Wendel: This year in baseball, 1991

From SABR member Tim Wendel at The National Pastime Museum on May 11, 2016:

Can you be nostalgic for a season that happened only than a quarter-century ago? Has enough time gone by to smooth the edges to sweet memory? Perhaps. Yet the impact of the 1991 season, especially the World Series that year, continues to echo through the game.

First, let’s take a look at what we didn’t have to deal with 20-plus years ago. That can be enough to make things warm and fuzzy in a hurry. Team payrolls back then were a shadow of what they are now. Believe it or not, the biggest spenders were just $33 million annually.

The top team payrolls in 1991 belonged to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, and the Oakland Athletics. Yes, the poster child for Moneyball could still compete financially, as could the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves, the two teams that would go from worst to first to meet in the World Series. We’ll be back to them shortly.

The ’91 season was also the calm before two approaching storms. One was the turmoil over steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. Today, debate continues over who should be in the Hall of Fame and how tainted many of the game’s hallowed marks have become. Not that long ago, one could put Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Aaron in the same sentence and everyone would know we were discussing the greatest sluggers ever. But in 1991 Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds were about to crash the party, and we’re still crawling from the wreckage.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/1991

Originally published: May 11, 2016. Last Updated: May 11, 2016.