By Zane Miller
The strike only got uglier during the offseason, as the owners and MLBPA harbored more and more hostility towards each other with little progress being made. It even got to a point where the U.S. Congress became involved in January 1995, as five bills were introduced with the goal of ending the strike, but nothing immediately came of them. The spring training season rolled around with the strike still ongoing.
The MLB approved the use of replacement players for the 1995 spring training, however, they also reduced the number of regular season games from 162 to 144 to allow more time for the sides to reach an agreement, as the Toronto Blue Jays would be unable to use replacement players during the regular season due to Ontario labor laws. The Baltimore Orioles stood by their players during the strike, refusing to use any replacement players and cancelled their spring training altogether. The leverage of the owners was beginning to crumble.
On Sunday, April 2nd, 1995, the owners gave in to the demands of the MLBPA and rescinded their plans for a salary cap. As of this writing, the MLB is the only one of the four main U.S. pro sports to not use a salary cap.
While the players technically won the strike by fending off the salary cap, the ordeal was a public relations disaster for the MLB, and would be a black eye for the league for years to come. The prolonged strike led to the public perception of owners and players being greedy, a stereotype that the MLB continues to try to shake today. Dave Stewart, a three-time World Series champion pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981, Oakland Athletics in 1989, and Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, summed up the situation in a 2014 interview with USA Today, stating, “Even today, after all of my years in baseball, the passion I have for the game has never been the same. All because of that strike.”
While the Expos were the 1994 regular season champions, the World Series cancellation would be the beginning of the end for the team’s time in Montreal. As the city refused to build a new stadium to replace the outdated Olympic Stadium, and the team’s on-field performance hit a decline, the Expos began running into significant attendance and financial troubles and were eventually relocated to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season.
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