Andersen, Sandberg look back on start of devastating strike

Posted: August 14, 2014

ANAHEIM - A half dozen Phillies players gathered in the far corner of the visiting dugout at Angels Stadium yesterday afternoon. Two - A.J. Burnett and Jake Diekman - poured buckets of ice water over their heads as a part of an ALS awareness and fundraising effort.

Twenty years ago, there wasn't a player to be found in a ballpark.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the start of the 1994 players' strike. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, then playing for the Cubs, temporarily called it a career that summer, while former Phillies pitcher and current broadcaster Larry Andersen wouldn't throw another pitch in the big leagues after the strike.

Andersen, who was dealing with an arm injury at the time of the strike, reported to spring training in 1995, but eventually took on a job as a pitching coach. The strike didn't end his career, but Andersen said it nearly ended the game.

For the first time in 100 years, Major League Baseball didn't have a World Series in 1994.

"We almost killed ourselves," Andersen said. "I think it got to the point where, when they didn't have a Series, didn't have the playoffs, both sides realized, we can't do this."

"It's one of those things where you didn't think it would get to that point," said Sandberg, who retired that June but returned for 2 more years beginning in 1996. "There was some pressure to get things done, to hurry up and get it done before the postseason, salvage the season. So that was very rare. It was really a big hit on the game."

Baseball and the players' union have had harmony in the time since the strike. There hasn't been a strike or lockout in the last 2 decades.

Between 1972 and 1994, the game had seven work stoppages.

"They finally realized they couldn't have it anymore," Andersen said of the strike's end in April 1995. "And I do think it was a big reason for steroids, where they were allowed. They wanted home runs. The parks were built smaller. They wanted offense, thinking that's what would bring fans back. And they got it.

"I can't stand here and say they turned their backs on steroids, but when you look back in retrospect, that's pretty much what they did. And it brought people back. The home-run races, guys hitting the balls 500 feet regularly. It brought them back. Then it created a monster, trying to get rid of it."

Ruf takes first

Darin Ruf was in the starting lineup for consecutive games for the first time since Ryan Howard's mini-benching 3 weeks ago.

Ruf started at first base last night in Anaheim. Howard was also in the lineup against the Angels, as the designated hitter in the American League ballpark.

"It gets Howie off his feet, but also gives him four at-bats," Sandberg said. "The luxury of the American League game."

Ruf, meanwhile, had started only three times in the last 15 games before starting in leftfield on Monday in the series finale against the Mets. Ruf hit a home run, his second of the season, and earned a walk in three plate appearances, apparently enough to earn him a second straight start.

"It was good to see Darin drive the ball like he did, in the middle of the field like that," Sandberg said. "It was impressive . . . He's making an adjustment . . . a little bit longer on the outside pitch. I think that was a good sign."

Ruf was hampered with injuries in the first half of the season and has struggled to find regular playing time since returning to the big leagues 3 weeks ago. He was hitting .152 with three extra-base hits in 20 games this season entering play last night.

Howard, meanwhile, entered the day hitting .172 (10-for-58) with a .612 OPS, three home runs, two doubles and 12 RBI in 15 games since his benching.

Phillers

Ben Revere was hitting .355 since the All-Star break, the eighth-best batting average in baseball over that time. Revere's 3-week hot streak could put him in position to compete for the National League batting title. Revere was hitting .309 on the season, fifth in the league. Troy Tulowitzki (.340) is 19 points ahead of the next closest hitter, Colorado teammate Justin Morneau (.321), but hasn't played since July 19 and isn't due back anytime soon with a hip injury. Major league players need 502 plate appearances (an average of 3.1 plate appearances per team game scheduled) to qualify. Tulowitzki has 375 . . . A.J. Burnett will look to stop a personal four-game losing streak when he takes the mound tonight at Angels Stadium. Burnett has a 6.66 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break. The Phillies have lost all five games. Burnett is 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA in nine career starts vs. the Angels, including 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts in Anaheim . . . The Phillies and Angels wore special patches on their uniforms last night in honor of the late Jim Fregosi. Fregosi, who died in February, was a six-time All-Star with the Angels who went on to manage the 1993 Phillies to a National League pennant. Fregosi's No.11 is one of six numbers the Angels have retired.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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