The other day I stumbled upon an article from CBS sports and it was not the happiest article that I found either. The article was titled “Baseball’s dying breed” and underneath it was a picture of Tim Raines. It was an article about the last remaining expos in the majors that wore an expos jersey. There are roughly about 15 players with an honourable mention towards an Expos great.
For those who are a tad younger and do not know who the Expos were, they were Montreal’s baseball team. They were nos amours with a history that had love and heartbreak and maybe not as much success as the hockey team the Montreal Canadiens, but many people loved the team. For a while the Expos were even considered Canada’s team and then the Toronto Blue Jays came around in 1977. For a while the two teams shared Canada, especially since they were in two different leagues. The Expos were in the National League and the Jays in the American League. Then the Jays passed the Expos in popularity and won 2 straight World Series in 1992-1993.
In 1994 the Expos were having a dream year it looked like the Expos were the team to beat and that the fans were coming out in full force to cheer on their team. Unfortunately the season ended prematurely because of the strike and all of the hopes of the Expos and their team were gone, just like that. Heartbroken, the team was slowly dismantled because of the ridiculous increase in salaries and great players that were meant to stay in Montreal for a long time were now gone. The strike upset and broke so many Expos fans hearts that they turned their back on a game that they once loved.
The great owner and frankly only good owner that the Expos ever had was Charles Bronfman. Bronfman had left in 1990 and gave the team to a group of 14 owners who were not able to run the team properly, or get a new stadium. Then a new owner stepped in, unfortunately he was no better (he will not be named this time around he does not deserve it) for the team. The government was no help at the time and refused to give money to help build a downtown stadium. I am still convinced to this day that a downtown stadium would have made all the difference for the team.
Some of the players that are still playing are Endy Chavez, Jamey Carroll, Juan Rivera, Livan Hernadez, Scott Downs and Maicer Izturis. These are the players that were on the team in the final season. Miguel Batista and Ted Lily both came out of the Expos franchise and would have better careers in Toronto and other places, the same could be said for Downs as well. The list goes on and also contains Bartolo Colon a name that puts a bitter taste in a lot of Expos fans mouths. Colon was a good player and his half season he played in Montreal was great, but the people that were given up for him were Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore, all players who could have helped this team if that trade never had happened and if the team had survived. Gone are the names that meant something in the late 90’s and early 2000; Javier Vazquez, Michael Barret, Jose Vidro, Orlando Cabrera and of course Vlady!
The Expos played their final season in 2004, breaking so many Expos fans hearts one last time. The 1994 strike is one of the things that devastated the team. They lost too many fans by that point and then awful ownership made it worse. Many of us wish that it could have went the other way and that a good owner had shown up and that we could still have a team and that this year we would retire Vladimir Guerrero’s number into the new baseball stadium but right now that is just a dream. Vlad of course is the honorable mention on the list, he is one of the greatest Expos up there with Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Rusty Staub. Funny enough those four names now sit in the rafters in the Montreal Canadiens home of the bell center on a banner honoring the team. I think that they need to take the banner down and add one more name to it, Guerrero.
I want people who read this article to check out something called the Montreal Baseball Project which is run by Warren Cromatie. Cro is trying to bring grassroots baseball back to Montreal, in hopes that it could spark a new MLB franchise in the city. I invite you to look at the website and support this idea because for anyone who knew the Expos and for anyone who loved the Expos no matter what, then supporting Cromatie and his plans will be a great start in to bringing a team back to Montreal. I know I support it 100%, will you?
This is the link of the article that talks about the remaining players