told to play for the next two seasons under the previous collective agreement.
. Despite the strike ending, the owners had not yet settled their dispute with umpires, and Ontario law would not allow the use of replacement umpires. The last vestiges of the baseball strike ended on May 1, 1995, when owners and umpires reached a five-year agreement.

. The 1994 Expos are widely regarded as the best team the franchise has ever fielded. Heading into the strike they had a league-best record of 74-40, giving them a six-game lead in their division. Core players included Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, Marquis Grissom, Pedro Martinez, Ken Hill, Jeff Shaw, John Wetteland, Wil Cordero and Darrin Fletcher - all in their twenties. Five of them made that year's All Star game. Most were traded to other teams in the three years following the strike.

. The following season the Expos finished fifth in their division. They have not finished in first place since the strike.
. The 1994-95 strike cost ball clubs an estimated one billion dollars in lost revenues. The 1995 season started late, and was shortened to 144 games instead of the usual 162.
. There have been eight work stoppages in Major League Baseball over the years, resulting in the loss of 1,736 games.

. Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra was a 15-time all-star baseball player, and one of the game's most famous coaches and managers.
He is most famous for his oft-quoted aphorisms (affectionately known as "Yogi-isms") including:
- It ain't over 'til it's over
- You can observe a lot by watching
- It's déjà vu all over again
- 99 per cent of the game is half mental
According to Berra, "I didn't really say everything I said."
Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: Sept. 14, 1994
Guest(s): Claude Brochu, Bud Selig
Host: Alannah Campbell, Bob Oxley
Duration: 4:39

Last updated: February 17, 2012

Page consulted on November 14, 2014

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