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Are you a Montreal Baseball fan? Or wait, let me rephrase that! Were you a Montreal Baseball fan?
20 years ago, on August 12, 1994, the eighth stoppage in baseball history occurred! Great timing, right? The Montreal Expos, at that point, were cruising to their best season in their existence, but unfortunately, the season was infamously stopped by a strike. After 114 games, the Expos had the best record in baseball! At 74–40, they were six games ahead of their arch rival Atlanta Braves and all of that despite having the second-lowest payroll in MLB. All this, after a slow start to the season (4-9).
When the strike hit Moises Alou lead the team with 22 home runs (in 2014, that would be tied for 3rd in the NL). Larry Walker was the team leader with 86 RBI (that would be 1st in the NL), and the Moises Alou also lead the team with 143 hits (that would be 2nd in the NL)! Ken Hill lead the Expos with 16 wins (16-5, and 16 wins would be 1st in the NL). After 15 starts, Butch Henry had a 2.43 ERA (that would be 4th in the NL).
The Expos were not the only team to be robbed by the 1994 work stoppage, the Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, Reds, and Dodgers were all atop their divisions, and had high hopes for a long playoff run and a World Series championship. It would have been the Expos' second playoff trip, and coincidentally, the only other time that the Expos actually made it to the postseason was in 1981, and that was the last time there a significant players' strike in Major League Baseball.
The Montreal Expos steady decline had begun, Claude Brochu, the President of the Montreal Expos, and Kevin Malone, the General Manager, had no choice but to begin to dismantle the great team of 1994. With the disastrous state of the Canadian dollar, the Expos could not afford to pay its players and started the so called "fire sale". Key players like Larry Walker, John Wetteland, Ken Hill, and Marquis Grissom either left via free agent or were traded.
There was hope, because an American art dealer bought the Montreal Expos and bursted onto the scene in style. He began by signing/trading for 3 high profile players (Graeme Lloyd for $3,000,000, Hideki Irabu's $4,125,000 contract and Lee Stevens's $3,500,000 contract). However, some people from the beginning doubted his intentions. The total sum of these 3 contracts was nearly 50% of the entire 1999 Montreal Expos payroll.
MLB's owners voted to eliminate two teams, according to various sources, the Expos and the Minnesota Twins, both of which reportedly voted against the motion.
Although their attendance increased from a measly 7,935 per game in 2001 to 10,031 in 2002, MLB decided that the Montreal Expos would play 22 of their home games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2003. That was another heart breaker and the downward spiral didn't stop there!
MLB announced that the Montreal Expos franchise would move to Washington, D.C. for 2005 and they did just that.
On Youtube.com, Annakin Slayd released "Remember (A Tribute to the Montreal Expos), a video compilation of the 1994 Montreal Expos.