The Angels post got a great response, even if they were tired of my picking on them for their name changes!
Well let's look at the Washington Nationals... a team that from 1969 to 2004 were known as the Montreal Expos.
And since 2005 they have one .500 season and three lousy seasons.
While one .500 season is more than the Pirates can claim since 1992, it would be impossible to populate two quality 25 man rosters using only Washington players. The Nationals have a hard enough time putting together ONE 25 man roster!
So this post is more of an honor of the Expos than it is for the Nats.
I've already expressed how much I miss the Expos and this post is one last salute.
As always the rules for the rosters can be found here.
So brush up on your French and learn the street names in Washington (and figure out if you are in the North, South, East or West part of town!)
LET'S WRITE A LIST!!!
ALL TIME HOME GROWN EXPOS-NATIONALS TEAM
When Gary Carter was elected to the Hall of Fame, he wanted his plaque to have a Mets cap on it. Granted he had 7 All Star seasons in Montreal including an MVP runner up season in 1980, three Gold Gloves, and RBI title and two All Star Game MVPs.
However he had his greatest moment of glory, the 1986 World Championship, as a member of the Mets.
But the Hall of Fame office now decides which cap goes on which plaque after the whole Dave Winfield exchanging the plaque for a job fiasco.
Normally I'd say let the players decide, but I am happy with the Hall of Fame's decision. There will be many players in the Hall with Mets caps on. But there may never be another player with that unusual "M" Expos logo.
It's worth being the lone Expo in the Hall, Gary.
And no I am not bitter about the 1986 World Series.
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
The Big Cat (Le Grand Chat) was huge in frame, nimble on the field and hit for average and power.
He came up with the Expos in the mid 1980s, became an All Star, a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner and was a fan favorite.
He took advantage of the thin air in Denver to pad his stats, went to Atlanta and continued to hit and then beat cancer in time for his second tour with the Expos in 2002.
Do you know what else he can do?
Paint! He does oil painting. Folks, the man can do it all.
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
DeShields looked like a superstar in the making. The former first round draft pick finished second to David Justice in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1990 and played a dynamic brand of baseball.
He hit for a high average and stole bases left and right. Granted he struck out way too much, but he looked like he could even improve into a bigger star.
The Dodgers certainly coveted him and felt it was worth dealing a talented young pitcher for him after the 1993 season.
The Dodgers got their man but he had his best years in Montreal.
The young pitcher the Expos got was named Pedro Martinez. His best years were ahead of him.
The late 1990s and early 2000s were a new golden age of great shortstops. And while everyone applauded A-Rod, Nomar, Vizquel, Jeter, Tejada and Renteria, one of the best ones played in obscurity north of the border.
Cabrera could hit. In 2003 he was second among NL short stops in batting average and slugging. He had some pop, three times getting double digits in home runs. He was durable, twice playing in all 162 games. But most importantly he could field.
Even playing without much coverage, he won the NL Gold Glove in 2001. When MLB refused to allow the Expos to recall minor league reinforcements for the 2003 stretch drive, Cabrera expressed his angry and wanted out of Montreal. Midway through 2004, he found himself in Boston in time for the Curse breaking stretch run and he is anonymous no more!
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
Bill James once called Tim Wallach a "Poor Man's Brooks Robinson."
OK, a very poor man maybe, but he has a point.
For years Wallach put up All Star numbers and piled up the Gold Gloves and even got a top 5 MVP finish in 1987, and yet he was unknown to everyone except die hard baseball fans.
His Baseball-Reference page compares him to Ron Cey.
So the guy has been compared to Brooks Robinson and Ron Cey.
Not bad company if you are a third baseman!
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
Say it with me folks...
TIM RAINES BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME!
And say this with me too...
HE SHOULD BE ELECTED NEXT YEAR!
I don't like this "Not a First Ballot Hall of Famer" garbage. You are a Hall of Famer or you are not.
He was the National League's best lead off hitter for a decade.
He was a batting champ, a four time stolen base champ, and led the league multiple times in runs, times on base and later won a few World Series rings.
And his performance on May 2, 1987 when he came back after collusion kept him off the roster for the first month was a glorious middle finger to the owners. With no spring training he went 4-5 including the single that sparked the game tying rally in the 9th against the Mets and a grand slam in the 10th to win it.
