- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Each week, Nationals beat writers Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling debate an issue in major league baseball. This week’s question:Wednesday marks the 15th anniversary of the players strike that canceled the 1994 World Series. Is a similar work stoppage likely to happen again?

MARK ZUCKERMAN: Aug. 12, 1994: A sad day in American history. Especially when you consider it was my 18th birthday. How’s that for a present? No baseball for the rest of the year!) That work stoppage drew the ire of so many people and made both owners and players look so bad that I just don’t see it happening again, at least not anytime soon. It took several years and several once-in-a-lifetime baseball moments (Cal Ripken’s streak, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s pursuit of 61) to win everyone back. I think all the interested parties understand now how damaging that period was and how another one could destroy the American pastime.

BEN GOESSLING: As much as I’d like to agree with you (well, except for the part about it being a sad day in American history because your birthday was ruined - you think that’s just a touch melodramatic?), I just think there are too many issues that will have to be dealt with in the next collective bargaining agreement - and CBAs beyond that - to keep labor peace forever. Think about the issues that are going to come up when the CBA expires in 2011, including a hard slotting system for draft picks, untold sums of money in free agency and, of course, drug regulation will come up in some form again.

MZ: Hey, I was (and still am) a big baseball fan. I understand what you’re saying about the potential land mines standing between the owners and the union in 2011. But let’s remember that those two entities - which less than a decade ago were diabolical enemies - have done a pretty good job working together the past few years. The union was willing to re-open the CBA and change the drug policy when Bud Selig wanted harsher penalties. And at a time when the last thing Americans will tolerate is millionaires and billionaires fighting over money, both sides know they can’t get into a big fight over economics.

BG: I’m not saying a work stoppage will happen in 2011 - though it will be interesting to see how the union operates with a new chief to replace Don Fehr. But I do think it will happen at some point, particularly if some of these issues fester or get more complicated over time. Let’s say the owners and players agree on a new deal in 2011 that lasts through 2016 or so. By that point, the strike will be 22 years old and players who can barely remember it will be charged with making sure it doesn’t happen again. Since the start of free agency, the longest period without a lengthy work stoppage was 13 years - from 1981 to 1994 - before this current run of tranquility.

MZ: So you’re saying I should prepare now for a disappointing 40th birthday?


Looking at the front-runners for baseball’s season awards. This week: NL Cy Young

Tim Lincecum, Giants

It’s hard to believe the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner actually could be getting better, but it’s true. Lincecum has lowered his ERA (from 2.62 last season to 2.20 this season), lowered his WHIP (1.172 last season, 1.045 this season), increased his strikeout rate (10.5 per nine innings last season, 10.9 this season) and lowered his walk rate (3.3 per nine innings last season, 2.3 this season). He is the best in the game right now.

Others to watch: Matt Cain, Giants; Dan Haren, Diamondbacks; Adam Wainwright, Cardinals


Rank, teamRecordComment

1. YANKEES 69-42 They may have just clinched the AL East with the sweep of the Red Sox.

2. DODGERS 67-45 Perhaps they’re showing signs of weakness with .500 ball over last 30 games.

3. ANGELS 65-44 Nobody seems to give them much credit, but they’re legit.

4. RED SOX 62-48 They’ve gone from leading the East to fighting for their wild-card lives.

5. PHILLIES 61-48 Getting swept by Marlins wasn’t what they had in mind.

6. RANGERS 62-48 They keep hanging around, refusing to succumb.

7. ROCKIES 61-50 Hand Jim Tracy the manager of the year award right now.

8. GIANTS 61-50 They’re gearing up for a classic battle with the Rockies for the wild card.

9. CARDINALS 62-51 Matt Holliday is hitting .466 since the trade.

10. RAYS 61-50 It’s time to make a move, guys, or there will be no AL pennant repeat.

Records and stats through Sunday

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