Will Cal's streak endure, and more BASEBALL 1994: THE END

September 15, 1994

Sun staff writer Mark Hyman attempts to answer some of the common questions that have arisen since the season was canceled yesterday:

QUESTION: Why did the owners cancel the season now?

ANSWER: Because they concluded there wasn't anything left to save. Months of talks haven't produced a settlement. And even if one were in sight, it's probably too late to salvage enough of the season to hold anybody's interest.

Q: What's next?

A: No one really knows, which makes the situation so risky for owners and players, and scary for fans. One possibility is that, after a few weeks of fruitless talks, the owners will declare negotiations at an impasse and move to unilaterally impose their salary cap proposal. The players likely would respond by appealing to the National Labor Relations Board, charging the owners with refusing to bargain in good faith. The dispute could drag on for months, maybe even spilling into the 1995 season.

Q: With the pressure off to save the World Series, might the two sides be able to work out something quickly?

A: More likely, it will have the opposite effect. With the World Series hanging in the balance, the owners at least had a powerful incentive to close a deal quickly: money. Canceling postseason games will cost each major-league club about $5 million. Now that the money is lost, so is the sense of urgency to get an agreement.

Q: Will there be an Opening Day next year?

A: Probably. But an equally intriguing question is: Who will be wearing Orioles uniforms? If the players -- members of the Major League Baseball Players Association -- remain on strike, the owners have discussed fielding "replacement teams," and filling their rosters with minor-league players. Don't look for the Orioles' top prospects among them, either. Anyone on the club's 40-man roster is a union member, and thus unlikely to play. That would leave an Orioles team with lineups borrowed from the likes of the Bowie Baysox and Albany Polecats.

Q: What happens to Tony Gwynn's .394 average, Matt Williams' 43 home runs, Jeff Bagwell's 116 RBIs and the other remarkable statistical feats of 1994?

A: They go in the record books, even though they were compiled during a tainted season. That's the way Major League Baseball handled the issue during the last strike-shortened season in 1981.

Q: Will there be postseason awards?

A: Yes. The ballots for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year will be mailed this weekend and the results will be announced starting in October, about a month ahead of schedule.

Q: If replacement teams are fielded next year, what becomes of Cal Ripken's consecutive-games streak?

A: Major-league officials haven't addressed this. But if the Orioles play and Ripken doesn't, chances are the streak is over.

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