MLB in a bad spot, but at least it's not 1995 bad (yet)

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • After the 1995 MLB labor dispute, the league lost fans for several years -- some never returning. If a new deal doesn't come soon between current players and owners, it could happen all over again.

    After the 1995 MLB labor dispute, the league lost fans for several years -- some never returning. If a new deal doesn't come soon between current players and owners, it could happen all over again. AP File Photo

 
 
Updated 1/8/2022 5:39 PM

There's still enough time for major-league owners and players to sit down, hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and play a full 2022 season.

If the two sides need any motivation to get a deal done, I'm happy to help.

 

Let's go back to the spring of 1995, to Sarasota, Fla.

The "White Sox" reported to training camp in mid-February as usual, but all the big names -- Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura, etc. -- were nowhere to be found.

In a toxic labor dispute, players went on strike six months earlier and the end of the 1994 season, playoffs and World Series were vaporized.

Already disgusted with both sides, baseball fans were nearly subjected to replacements playing the '95 season.

Talk about a dark period for the game, looking back on it after all these years is almost laughable.

Sox camp was actually a hot spot in the spring of 1995, mainly because Michael Jordan was still on the grounds.

After leaving Jerry Reinsdorf's Bulls in 1993 and joining Reinsdorf's White Sox the following year, the hoops legend played his first pro baseball season with Class AA Birmingham and was aiming to make it to the Sox's major-league roster in '95.

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When word spread that owners were preparing to play the season with "scabs" and minor leaguers, Jordan did the right thing. He high-tailed it out of Florida, rejoined the Bulls and led them to three more championships.

Pete Rose Jr. was among those remaining at the Sox's training camp, and the son of MLB's all-time hit leader really found himself in a sticky spot.

Like Jordan, Rose Jr. wanted no part of crossing labor lines. He didn't want his name being used to sell tickets for games that would have been miserable to watch.

On the other hand, Rose Jr. thought the striking MLBPA already considered him a pariah, so he reluctantly stayed in camp.

Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd was also with the White Sox in the spring of 1995.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A successful starter for the Red Sox in the 1980s, Boyd was still trying to prove he could pitch at baseball's highest level when he joined the White Sox at age 35.

The flamboyant right-hander didn't see a problem playing with the replacement White Sox and then joining their major-league rotation once the strike ended.

Discussing the latter scenario in Sarasota one day, I asked Boyd if he eventually viewed himself pitching behind McDowell, Alex Fernandez, Wilson Alvarez and Jason Bere once the strike ended.

Giving the question some serious thought, a straight-faced Boyd finally said: "I don't know if I like that. Never been a No. 5 starter before."

When the strike finally did end on April 2, Boyd was never added to the Sox's rotation. He was never added to the roster.

Like Rose Jr., a surfer dude from California, a car load of former Little League stars from Michigan and many other twisted dream chasers looking for a shot to play major-league baseball, Boyd was quickly dispatched and forgotten.

MLB moved on with an abbreviated 144-game season in 1995 and it took years for fans to come back and embrace the game. Many never did return.

Learn a lesson from the past, owners and players. Agree on a new CBA before it's too late and Boyd tries making another comeback at age 62.

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