The thin ties between Les Expos and the World Champion Nationals.https://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/nationals-ceased-expos-long-ago-thin-ties-still-bring-joy/Nationals ceased being Expos long ago, but thin ties still bring joy
I spent the best nine years of my newspaper career covering the Expos, but I’d already moved on when they played their final game at Olympic Stadium on Sept. 29, 2004, emotionally and physically.
I’d switched newspapers, moved to Hamilton to work out of Toronto, but still kept my hands in Expos coverage. I wasn’t a Montreal native. Shoot, truth is I was way more of a Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds fan than Expos fan growing up. But I had – have – friends in the city and when your child is born in a place, well, you have a tie that lasts.
Mostly what I remember about that night was a feeling of guilt: I knew that for me, at least, there’d be Major League Baseball to cover on a daily basis in 2005 in Toronto. I’d tired, frankly, of chronicling the slow demise of the Expos and had, I think, a different view of things than most. I saw Jeffrey Loria and David Samson as opportunists. I wrote when they bought into the Expos that only a blind optimist couldn’t see where it was going: that Loria, who had been a finalist in an auction court battle for Baltimore Orioles and still lived in New York City, had bought an asset that was on wheels, and that barring a dramatic infusion of local money and political will, it was only a matter of time before they were gone. I didn’t see the whole franchise swap that saw Loria eventually get the Florida Marlins and John Henry get the Boston Red Sox, and Major League Baseball take over the club and eventually relocate it to Washington, D.C. – which is celebrating the franchise’s first-ever World Series victory on Wednesday.
I mean, you have to really stretch for ties: manager Dave Martinez was the first player acquired by David Dombrowski when he was general manager of the Expos, joining the team on July 14, 1988, in a trade for Mitch Webster. Martinez played 431 games for the Expos before being traded for John Wetteland. Nationals third base coach Bob Henley was drafted in the 26th round in 1991, appeared in 41 career games, spent a second with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor leaguer – then moved into minor league coaching and managing with the Nationals/Expos. Club broadcaster F.P. Santangelo is not only one of the most popular former Expos. He gets bonus points for being one of the most popular members of the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx when they were the Expos chief affiliate.
There is some affinity, I guess, for baseball fans in both cities in that they understand loss: Washington, after all, lost the Senators twice. But let’s be clear: Blue Monday? The players’ strike of 1994? No resonance in D.C. None.
Right now, I’m happy feeling what I feel about baseball, the Nationals … and Montreal. My baseball home.