DXMachina (dxmachina) wrote,

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The Montreal Expos, R.I.P.

The Montreal Expos won their division exactly twice in their thirty-five year existence. The first time was in 1981, when the season was interrupted by a midseason player strike. At the time of the strike, the Phillies were in first place, and the Expos were in third. When the strike was settled, the Lords of Baseball decided to restart the season from scratch, and the Expos came in first in the second half, with the Phillies finishing third. Meanwhile the Cardinals finished second in both halves, and had the best overall record of the three teams, but didn't make the playoffs. The Expos beat the Phils in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the Dodgers in the NLCS. (The Dodgers went to beat the Yanks in the Series.)

The only other time the Expos won their division was in 1994, when they had the best record in baseball. Except there was another player strike, and that one wasn't settled. The playoffs and World Series were cancelled. They had no place to go.

That was it for the Expos. They have always had a pretty good development system, and were competitive for a long time because of it, but once free agency began they were never able to keep their best players. They had the worst ballpark in the majors, and they couldn't compete economically with American teams. They became the second team in the modern era to go bankrupt.

So now they're going to move to Washington. Washington has already had and lost two teams. The original Washington Senators were doormats. "Washington, first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." Just as they got to be competitive, they moved to Minnesota after the '60 season. The American League replaced them the next season with an expansion team, also called the Senators. So the fans in Washington essentially had their entire team, which had some pretty good young players on it (Harmon Killebrew and Jim Kaat, for two) traded out from under them for a collection of rookies and has beens. The new Senators finished with a winning record exactly once (4th place in 1969) before they moved to Texas in 1972 and became the Rangers.

The big question is what are they going to name the team? I doubt very much they'll keep the Expo name. It's too Montreal centric. They could go with Senators, except that the Senators were an American League team, and this team will be in the National League. Also, and probably more to the point, the Rangers still own the rights to the Senators name. Why would anyone want to pay compensation to another team to use a name that is synonymous with losing. The Senators also occasionally went by the Nationals, or the Nats, which would fit nicely with the National League, and the thought of 30,000 fans all screaming "Go Nats" pleases the twelve year-old in me.
Tags: baseball
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