The roster of the departed is as dazzling is it is dispiriting.
- Pedro Martinez, 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, traded after winning the 1997 National League Cy Young to the Boston Red Sox for the oft-injured Carl Pavano;
- Five-tool right fielder Vladimir Guerrero, who arrived in 1996, quickly became a perennial MVP candidate and finally won the award in 2005, his first season with the then-Anaheim Angels;
- Oufielder Larry Walker graduated to the club in 1989, batted .322 in 1994, then left for a 10-year stint with the Colorado Rockies, where he won three batting titles and the 1997 MVP award;
- Closer John Wetteland left after '94, then saved 74 games for the New York Yankees over the next two years, the second of which was a championship season;
- plus '94 All-Star pitcher Ken Hill and All-Star outfielder Marquis Grissom and, later, All-Star outfielder Moises Alou;
- and after the 2004 season, the entire franchise, removed to Washington as the Nationals.
|La serie soulement.|
Their high-water mark was the strike-torn 1981 season. A microcosm of Expos' history, it ended sadly.
After finishing 10 games below. 500 in 1978, they burst into the upper echelon of the NL East, winning 95 games the next year and finishing two back of the eventual World Champion Pittsburg Pirates. Attendance at their cavernous concrete saucer, Olympic Stadium, jumped too, from 1.4 million to 2.1 million.
Finally, amid the rubble of the '81 split season, the Expos finished first in it's second half and then beat the Phillies in the first and last NL East Division Series for the right to play the Los Angeles Dodgers for the flag.
Rookie sensation Fernando Valenzuela started for the Dodgers. His opponent was journeyman Ray Burris, who'd out pitched the phenom in game 2, shutting out L.A., 3-0. Each allowed only allowed a single run scored on a ground ball out. After eight innings, the score stood 1-1.
Expos rookie manager Jim Fanning summoned Rogers, a starter who'd gone 12-8 during the abbreviated campaign, to pitch the ninth. He retired Garvey on a first-pitch pop up, then third-sacker Ron Cey on a deep fly to left.
What happened next may have been the first domino in the long chain of events that destroyed the Expos.
Blue Monday, they called it. To this day, it remains the closest the Expos and their lineal descendants, the Nationals, have ever gotten to the World Series.
Attendance climbed to 2.3 million in '82 and '83, but the team's performance slipped, triggering an era of rebuilding. Carter departed, as did Dawson and Raines, but eventually new heroes arrived. Another strike, in '94, ended the season at mid-year with the Expos holding a suddenly worthless 74-40 record, the best in baseball.
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