He's a Hall of Famer. Put him in in 2010.
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
And while you are voting for Tim Raines, stick his teammate Andre Dawson in the Hall too.
He won 6 of his 8 Gold Gloves and 3 of his 4 Silver Sluggers in Montreal.
Twice he was the MVP runner up while wearing an Expos uniform.
He is the only player in franchise history with 200 homers and 200 stolen bases. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1977 and set team records in home runs and RBI.
Throw in the fact that he was an MVP in Chicago and is in the 400 home run/300 stolen base club.
Who else is on that club?
Only Barry Bonds and Willie Mays. Good company to be in.
So he didn't walk as much as you'd like?
He had Al Oliver, Gary Carter and Tim Wallach batting behind him! Were pitchers supposed to put him on?
Insanity. Put Dawson in. Have a great day with Tim Raines and Andre Dawson in Cooperstown and tell you Sabermetic Jihadists to lighten up!
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
Little league and high school coaches around the country must cringe if they find out the kids they are coaching idolize Vladimir Guerrero.
Not that he's a bad guy. Far from it! He seems as classy and as humble a superstar as you could imagine.
But in this day and age when patience at the plate is preached and a knowledge of the strike zone is preached, Vlad spits in the face of all of that!
His strike zone seems to be from his eyes to 10 feet beneath the ground. From his ribs to 45 feet off of the plate.
If the ball leaves the pitchers hands, he's going to take a hack at it.
It wouldn't surprise me if he takes a hack at a pick off to first.
Yet despite being a power hitter with a huge swing, he never struck out 100 times in his career, including his 7+ seasons in Montreal. Throw in the 40 home run seasons, the 30+ stolen base seasons, two top 3 finishes in batting and the gun for an arm, he is the complete player.
But kids... when you watch him remember, "Don't try this at home."
TOP PINCH HITTER OFF OF THE BENCH
A Native of British Columbia, Walker seemed destined to lead the Expos into the post season and keep the World Series in Canada after two straight years in Toronto.
He was a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner in Montreal and had a knack for hitting the big homer.
Alas the dream of a World Series in 1994 was killed by the strike and Walker left Montreal to join Galarraga in the thin air of Denver.
Ah if only labor peace could have been found. Canada would have a national baseball hero!
THE STARTING ROTATION
In his 13 years with the Expos, Rogers made the All Star team 5 times and finished in the top 5 in the Cy Young voting three times. He is the franchise's career leader in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched.
But his greatest achievement came in the 1981 playoffs. The strike caused a new round of playoffs to determine the division champion and the Expos had to face off with the defending World Champion Phillies. In game 1, Rogers started against ace Steve Carlton. Despite giving up 10 hits and 2 walks, Rogers got the win letting up only 1 run over 8 2/3 innings.
When the series went the full 5 games, it was again Rogers vs. Carlton in the finale at Philadelphia. Rogers broke a scoreless tie himself with a 2 run single and then went the distance with a 6 hit shutout to clinch the only series the franchise has won in their first 40 seasons.
(Let's not bring up Rick Monday's homer.)
Some Expos players were born in Canada. But how many played for the French speaking fans were born in France?
A 16 game winner in 1982 and an All Star in 1983, his best career moment happened in 1981. On May 10th he threw a no hitter against the Giants.
His next start on May 16, also against the Giants, he finally let up a hit in the 3rd, but threw a complete game shut out for good measure. He then threw 7 shut out innings in his next start and let up 1 run in 7 his next start. That's 1 run in a thirty two inning stretch.
I wonder if they were following his game along the Champs Elysses.
On September 10, 1980 the Expos were playing the Cubs while they had a slim 1/2 game lead over the Phillies for the division title. Manager Dick Williams gave the ball to rookie Bill Gullickson, who had thrown a complete game shut out in his previous outing. How could he top that?
Gullickson struck out the Cubs lead off hitter Ivan DeJesus.
He then struck out 2 in the second.
The strikeouts kept piling up and after Gary Carter and Warren Cromartie hit back to back homers, Gullickson had the lead.
