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Baseball '94: 10 Reasons Why It's Not Considered a Total Waste : Achievements: Raul Mondesi appears sure to follow Eric Karros (1992) and Mike Piazza (1993) as the third consecutive Dodger to win the N.L. Rookie of the Year award.

October 09, 1994|MARK NEWMAN | THE SPORTING NEWS

The 1994 baseball season will be remembered years from now for its premature end, but was it a complete waste of a season ticket? Not exactly. Here are 10 reasons why it meant at least something:

1. Davey Johnson. It seemed like just yesterday that he was begging baseball to take him back. Now he's recycled into the hot-commodity circuit. Johnson had the Cincinnati Reds atop the National League Central, ahead of the widely favored Houston Astros, despite Jose Rijo's struggles and a steady stream of controversy from day one (or was it day two?). Johnson, who had to take over the previous season for popular Tony Perez, cleared up doubt about whether he can still manage.

2. Raul Mondesi. After hitting .306 and leading the majors in outfield assists, he is sure to follow Eric Karros (1992) and Mike Piazza (1993) as the third consecutive Dodger to win the N.L. Rookie of the Year award. Only twice before has a club held such a grip on the baseball writers' award: Oakland from 1986 through '88 (Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Walt Weiss) and Los Angeles from 1979 through '82 (Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Sax).

3. Cal Ripken. He moved 112 games closer to Lou Gehrig. We've all thought for years about 1995, unable to picture the Baltimore Orioles shortstop getting there without going down and out on at least one double-play pivot. If there's a '95 season, Ripken is all that matters.

4. Leonard Coleman. The new N.L. president came in and kicked butt. His stiff penalties seemed to have an effect in a season that began with wanton brawling. The brawls won't stop there, but it's good to know that there is at least some deterrent for next season.

5. Pedro Martinez. Although Coleman had to set him straight, the Montreal Expos pitcher found out what he needed to work on in the offseason. Missing a batter here and there will help.

6. Ron Gant, Donovan Osborne and Mark Clark. Gant and Osborne knew they would miss the season because of injuries, so they didn't lose as much playing time as they figured. Clark righted that Mark Whiten trade with St. Louis by going 11-3 and making the All-Star roster, only to be disabled for the second half because of an injury.

7. Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro. After all that talk, both first basemen proved that they deserved their free-agent contracts. Clark led the Texas Rangers with a .329 average and 80 RBIs in 110 games, although he slumped toward the end. Palmeiro led Orioles regulars with a .319 average, 23 homers and 76 RBIs in 111 games.

8. Darryl Strawberry. He had just enough time to find another employer, and he did just well enough to warrant another contract for '95.

9. The baseball. Costa Rican manufacturers must be laughing, because it was proved again that juiced-ball talk is a lot of hot air. Carlos Delgado and runs in general tapered off after that wicked start, and by strike time only Sparky Anderson thought the ball was juiced.

10. Kenny Rogers. No one can take away his perfect game.

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