Sunday, April 17, 2005

 

April 17th, 1967

Marquis Grissom Born


Marquis Grissom, who is part of the Giants’ geriatric outfield this season, was the centerfielder for the 1994 Expos, a team whose potential pennant run was interrupted by the 1994 strike. Now that ten years have passed since that monstrously ill-conceived event—best described as the players attempting to screw the owners and knocking the fans instead—we can finally look back with some certainty and ascertain who was hurt the most. The answers, it would seem, are the 1994 Expos, Fred McGriff, and Matt Williams.

The story of the 1994 Expos is well known; they had the best record in baseball (74-40, on pace for 105 wins) and a team that included on offense Grissom, Cliff Floyd, Larry Walker, and Moises Alou. The pitching staff featured Pedro Martinez, John Wetteland and Jeff Shaw among others. That the Expos would have won the World Series is almost entirely speculation, but they certainly had an excellent shot and it might very well have been the A’s or Devil Rays who were relocated to
Washington this past off-season.

Barring a miracle, Fred McGriff will finish his career fewer than ten home runs shy of five-hundred, a number which has—to this point—always merited Hall of Fame induction, something it looks like McGriff will otherwise miss out on. Throughout his career, McGriff had been a consistent player, slamming at least thirty-home runs a year every year from 1988 until 1994 and playing at lest one-hundred forty-five games every year until his age thirty-nine season. In 1994 the “Crime Dog” was having a great season, having already hit thirty-seven home runs through one-hundred thirteen games. As with World Series predictions, “on track for” predictions are dangerous things. Despite this, it is reasonable to assume that the strike cost McGriff approximately forty-games (most of them in 1994). It is even more reasonable to assume that McGriff could’ve hit at least ten home-runs in that time. It is reasonable then, to say that the 1994 strike cost Fred McGriff a Hall of Fame Plaque.

Lastly, Matt Williams. In 1994 Matt Williams had hit forty-three home runs playing in one-hundred twelve games, missing three of the Giants’ games. If Williams had kept up his pace—and played in all remaining Giants games—he would have hit seventeen or eighteen more home runs. Those numbers would have given him sixty and sixty-one home runs, respectively for the season, important numbers in the pre McGwire/Sosa/Bonds (or if you prefer, pre-steroid) era. Whether Williams would have topped Maris is—like everything else here—a matter of speculation, but the strike denied him the chance and instead left baseball to be saved, and Maris’ record to be broken by Big Mac and Sammmy four years later.





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