The MLB owners and MLB Players Association are currently in the midst of a work stoppage for the first time in 27 years. The last time this happened? August 1994-March 1995. For Mariners fans, that second date may ring a bell, which is why for this week’s Throwback Thursday, we are looking back at the state of the Mariners before and after the MLB had a lockout situation similar to what they are dealing with today.
I won’t bore you with the details of that lockout, but it was a doozy and ended up costing us over 900 regular-season games, as well as the whole1994 postseason. Honing in specifically on the Mariners, 1994 was supposed to be a breakout year for the squad. With veterans like Jay Buhner and Mike Blowers hitting the peak of their careers, and young guns Ken Griffey Jr. and Tino Martinez coming on strong, Seattle was hoping 1994 would be their year they could contend.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, that ’94 season never really got going.
After starting off with a 49-63 record, the season came to a screeching halt on August 12th when the players began a strike that would effectively end the season.
While this current work stoppage didn’t start mid-season, it has already impacted the 2022 season by costing us at least the first two series. If there is any optimism to be found in that, though, we should look no further than the 1995 Mariners.
The 1995 season started with MLB cancelling the first 18 games of the season. Once the labor dispute was resolved, the season got underway at the end of April. The boys came out strong, led by Edgar Martinez and his ridiculous 185 OPS+; they went on to win 79 games, which, in a shortened season and a down year for the AL West, was enough to clinch the division title.
The ’95 postseason is where the real magic began, and is typically what any Mariners fan who was around back then will recall when they think about their favorite sports memories. After dropping the first two games of the ALDS to the powerhouse Yankees in New York, the Mariners battled back, winning the next two games in Seattle and setting up what most M’s fans would agree is the greatest walk-off in MLB history.
While the ’95 Mariners would fall short of the ultimate goal, that lockout-shortened season remains one of the most influential seasons in franchise history and set the stage for the team to compete with the big dogs in the AL for years to come.
This time around, we find our Mariners in a little bit different boat (pun intended). The team is younger, less experienced, and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding their potential. One thing this team does have more of than that ’95 club did to start the season is hype, and a whole city that can’t wait to see them succeed. Here’s to hoping these Mariners can follow in the footsteps of their lockout-affected predecessors and make 2022 the next great franchise-altering season.