This is the continuation of “How the South got cold”, in which I talked about two Canadian franchises moving on southward. Today, it’s baseball related. I wanted to write this a lot sooner than I did, but I got caught up in other assignments.
When the MLB Network looked at the 1994 Montreal Expos season, it made me think of what the team accomplished. Sure Montreal didn’t have any success in the postseason (only one trip in 1981, otherwise known as Blue Monday), but it was Canada’s first MLB team. Toronto did steal some of the thunder later on as the first Canadian team to win the World Series (two in a row in 1992 and 1993).
Had the 1994 strike been resolved, we could only assume that Montreal would have clinched a playoff spot. The Expos were stuck with a 74-40 record, on place to win at least 100 games. After that, the fire sale begun including Pedro Martinez after the 1997 season. This is where the owner said “New ballpark or get the team out.” Quebec wanted to pay for some of a new downtown ballpark, but the owners wanted ALL of it paid. Needless to say, the rights to a downtown ballpark expired and Montreal moved out after the 2004 season. That was the final season of the Expos.
Now the franchise is known as the Washington Nationals, a city where two baseball franchises tried to survive but got taken away to Minnesota in 1960 and Texas in 1972. One time known as the Nationals, the fans wanted the team to be named the Senators and they finally got their wish in 1956. Baseball does have some history in the capital. However, these new Nationals are yet to have an over .500 record (they came close in 2005, but finished 81-81.) This new squad has seen Frank Robinson and Manny Acta (now the Leader of the Tribe) get the boot off the manager spot in just five seasons of play.
Like I said before, this was Canada’s team before Toronto arrived in 1977. The Expos did a great job raising stars, until they traded them off. The Expos had Randy Johnson, Vladimir Guerrero, Orlando Cabrera, Javier Vazquez, Brandon Phillips, and many others. It was tough to pay athletes in American money while the currency coming in was Canadian money.
One thing that always baffled me was the logo on Montreal. I always thought that the logo read “ELB” or “EJB”. Actually, you’re supposed to treat the white space in the logo as empty space instead of it forming a letter, making it “EB”, or Expos baseball. The blue trim is supposed to form an M, making it Montreal. So technically it’s “MEB.”
Who knows what the future could of had for the Expos, had the last owner not been so crazy to move Montreal’s team out and let the land for a new ballpark expire. What if the Expos kept their stars (if they could)? What if the new ballpark was built? We might never know, we might see another franchise in Montreal or we might not. Only time will tell.