The Expos Move to Washington
knew it was coming sometime. Major League Baseball announced the Expos are
leaving Montreal. Perhaps the only surprise is that it took this long.
years of poor attendance records the move was inevitable. What a cry of
desperation it was to even have the Expos host a portion of their home schedule
in Puerto Rico. Imagine having to explain that to our kids! A baseball team
switching home facilities between the Great White North and the Caribbean. Les
Expos becoming Los Expos.
population in Montreal truly never recovered from the 1994 strike. The Expos
were in first place and the average nightís attendance was higher than it had
been in over ten years, since the days of Tim Raines, Andre Dawson and Tim
Wallach. Canít forget Floyd Youmans or Bryn Smith.
three following seasons, one-quarter of the fan base had fallen off. And by the
1998 season another 25% left. Neither of those groups came back. In fact, Expos
management didnít have much room to spare as it was, let alone losing half the
fan base in four years. It has now been two decades since the Expos were not
in the bottom third of National League attendance figures. They couldnít
afford to lose any, yet they ended up losing half.
attempt to increase attendance by hosting games in Puerto Rico wore off quickly.
Sellouts were often early. By the second season the Expos were there, the
novelty wore off and those who were financially able to only attend a couple
games had already done so. Itís not like MLB went to a reservoir of riches and
people with deep pockets. How much disposable income did they expect the locals
not all to the fault of the fans. MLB sure didnít help. They started nailing
the coffin shut while there were still some readings of life. The way MLB
treated the Expos, the fans were never going to come back in Montreal. The first
nail was talk of contraction. The second nail was taking over the franchise. The
third nail was running the franchise into the ground. By this time, the fans in
Montreal had suffocated and burial was necessary.
thatís all in the past. What does the future hold for the franchise? Certainly
it looks more promising in Washington than it had been in Montreal. Honestly,
though, what wouldnít appear more promising than that?
it appears more promising, but how much is actually going to change? MLB still
runs the show. Ownership is not changing. MLB is only hoping that being in
Washington will make it look more presentable for prospective buyers. You know
that Orioles owner Peter Angelos will do everything he can to see to it that the
eventual buyer of the franchise moves them to another locale. Itís not
definite the franchise will even stay in Washington.
thatís all in the future. What about the present? Will we see a third edition
of the Senators? After all, the first two Washignton Senator franchises moved.
It could be quite fitting.
rivalries would include the Mets and Phillies, at least for the communities. The
rivalry wonít mean anything to the players. But donít tell me the people in
Philadelphia and New York donít already have resentment toward
Washington-based teams. Baseball is the only of the four major professional
sports leagues that doesnít have a division containing teams from Philly, New
York and the District. Well, ďdidnítĒ would be more appropriate.
have recently announced the hiring of Omar Minaya as GM. After working for MLB
as the Expos GM, perhaps some form of a rivalry could develop there. But how
good a job did Minaya do in Montreal? They did overcheive at times. Perhaps that
was more due to manager Frank Robinson than the work of Minaya.
arguable the Minaya helped deconstruct the organization. The farm system is at
its weakest in years and the big league club is no longer competitive. Sure, MLB
placed constraints on Minaya that disallowed him to make a legitimate offer to
resign Vladimir Guerrero. Other cornerstone players like Javier Vazquez and
Orlando Cabrera were moved because they knew long-term deals were not possible.
Jose Vidro would appear to be next if status quo were to remain in the front
has Minaya done within his control? Well, heís turned some of baseballís
better prospects into borderline major leaguers. Consider some of Minayaís
Expos had a sniff of competitiveness in 2002, they acquired Bartolo Colon for
the stretch run. Wish them the best, but that was exactly a stretch. To acquire
Colon, Minaya gave up three players that could end up being the cornerstone of
the Indiansí next competitive team; outfielder Grady Sizemore, lefthanded
pitcher Cliff Lee and infielder Brandon Phillips. Colon gave Montreal a
productive half-season and was traded in the offseason for career minorleaguer
Jeff Liefer, reliever Rocky Biddle and pitcher Orlando Hernandez, who made zero
starts for Montreal in his one season as an Expo before resigning with the
Yankees before the 2004 season.
later, Minaya acquired Cliff Floyd for 19 days and 53 at-bats before trading him
to Boston. What was the final tally for those moves? The Expos gave up Carl
Pavano and spare parts for spare parts and mid-level and floundering prospects
in return. Minaya nearly vanquished all the quality prospects in the system
without doing much to build for the future. He sounds like the perfect fit for
you want to put the blame on the fans, MLB, or Expos management, or some
combination of each, it all led to this move to Washington. Now all we need is a
buyer who is willing to turn this mess around. Any takers?