A moment of silence please
August 12, 2007 3 Comments
It wasn’t an unusual game in any way that night in Oakland. It was a Friday night game on the West Coast and the Mariners were in town to play the A’s, with the A’s hoping to move into a tie for first place with the Texas Rangers. The Mariners, however, were only 2.5 games out, and on this night, they jumped on A’s starter Ron Darling for six runs in the second inning to open a 6-0 lead. With Randy Johnson on the mound, Seattle didn’t need much more. Early in the morning hours of August 12, 1994 (at least on the East Coast), Randy Johnson finished off a trademark 1-run, 4-hit, 15-strikeout performance, and threw the last pitch of this night of baseball past Ernie Young.
It was a strike.
Thirteen years ago today, what should have been a bustling Saturday of Major League Baseball was reduced to an eerie silence. And every night for 200+ days, I played Willie, Mickey, and the Duke on my cassette player (it was 1994…). It was all my fourteen year old mind could think of to fill the void left by baseball. After all, for the first time in about 35 years, the Cleveland Indians were actually good, and at that point were leading the chase for the (newly created) Wild Card. They say that you never realize what you’ve got until it’s gone and that summer, I learned that there really is nothing like baseball on a summer night.
There was no World Series that year, and for a little while in 1995, it looked like baseball would be played as something as a real-life fantasy camp. But what would have happened in 1994 had all that unpleasantness not transpired? What if baseball had continued? Allow me to perhaps waste inordinate amounts of your time answering that question. In 1994, Diamond Mind baseball simulators took to simulating the rest of the 1994 season and reported the results to the world. It was all that we had.
Back in 1994, there was something else that was fairly new to the American consciousness called “The Internet”. This was a time when people asked whether or not you had an e-mail address rather than simply asking what it was. Strangely enough, back in 1994, people were getting most of their information from places like newspapers and radio, as “The Internet” wasn’t really so much an information superhighway yet, but more of a jaunt through a suburban subdivision on a Thursday afternoon. But, thanks to the magic of the internet archive, there was one site (the now-defunct) Nando Times, which has a (partial, I believe, as only some of the links are working for me) archive of those box scores. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but here’s the main page. (Warning: This is an internet quicksand trap for baseball nerds.)
I write this as a lesson to all the stat geeks out there (like me!) and all baseball fans, for that matter. Today, take a moment of silence today to remember that despite all the steroid allegations, the fact that the (string of expletives deleted) Yankees are somehow back in the playoff race (this seems to happen every year…), and people’s strange belief in the power of clutch hitting, life would be really boring if all that we had was cold computer processing instead of real live baseball. In 1994, all that we had was a computer simulation and Terry Cashman. If you’re old enough to remember that time, don’t ever forget it.
It’s why every year around August 12th, my heart sinks a little. I work as a Sabermetrician because I love the game of baseball, and 13 years ago today, they took the game away from me.