He struck out two of the three he faced in the 9th, finishing with 18 which at the time was a record for rookies.
The Expos would eventually lose the division lead to the Phillies... but you can't blame Gullickson, who would finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting that year and have a solid career in the bigs and in Japan.
Scott Sanderson must know he pitched in the wrong time. He was a solid if not spectacular pitcher who had a 16 win season for the Expos in 1980 and eventually made the All Star team.
He made good money during his career, but with seeing what even mediocre pitchers make on the open market, I am sure he could grind his teeth in frustration.
Or you can DO SOMETHING about it.
Scott Sanderson is now an agent. And I am guessing the 10% of some of his clients beats the $800,000 he used to make as a pitcher in the bigs!
Sanderson should represent Javier Vasquez!
Vasquez had a few good seasons and one terrific one for Montreal. In 2001 he won 16 games, led the league in shutouts and was among the league leaders in strikeouts. Mind you he did that for a 94 loss Expos team.
The Expos reaped the rewards of those good seasons and the Yankees, Diamondbacks and White Sox made him tens of millions of dollars.
Now the Braves signed him to a big contract. How big?
Let's just say 10% of it would more than pay for his agent's bills.
Urbina's post career saga is so bizarre, scary and tragic that it isn't worth going into detail about it. He's in prison for the next 14 years which I guess is what happens when you after people with a machete and try to pour gas on them.
As a player he was an All Star with the Expos and in 1999 he led the National League with 41 saves. Mind you the Expos only won 68 games that year, so he saved more than 60% of their wins.
Baseball-Reference doesn't list him as retired yet.
I think it is safe to say he has pitched his last game.
Can you imagine what family barbecues were like for Mel Rojas growing up? When I had family BBQs my aunts and uncles and cousins would come over and inevitably there would be a whiffle ball game.
Well Rojas' uncles include Felipe, Matty and Jesus Alou. Rojas' cousins includes Moises Alou. Four major leaguers, including 3 All Stars would be over there to play whiffle ball.
Well Mel Rojas would be able to hold his own no doubt. He was a reliable set up man, going 7-1 with a 1.43 ERA over 100 2/3 innings in 1992. When John Wetteland was dealt to the Yankees he took over the closers role and had back to back 30 save seasons. And on May 11th, 1994, he finished a game with a nine pitch, three strikeout performance over the Mets.
Bet he couldn't do that at the barbecue.
Dan Schatzeder was one of those pitchers who could always find a job because he was talented, he was left handed and he could do whatever job you needed.
You need him in the rotation? OK. He won 5 straight starts down the stretch in 1979 and on September 15, 1979 pitched the first 10 innings of the Expos 11 inning 2-1 victory over the Cardinals.
And on August 9, 1984 he threw a 10 inning shut out against the first place Cubs.
You need him to close out a game? On May 19, 1979 he pitched 4 innings of 1 hit ball to close out a game against the Phillies.
Need him to help save the bullpen? How about June 10, 1983 when he came in the game in the 11th and threw 4 no hit innings of relief?
He could do anything and he did it over 15 seasons, including two stints with the Expos and a World Series title with the Twins.
And over those 15 years he seemed to always be in every pack of baseball cards I ever bought!
Dale Murray had one of those seasons in 1975 that relievers just don't have any more. He won 15 games, 9th in the league, all in relief. He logged 111 1/3 innings and picked up 9 saves along the way. He didn't strike out many, but didn't walk many either and didn't allow a home run all season.
And there was no pattern for what kind of outings he'd have.
Sometimes he'd throw 2/3 of an inning for a save. Sometimes he'd pitch 5 innings for the win.
These days an agent would demand that a role be defined for him
These days the GM would put him on a pitch count.
Instead they just wore a reliever's arm down to the bone... AND THEY LIKED IT!
Hey look at that!
A Washington National!
He came up as an Expo but moved to DC and had a breakout season in 2005. He saved 47 and won 2 of the Nationals 81 wins. He logged a 1.82 ERA over 74 1/3 innings and along with Livan Hernandez would become the first All Stars to represent Washington since Frank Howard in 1971.
Who would have imagined it? In the Washington National entry, I would include a Washington National!!!
