Former White Sox player Jack McDowell remembers 1994 players’ strike

McDowell, a former White Sox player, recalls that the hit 94 originally appeared on NBC Sports in Chicago.

Major League Baseball hasn’t given much hope of a timeline for when the season will start.

On Friday, the league postponed the first week of spring training due to the current shutdown – the ninth stoppage in MLB history – and unhappy fans, players and former players.

Former Chicago White Sox player and 1993 Cy Young Winner Jack McDowell went to 670TheScore’s “Parkins and Spiegel” show Friday and shared his thoughts on the situation. McDowell was an active player during the 1994 players’ strike.

“The hardest part is getting ready for spring training,” McDowell said. “Because you know what your natural projection is when you should start throwing, when you should start getting physically ready to go to spring training and now if it’s a month later, it could be spoiled, so I don’t know what to do.” Back in 1994, that was where I was. I wasn’t really ready for spring training. We didn’t know anything. And then, it was all over. And they’re like, “Okay, we’ll see you at spring training in a couple of days.”

McDowell and his wife gave birth to their first child in mid-February 1995 and traveled from Chicago to California to introduce the child to their family. He received a call stating that the strike was over and that he had to prepare for spring training.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to stay with the White Sox or the supposedly illegal trade, I was told it was illegal, and they made up whether or not I’d be on the Yankees. So I’m getting a call from the Yankees like, ‘You should be in Florida in two days.” I was like, OK. So I’m going to spring training. I had to fly to Chicago to pick up all my baseball and go to spring training. Where am I going to live when we go to New York, he had no clue. It’s a hard way Really to start a season this way.”

On top of dealing with the pressures of a newborn, discovering lockdown, trading with another team and having to find another place to live, McDowell said he wasn’t as good as he once was. The 29-year-old didn’t get off to a great start with his new team and ended up with an injury at the end of the season. He said his teammate Jimmy Key kept going twice and then picked up an injury at the end of the season.

The start of the lockdown for this season is a bit like the 2020 season which has been cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The remainder of the spring training matches in March were canceled and the regular season did not start until late July.

The stop-and-go nature of baseball has resulted in players not participating in their full training, resulting in injuries such as McDowell reported.

“Injuries are rising every year with all the things that are jamming these shooters’ throats.

“They do all this stupid weightlifting and all those things you’re not supposed to do if you’re a player. They do everything. That’s why the injury rate is going up like crazy every year now.”

McDowell doesn’t think bowlers should lift very heavy weights and shoot heavy balls. He said he sees a lot of it coming from high school, college and above.

“It’s not the way to do things, but everyone thinks speed is the main thing,” McDowell said. “It’s actually something and being able to play, back and forth, up and down, in and out, is how people get out. Not only do you have to throw hard, but you know, it’s just the way it’s going now. The elements of the scales, they think that’s important. So, that’s what’s squeezing everyone’s throat.So real shooters who know how to pitch and get guys out aren’t tossing around 100mph with their new technology that “re-measurement, you know, didn’t even get a chance to move forward.”

In 1993, the year he won Cy Young, McDowell had a decision in each of his first 27 starts. McDowell spoke about the game’s lack of fans who no longer see beginners getting in depth.

“They lose as much of your best players as possible,” he said. “If you’re one of the five starters, it’s because you were one of the top five bowlers on your team and so you’re used to that. Now they’re going to pay the guy $40 million and only throw him five rounds a game…it doesn’t make sense.

Nowadays, the scales say, ‘No. The third time they see a bowler is the hardest time for this guy to come out “because he’s already seen your other pitches”. Well, wait a minute. Why would that change? You don’t even allow the reality of real baseball to make its way there.”

In his playing days, McDowell relied on the fact of his cadence, something today’s baseball technology can’t measure. In addition to metrics, he thinks analytics is a joke in today’s game.

“There’s not one thing they’ve come up with that’s actually positive about anything in this game,” he said. “It actually takes away a lot of the positivity in a lot of things in actual baseball.”

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