Expos Clinch NL East in Parallel, Superior Universe

(Author’s note: it’s late, and I’ve just consumed several glasses of port and several hours of Comedy Central’s horrible, repetitive advertisements. The mixture has put me in a melancholy mood. Verily warned, therefore, be ye.)

Last night, the Washington Nationals secured first place in the National League, bringing playoff baseball to our nation’s capital for the first time since 1932. Washington fans have been waiting their entire lives to see this day. Or, they’ve been waiting eight years.

The mark of Montreal has been effectively wiped from the franchise. After the departure of Livan Hernandez, no current National has ever donned the Montreal uniform. Only fourteen former Expos played in the major leagues in 2012; their most able veteran was Jamey Carroll, whose 2.2 WAR is reflected primarily through his ability to field grounders at shortstop. Eventually, they too will shuffle off.

Growing up, I never held strong feelings about the Expos. They belonged to a different league, different time zone, and their red-white-and-blue uniforms seemed a little garish. I couldn’t figure out their logo, and their best player in the late 80s, Tim Raines, was a threatening approximation of my own favorite player, Rickey Henderson.

But as a Seattleite, I can empathize with Montreal. We don’t talk about other sports here very often, what with it being a baseball site and all, but growing up I was a big Sonics fan. I watched as a struggling franchise with a decrepit home arena was dragged away by a loathsome owner. Of course, I was upset. Like many, I declared the NBA dead to me, swore my hatred of the OKC Thunder and their stupid powder blue uniforms and their ironic glasses and backpacks and their dumb faces.

That’s the way you’re supposed to feel. That’s the way everyone feels, as they turn towards each other, nurturing their identical hurt, looking for solace. You have to hate the team that left you; anything else is betrayal. But I missed basketball, and the players were mostly the same, and the general manager was a guy “they” hired while they were still “us”. The team wasn’t my team anymore, but they were an offspring. It was hard not to think of them as at least still partially, somehow, my own, even as the roster slowly turned over. And so, without admitting it, I kept track of my former team, even, maybe, rooted for them a little bit. A little.

It’s only been five years for the Sonics, and there’s talk of moving a new team here. It’s been eight for the Expos, and that talk has come and gone. Montreal lacks even an independent league ballclub, and declarations of stadium construction have dulled to an intermittent whisper. The domain montreal-expos.com is dead, and can be purchased by anyone who makes an offer.

Still, I imagine that there are more than a few fans who read the headlines this morning, or maybe even watched the game last night (sad thought: at least, by losing the franchise, they were now able to watch them on mlb.tv without getting blacked out). And as they watched, maybe a few felt like they’d finally won a little piece of that division that they’d never, in thirty-six years, quite grasped. Maybe they felt ashamed of themselves for being happy, felt foolish for even considering this franchise, the one that abandoned them, as somehow still partially their own.

To them I say: it’s okay. Don’t make excuses. Don’t self-flagellate. People go crazy over sim leagues and fantasy teams. Take from the game what you want, and make the Nationals yours. Enjoy what your team accomplished this season, in whatever alternative reality it happened.




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Patrick Dubuque is a wastrel and a general layabout. Many of the sites he has written for are now dead. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.


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Kyle
Member
3 years 11 months ago

As a fellow Seattleite, I also empathize with Montreal a great deal and feel a strange kinship to former Expos fans. However, while I very much appreciate a number of Zombie players, and especially their front office, my anger over losing the Sonics has manifested in pure, unrelenting hatred of the team while on the court. In the most recent NBA playoffs, I honestly think I rooted against the Zombie’s as hard as I’ve ever rooted for a Seattle team. It was ugly and petty of me, no doubt, but it was real and I put in a lot of effort. When the Heat demolished them in the Finals, I felt a great deal of joy, and relief. May the Thunder be the Buffalo Bills of the NBA. May Clay Bennett feel the most intense pain of losing on a yearly basis.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan
3 years 11 months ago

Hoo, I think it just got a little dusty in here.

Larry
Guest
Larry
3 years 11 months ago

Excellent article. Can anyone help me figure out the 14 former ‘spos? We have Carroll, livan, Schnieder, did Endy play in 2012? Orlando cabrera? Who else am I missing?

DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy
Guest
DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy
3 years 11 months ago

As i told some Seattle fan, we’ll give you the Clippers for your top 5 Mariner prospects and some cash :P

Phrozen
Guest
Phrozen
3 years 11 months ago

elb is dead. Long live elb.

Expos RIP
Guest
Expos RIP
3 years 10 months ago

Being an Expos fan (growing up in the 80s/90s) was always an emotional roller coaster ride. Our players would sweat and bleed for Montreal every season. And every off-season, there would be a fire sale with the best ones (close to free agency) dealt away for a combination of young prospects and aging veterans. The next year, the pattern repeated itself along with the cheers and jeers.

It also seemed the baseball Gods had it in for us. The seasons where we were the pinnacle of baseball, there was a strike (’81 and ’94) or some other divine intervention that dashed our hopes (Blue Monday in ’81). To this day, there remain conspiracy theories about the ’94 season that the powers of basesball, namely Selig, Fehr (who is also keeping hockey from us this year) and big money, wanted to prevent a Canadian team from winning the World Series for a third consecutive year. In 2003, Selig stiffed us from calling up players from the farm – talk about the loss of the Corinthian spirit in sport. And there were owners with hidden agendas rather than the team’s best interest at heart.

As Expos fans, we got used to seeing (and even secretly cheering) ‘Expos stars’ reach their potential in other cities such as Pedro Martinez in Boston and (Canadian) Larry Walker in Colorado. It was heartening to see Andre Dawson and Gary Carter inducted in Cooperstown as Expos – a little poetic justic to the baseball Gods.

For me, baseball remains nostalgic. Given the rollercoaster ride over the years, it’s easier for me to recognize the Nationals achievement (to date) this year despite it being bitter-sweet. I will be rooting for them to overcome the hurdles put up by the baseball Gods and live out my Expos dreams vicariously through them.

PS. I, for one, appreciate this article and knowing there are 15 players still around (I had counted much less).
PSS. Hopefully, Vlaidimir Guerrero returns next season and there will be 16.

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