NEW YORK - New York Yankees captain Don Mattingly Thursday said it was "embarrassing" that players and owners could not resolve their differences, adding "We have failed the fans." Mattingly, a 12-year veteran who had hoped to reach post-season play for the first time as a member of the American League East-leading Yankees, responded to countless interview requests by issuing a five-paragraph statement that reflected his frustration and great disappointment. "The shortened 1994 Major League Baseball season and cancellation of the post-season has been very difficult for me to accept," Mattingly began. "I share the same disappointment and concerns for the game like the millions of fans and my fellow players do throughout the country. "Playing my entire career in New York, I have learned a tremendous amount about the rich history and tradition of baseball. It in many ways is embarrassing to me that the owners and players are responsible for shutting down an industry that even the act of World War I and World War II couldn't do. We have failed the fans." The Yankees boasted an American-League best 70-43 record and a commanding 6-1/2-game margin in the A.L. East. Before players struck on Aug. 12, there was growing anticipation in New York that the Yankees would gain post-season play for the first time since 1981. "The New York Yankee players are especially saddened for the New York fans everywhere who have supported the Yankees. This year it was an exciting time for both Yankee players and fans," Mattingly went on. "Every spring training we report with the intent of getting into the playoffs and winning the World Series. We felt that this year's team had the chemistry, dedication, talent and work ethic to win it all. Unfortunately, we will never know how far we would have gotten. We are disappointed but understand that it just wasn't meant to be this year." Finally, Mattingly urged an end to baseball's labor woes. "Many important issues will need to be resolved by both the owners and players during the next few months," he said. "It is time to set aside the blame and get busy to restore the respect, credibility and perception that baseball is our national pastime." The shortened season is a particularly serious blow to the Yankees because their organization had targeted this year as the culmination of a rebuilding effort that began after a 67-95 record and last-place finish in 1990. It will be difficult for the Yankees to repeat their success because 12 players are potential free agents, including offensive star Paul O'Neill and left-handed pitcher Jim Abbott. "We'll have to start over and that's what we're going to do," manager Buck Showalter said somberly. Player moves were not on general manager Gene Michael's mind Thursday, however. He and other team officials are making determinations on layoffs that had previously been avoided. "We thought we had a good chance for the season to start again," Michael said. "Now, we'll have to take a longer, harder look." When the strike began, employees had been urged to use their vacation time and any time owed. Layoffs are expected to occur at the start of next week. "Ballclubs all over the country are pulling in," Michael said. "We don't have our plan yet." Michael does expect to meet next week with Showalter, principal owner George Steinbrenner, and minor league officials to discuss player evaluations and needs. With no labor agreement in place, however, player movement has essentially been placed in limbo because there are no rules governing contracts. "It will all shake out," Michael said.
PEDULLA, TOM, NEW YORK - New York Yankees captain Don Mattingly., Gannett News Service, 09-15-1994.