The Expos had losing seasons their first 10 years. But in 1979 their talented team came together to win 95 games and were in first place with 5 games left.
The big star on their turn around season was Parrish who hit .307 with 30 homers and a .909 OPS.
He would play two more seasons in Montreal before the emergence of Tim Wallach made him expendable and it was off to Texas.
But the first time the pennant race ever went north of the border, it was behind his leadership!
When the Expos stared down contraction and were owned by the 29 other teams, they put together two improbable Wild Card runs. Jose Vidro was one of the big reasons for their stunning winning seasons.
He was three time All Star and won the Silver Slugger in 2003.
And on April 14, 2005, at the first regular season game played in Washington since 1971, it was Vidro who doubled and scored the first run. It would be the run that put the Nats ahead for good that day.
There will be many more game winning runs scored for the Nats at home... but Vidro will always have the first.
Grissom was the Gold Glove winning keystone of the Expos outrageously talented outfield in the early 1990s. He had Moises Alou in left and Larry Walker in left. Meanwhile Grissom picked up some MVP votes in three straight seasons and led the NL in stolen bases in 1991 and 1992.
One of the most respected players of his generation and consistently considered one of the good guys and smartest players, he played for the World Champion Braves in 1995 and was the MVP of the 1997 ALCS while with the Indians.
He's now the first base coach for the Nationals. He's come home... sort of.
Cromartie was a beloved star in two countries... and neither one of them was America!
He put together 7 solid seasons in Montreal, being a complimentary hitter to the Andre Dawsons, Larry Parrishs and Gary Carters of the line up. He doubled off of Steve Carlton in game 1 of the 1981 Division Series to help spark the Expos to their first ever post season win.
Then after the 1983 seasons he signed with the Yomimuri Giants and became the highest profile American in Japanese baseball. He was named the MVP of the Japanese Central League in 1989.
He wrote the book Slugging it Out in Japan and is featured in the film Season of the Samurai.
I was disappointed when I found out it was not a Samurai epic but actually about baseball.
When MLB sent a team of All Stars to tour Japan in the off season after 2004, Expos Brian Schneider was selected to join them.
The strange thing was the Expos had already announced that they were moving to Washington to become the Nationals for the 2005 season. So while that team was traveling, the Expos name and franchise existed only as the uniform that Schneider was wearing it.
How appropriate that the team that was dragged between Montreal and San Juan in 2004 while their move was dragged out ended in a locker room in Japan.
Do you think Schneider felt the burden of the 1979 and 1980 near misses, the 1981 division winner, and the "what could have been" of 1994 on his shoulder as he took his uniform off for the last time?
Or do you think he threw it in the hamper and left?
I could have picked a lot of Expos for the 25th man. I almost put Ellis Valentine or Wil Cordero here and no doubt there are many who think I should have.
But I am putting Zimmerman in because I want this franchise to look forward.
They had an up and down, rocky and interrupted by labor strife existence. But they now have a real major league stadium for the first time in their franchise's history. They know they are going to be in Washington from now on. And with Ryan Zimmerman they may have their first home grown Washington star.
He started off in a blaze with his Rookie of the Year runner up season in 2006 and Christened Nationals Park with a walk off home run on opening day, 2008.
Sure it was practically the lone highlight for the Nationals 2008 season, but I am looking for the future.
With Obama in office, the key word in Washington these days is Hope.
Maybe Zimmerman can bring some hope to Washington baseball!
There's some solid home grown talent there... one in the Hall of Fame and two more who should be.
If they vote in Raines and Dawson and Guerrero keeps this up, this could be an All Hall of Fame outfield.
The Expos were better known for letting talent slip away, but did they ever take away any talent?
More talent than I think you realize!
ALL TIME ACQUIRED EXPOS-NATIONALS TEAM
Fletcher bounced around between the Dodgers and Phillies, not making much of an impression. And when he arrived in Montreal things didn't look that much better. But Felipe Alou, the manager, held a close door meeting with him.
Afterward, he became the starting catcher and even made the All Star team.
And this was no Mike Sharperson selection. The Expos sent 5 All Stars to the game that year, so he wasn't fulfilling a quota.
He was the Expos starting catcher for 6 years before joining the Blue Jays and staying north of the border for another five seasons.
