1968. Montreal and San Diego are announced to be the two newest
cities prided with an MLB baseball team to call their own. The following
year in February, the Expos began spring training. The first game
the Expos ever played was in Shea Stadium against the New York Mets,
who they defeated 11-10. Their first game in Montreal was against
the Cardinals, who they also defeated 8-7. Two weeks into the season
they recorded the franchise's first no hitter, under the wing of
Bill Stoneman, against the Phillies. The Expos were not wasting
It was a baseball town
where raising talent was a priority, especially given the fragile
budget that it was facing. The Montreal Expos raised 5 Cy Young
award winners in their 36 season history, only one earning the title
in Montreal , Pedro Martinez. The inability to hold on to these
potential leaders came from poor funding and careless administration.
The only pitcher ever to record twenty wins within a single season
for Montreal was Ross Grimsley.
In 1979 the Expos came
closer to the division title than they ever had, coming in second
and bringing the pennant race into the final series of their season.
In 1980 they would lose the division race again, this time by one
game, which was lost on the final day of the season. In 1981 there
was a strike, and the Expos lost in game 5 of the NLCS to the Dodgers,
who would go on to win the World Series.
In 1984 Pete Rose hit
his 4,000 th hit with the Expos, and probably said something like
“C'mon, Paulie, roll the dice, take a chance”. In 1991 Dennis Martinez
pitched the MLB's 15th perfect game.
That brings us to 1994.
This was the year that makes even me, a red sox fan, who has not
won a championship in 86 years and has been closer than any other
team in that time without actually accomplishing the fact, feel
lucky to have not been from the city of Montreal . It started in
June when the Braves came to town, surrendering a three-game series
to the Expos, and in the process, first place in the NL East. The
Expos would stay in first place for the rest of the season, ending
the regular season with the best record in baseball, 74-40. A normal
baseball season is supposed to consist of 162 games, you say? Not
114? Well that's because the players went on strike, ending what
would have most definitely been the finest season in Montreal Expos
baseball. The 34 game difference from wins to losses is the greatest
deficit at the end of any MLB season.
It was just a sad day
Another sad day struck
Montreal on September 29th , 2004, when the Expos played their last
game at Olympic Stadium. The MLB had just announced that the Expos
would be moving to D.C. the following season. They also announced
that they had never heard of Bill Lee or knew that a spaceman had
played within the MLB. They just don't know what the fuck they're
You say, “Nick, there
were absolutely no fans in Montreal and the yearly revenue was probably
in the red, they needed to move the team in order to help it develop
and mature into a decent ball club.”
First off, there were
fans, just not enough to make enough money for everyone to be happy.
The fans of the Montreal Expos have to be the most dedicated fans
I've ever encountered. I tip my cap to them.
I can't even imagine.
Secondly, I'll show you
a decent ball club. Prior to trading away Orlando Cabrera the Montreal
Expos had the highest fielding percentage in baseball. That is a
constant that with proper pitching and timely hitting leads to successful
seasons. Getting pitching is hard for a low-budget ballclub to manage,
and the bats just weren't there…ever. Nonetheless, a basic foundation
of defense had been established, and with a decent GM a good team's
going to be made, but they just got fucked over by money-craving
assholes. These type of people ruin everything I like.
Take this moment to tell
your current GM that you love them. Let them know they're appreciated.
Back to this being a
sad day in baseball; I'll admit that I didn't watch the game as
it happened, I was busy chewing out the good people at MLBTV for
blacking out my Red Sox game. I did spend the day afterwards reading
about 5 articles on the team and a subsequent article explaining
to me why D.C. is the future of baseball. After reading these I
turned to MLBTV, and watched the replay of the game. The Marlins
won 9-1 and Jeff Conine was named the player of the game. The game
was played as any other game would have been, given the odd amount
of fans present within Olympic Stadium.
Words fail in the 9th
inning. Rudy Seanez will be the last pitcher ever to take the mound,
retiring the Expos 1-2-3 to complete the sweep. That's not what
matters, though. What matters is that with two outs in the bottom
of the ninth inning at the last game you will ever see played at
this ballpark you feel like you're watching an execution. You're
watching the boy that no one tried to help be put to death, and
the whole town shows up to see him die, and they all know it's not
his fault. Terrmel Sledge was the last batter to step into the batter's
box in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, and the electricity that flowed
through all those fans in attendance and every baseball fan who
understands the importance of tradition and knows why Ichiro is
going to have an asterisk next to his name was indescribable. I
sat in front of my laptop, watching the replay of this game, and
felt as though I was going to cry. I am whole-heartily convinced
that this game was perhaps one of the saddest sites I had ever seen,
excluding personal matters. The fans rose to their feet, gave a
rousing round of applause, and cried. They clapped slowly, pausing
occasionally to wipe the tears from their cheeks and the cheeks
of their loved ones. They held up signs that had inspirational words
for the team that they loved, a team that was being taken away from
Sledge hit a lazy pop-up
to third baseman Mike Mordecai. It was while the ball was in the
air that everyone realized the significance of the game. Sure, that
day at work they told everyone how they were going to the game,
you know, to be part of the history, and how much fun it would be.
It's sort of like that time in your life when you're putting on
your best suit or dress for a loved one's funeral. Then you show
up, and you see the body. You see that pop-fly reach it's apex and
begin it's decent into Mordecai's glove. You want to jump to the
casket and shake the person, coerce them to wake up, stop sleeping
and wake up. You want to run onto the field and tackle Mordecai,
keep the game going on forever. It's man's inability to deal with
the mortality of everything that sparks this side of human nature.
You want to call God an asshole, how could he end this person's
life in such an unfair manner. You want to call Mordecai an asshole,
if he had any sympathy he would drop the ball and tip his cap to
the crowd. But then you see that body, see that third baseman settle
underneath the ball, and slowly raise his glove. You accept it.
You stop clapping. You stop crying. You just watch, braindead and
Mike Mordecai caught
the ball and trotted to his respective dugout. The ball was tossed
across the diamond to the Expos dugout, to Field Manager Frank Robinson.
Paparazzi covered the field barraging the players and coaches with
microphones. They were the last people in the world these guys wanted
to see, they just wanted to thank their fans and savor the fleeting
moments they had left in their home.
The fans stayed, and
they cried again. They clapped louder now, and the players tipped
their caps, most of them now crying, too. Money ruined this sport,
and this is a true example.
This is a salute to the
1994 “Best Team in Baseball”. Remember your home.