Ah, who can forget 1991? A little start-up network named Comedy Central was born, while the Warsaw Pact was officially dissolved. Youngsters Jeff Bagwell and Chuck Knoblauch, NL and AL Rookie of the Year, respectively, served notice that they'd be forces for years to come. And Cubs' shortstop Starlin Castro celebrated his first birthday.
Meanwhile, the hot stove produced some interesting moments as well. Let's think back to the time we furiously refreshed MLBTradeRumors.com using our 300 baud modems...
- The Toronto Blue Jays got a jump on the trading season on June 27th by dealing Glenallen Hill, Mark Whiten and Denis Boucher to the Cleveland Indians for Tom Candiotti and Turner Ward. Candiotti had been a hard-luck pitcher with Cleveland- his 2.24 ERA had produced a 7-6 record- but his trade to a contender didn't help, as his 2.98 ERA in Toronto produced a 6-7 record. Just another lesson in the perils of won-loss record. Meanwhile, Hill and Whiten went on to similar careers-both bounced around the major leagues, hitting home runs. And Boucher, a Montreal native, eventually made a triumphant homecoming, pitching to a 1.91 ERA for the 1993 Expos.
- On July 15th, the New York Mets, still in the race at 49-36, 4.5 games out of first, traded Ron Darling and Mike Thomas to the Expos for Tim Burke in an attempt to shore up their bullpen. Burke certainly did that, pitching 55.2 innings of 2.75 ERA baseball, but it didn't stop the Mets from a freefall that left them at 77-84 for the season. Darling, meanwhile, was a disaster in Montreal, posting a 7.41 ERA in three starts before being shipped just 16 days later to Oakland for Russell Cormier and Matt Grott. Back on American soil, Darling found his rhythm again, pitching to a 4.08 ERA over 75 innings for the Athletics.
- Oil Can Boyd fared only a bit better than Darling, post-trade, after being dealt from the Expos to the Rangers on July 21 for Joey Eischen, Jonathan Hurst and Travis Buckley. Boyd had a 3.52 ERA in 120.1 innings with Montreal, but collapsed to a 6.68 ERA in what turned out to be the final 62 innings of his major league career for Bobby Valentine's Rangers. Not that Boyd was finished pitching, of course- he had several more seasons in independent league baseball, including a 3.83 ERA stint in 110.1 innings for the 2005 Brockton Rox of the Can-Am League, at age 45.
- And in an indication of just how much the past 19 years has inflated the cost of deadline-deal closers, the Phillies traded Roger McDowell to the Dodgers for Mike Hartley and Braulio Castillo. Hartley was a veteran middle reliever, while Castillo was a fringe prospect at best. McDowell was just what the Dodgers needed, saving seven games and pitching to a 2.55 ERA in 42.1 innings. The Dodgers, however, finished one game behind Atlanta, meaning that a 93-69 season earned Los Angeles... nothing.