I wonder what was said in that meeting!
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
I almost automatically put Tony Perez here.
And why not? Perez was a Hall of Famer and he came to Montreal after being on back to back World Series winners in Cincinnati.
But while he was a good player in Montreal, he wasn't the superstar slugger he was with the Reds nor his first season in Boston.
And "Scoop" Oliver put up much better numbers in Montreal. He came over in the Larry Parrish deal and his first year, 1982 finished third in the MVP voting. He won the batting title, led the league in hits and had an OPS of .906.
He also hit 22 homers and drove in 109 for those of you who like stats like that. And in the All Star Game played in Montreal, Oliver got two hits, one off of Dan Quisenberry, the other off of Rollie Fingers.
That's why I do my homework, my dear readers. I wouldn't want to disrespect Scoop!
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
The 1980 Expos were probably the best team in their history. They had Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Steve Rogers, Scott Sanderson, Larry Parrish, Ellis Valentine and many many talented players.
So who did manager Dick Williams call his MVP? Rodney Scott!
His batting average was only .224! How was he even a good player?
Stats can lie. And Scott's speed (he had 63 stolen bases) and ability to make things happen on the base paths (his 13 triples led the league) and smart play (he was among the league leaders in sacrifices) gave him value beyond the box score.
The writers saw this as he got some MVP votes that year.
Bill Lee saw it as his outburst after the Expos cut Scott in 1982 led to his dismissal and effectively the end of his career.
Sometimes value can't be quantified by stats. I trust Dick Williams. He's in the Hall of Fame and chances are you are not!
For a while the Mets had an outfielder named Mookie and a third baseman named Hubie and an outfielder named Strawberry. It sounds less like a foundation for a Championship ball club and more like characters from a Sid and Marty Kroft show.
Hubie Brooks was traded to the Expos in the Gary Carter trade and he shifted to shortstop.
There he became a right handed power hitter and a 100 RBI man, which was rare for shortstops then... at least shortstops not named Ripken!
Later he returned to the Mets, but it was too late. Mookie was in Toronto and Strawberry was in Los Angeles.
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
Bailey was a decent player who played 6+ seasons for the Pirates and Dodgers before his contract was purchased by the Expos for their first season in 1969.
In 1970 he broke out and hit 28 homers and would have three 20+ home run seasons for the Expos all the while being among the league leaders in walks.
Back then nobody thought much of that combination. These days fantasy players would snatch him up in a heart beat!
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
Alou was picked up by the Expos from the Pirates system but it didn't look like it was going to work out.
He missed the entire 1991 season due to injury and started the 1992 season on the bench.
He got a few pinch hits when the manager Tom Runnells decided to start him on April 26. He went 3 for 3 raising his average to .714. You would think that would have earned him another start.
Nope. He stayed on the bench through mid May.
Runnels was canned 37 games into the season and he was replaced by Moises' dad Felipe.
Felipe stuck his son in the starting line up the rest of the season and the Expos went 70-55 the rest of the way.
Alou finished second to Eric Karros in the Rookie of the Year voting and went on to a great career including a third place finish for the 1994 MVP.
Good thing his dad took over!
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
The best way to describe Mitch Webster is he was a poor man's Brett Butler.
(The center fielder, not the comic.)
He was a prototype white guy with speed. He had a good average and good defense acting as a spark plug to the 1986 and 1987 Expos team with 30+ stolen bases. Plus he would bat second and would allow Tim Raines to move to the third spot.
Let's see the comedienne do that!
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
The experiment of putting baseball in Quebec was worth it if for no other reason than to give Rusty Staub one of the coolest nicknames in baseball history.
Le Grande Orange!
I mean he already had a cool nickname in Rusty. It's certainly a cooler name than Daniel Staub.
And he was already an All Star in Houston when he came over to the Expos for their inaugural season.
But he became the Expos first superstar. He hit 29 homers in 1969 and 30 in 1970... all the while terrorizing swimmers in that pool just beyond the right field fence at Jarry Park.
He was the first Expo named to the All Star team and despite playing on lousy clubs, he got some points in the MVP votes for 1969 and 1971 before becoming a hero for the Mets.
And the nickname stuck. No matter what language you spoke or where he played, he was forever Le Grande Orange.
