The sports world is a funny place. I remember going down to Olympic Stadium in Montreal in the 80s and watching some pretty amazing ball games. The Expos were the kings of Montreal of that era and the team boasted some huge stars like Dawson, Carter, Cromartie and Valentine. Expos fans really loved those guys. They worshiped the ground they walked on. Some of the pennant and playoff races with the Dodgers, Pirates and Phillies are still considered classics by many baseball junkies Just as quickly as the glory came for the Expos, it faded. Close games gave way to routs and the success of the squad soon went down the tubes. Complacency set in and the stands stood empty on a nightly basis.
The yelling and screaming for the Expos on the diamond was replaced with bitching and complaining on local radio stations like CFCF and CJAD.
Calls came for a change of coaching, players, and finally ownership. The change of ownership argument was more pervasive than most fans thought and the team left for Washington in 2004. I remember when the Expos left town. No one cried and no one cared.
Washington greeted the team with open arms and the Expos became the Washington Nationals. The empty seats in Montreal were replaced with sold out crowds in D.C.. The long history of the Nationals gave the team perspective and allowed the players to dream of the excellence that was to come. This past season the Nationals surprised everyone expect themselves by winning their first division championship. The performance of players like Bryce Harper led them to the top of the standings and has left many people thinking that a dynasty could be in the making. I was happy to see them succeed like most fans were happy to see them succeed. The press in Montreal, however, was filled with praise for the team that the city “lost” as though the scribes could rewrite history.
These clowns took a great moment for a team like the Nationals and turned it into a lament for a time that had come and gone. The Nationals are no more the Expos that the Los Angeles Dodgers are the Brooklyn Dodgers. Montreal fans need to learn a lesson from the old Expos experience. Sports is a business but sports teams are a symbol of the community that needs tobe preserved and defended. Kids need players to look up to and the people need heroes to cheer for. Winning is the most important thing in sports but not the only thing. The Expos are long gone and the Nationals will continue to prosper. Montrealers need to make sure that the current dissatisfaction for the Habs doesn’t lead to Expos 2.0. History can never be rewritten but if you are attentive you can avoid having to repeat on you. In summation Go Nationals, Go Habs, and RIP Expos.