Trying as hard as I can to get caught up in the buzz that is the Golden State Warriors right now, so I decided to look back at May 4, 1994, and see what was going on in the majors on the day the Warriors last hosted a postseason game. Charles Barkley went for 56 points in the Phoenix Suns’ 140-133 win that night, eliminating the Warriors in three straight games from the first round. Meantime, in baseball:
— The A’s were in the middle of a free fall. Dennis Eckersley, his best days clearly behind him blew a save, and the A’s fell 4-3 in 10 innings to Baltimore. It was their 14th loss in 15 games and dropped them to 8-19 early. They never recovered. Mark McGwire was still playing for them then, but he sat out with what I presume to be his plantar fascia problem (replaced by the truly forgettable Scott Hemond. The lineup that day: Stan Javier (CF)-Steve Sax (2B)-Rickey Henderson (DH)-Ruben Sierrea (RF), Angel Berroa (LF)-Terry Steinbach (C)-Mike Bordick (SS)-Scott Brosius (3B)-Hemond (1B). Todd Van Poppel started.
My initial reaction: Wow, were they bad. I had completely forgotten about Steve Sax every playing with them. By the way, Mike Bordick, with his professionalism and glove-work is one of the few players who I’d still pay to go see. Mark Ellis reminds me a lot of him.
— The Giants were in considerably better shape. At 14-13, they were a game ahead of the Rockies in the NL West. But they lost to the Mets 7-4 at Shea that night. Barry Bonds went 1-for-1, scored a run, drove in two. Hit twice by pitches, and collected home runs No. 7 (for the season), 53 (as a Giant) and 229 (for his career). The immortal Bryan Hickerson got a no-decision en route to a 7-5, 4.26 in 47 appearances, 15 starts.
Initial reaction: Don’t even remember Hickerson. Bonds was 30 percent of the way to Henry Aaron. Bonds finished the year with 37 homers, 81 RBI, 29 stolen bases and only 74 walks.
You’re NL division leaders: Giants, Braves, Reds
You’re NL wild-card: Cardinals
You’re AL division leaders: Red Sox, White Sox, Rangers (at 11-14).
You’re AL wild-card: Orioles
You’re individiual leaders:
NL Average: Ellis Burks (Rockies) .420
AL Average: Paul O’Neill (Yankees) .446
NL Home Runs: Matt Williams (Giants) 12 [en route to 43]
AL Home Runs: Joe Carter (Blue Jays), Cecil Fielder (Tigers) 9, Ken Griffey Jr. (Mariners) 9, Rafael Palmeiro (Rangers) 9, Frank Thomas (White Sox) 9
NL RBI: Andres Galarraga (Rockies) 30
AL RBI: Joe Carter (Blue Jays) 34
NL Wins: Bob Tewksbury (Cardinals) 6
AL Wins: Wilson Alvarez (White Sox), Ben McDonald (Orioles) 6
NL ERA: Greg Maddux (Braves) 1.12
AL ERA: Ricky Bones (Brewers) 1.11
NL Strikeouts: Andy Benes (Padres) 42
AL Strikeouts: Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks) 42
NL Saves: Mel Rojas (Expos) 8
AL Saves: Lee Smith (Orioles) 12
Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Randy Johnson are the only players on this still playing actively, and the Big Unit is just about done. It’s amazing how I remember almost none of this. Funny what a canceled World Series does. Well, that, and falling in love with your soulmate.