Folks, that is cool!
TOP PINCH HITTER OFF OF THE BENCH
You can't blame Nationals GM Jim Bowden for wanting to make a splash. The Nationals were not exactly a hard ticket to get going into their second season in DC. So he decided to bring a superstar to the Nats and he traded for Soriano.
There was a problem. They already had a second baseman and manager Frank Robinson put him in left field. Soriano didn't want to go to left field and refused to take his position in a spring training game.
Not the best start for the new star in his new home on the last year of his contract.
Soriano lightened up and decided to listen to his Hall of Fame manager and had a 40 home run, 40 steal season and made the All Star Team... and had as much of a chance of resigning with the Nationals as he I would have winning American Idol.
So Jim Bowden HAD to trade him at the deadline. He could get near big league talent in exchange for him.
But Bowden held firm that he was keeping his gate attraction. Soriano bolted for the Cubs and the Nationals got two draft picks.
No pressure on pitchers Josh Smoker and Jordan Zimmerman... but you are all the Nationals have to show for the Soriano experiment!
THE STARTING ROTATION
Dodger Blues considers the Delino Deshields for Pedro Martinez trade not only one of the worst deals in Dodgers history but also one of the worst in the history of baseball.
Can you blame him?
Can you imagine Pedro, who won the first of his three Cy Youngs in Montreal, becoming the next great Dodger ace in Chavez Ravine? Along side Koufax and Drysdale and Sutton and Valenzuela and Hershiser there would be Pedro. And Pedro would be better than all of them except for Koufax.
His final season in Montreal, 1997 was as good as any season you will ever see in the history of baseball.
In the height of the steroid era, Pedro posted a 1.90 ERA when the league average was 4.17.
He won 17 games for a team with a losing record. He struck out 305 batters and walked only 67 in 233 2/3 innings.
And he pitched 13 complete games.
The next year he moved on to Boston and became a legend. In 1999 he actually topped his 1997 season.
Delino Deshields left the Dodgers before Pedro's 1997 Cy Young season.
In July of 1991, my mother, father and I visited my brother at USC. We decided to go to a game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. In the Friday game, the day before our game, Mark Gardner threw 9 no hit innings but the game went scoreless in the 10th. Gardner pitched in the 10th but let up 2 hits and got a hard luck loss.
We saw the Saturday game, which was kind of an uneventful 7-0 complete game shutout by Bob Ojeda.
We listened to the Sunday afternoon game while taking a drive. Dennis Martinez, El Presidente, was pitching. He seemed like a washed up pitcher when his Baltimore days ended in 1986 and the Expos took a flier on him. He had a revival in Montreal and was good for 10 to 15 wins a year.
But that day he was more than reliable. He was perfect.
The Dodgers went 1-2-3 each inning and my dad and I couldn't believe another Expos pitcher was flirting with a no hitter. And , like with Gardner, the Expos couldn't score for him as it was 0-0 going into the 7th. But Larry Walker's 2 out triple in the 7th scored Martinez of all people and Walker himself scored on the next play. They would be the only runs the Expos scored all weekend, and they were unearned.
Martinez completed the perfect game by getting Chris Gwynn, Tony's brother, to pop up.
We listened to the end of the game and couldn't believe it. We could have gone to a spoiled no hitter and we could have gone to a perfect game. Instead all we saw was a boring complete game shut out.
Viva El Presidente.
A quick bit of research tells me that Bryn Smith is pals with the band RUSH and used to drive to New York state to buy Doritos.
One fact is incredibly cool and one fact is incredibly pathetic.
So the scales need to tip one way or the other.
Is he a cool guy who happens to love Doritos too much.
Or is he a dope who happens to be pals with RUSH.
Well, he was a major leaguer and had a few solid seasons, including an 18-5 campaign in 1985 where he posted a 2.91 ERA in 222 1/3 innings pitched.
I guess good major league pitcher tips the scales to "Cool."
Mark Langston was the biggest piece of trade bait in years just dangling out there in 1989. The Mariners knew he was going to bolt via free agency and they knew they could get a haul for him. The Mets were dangling Rick Aguilera and the package that would ultimately land Frank Viola.
The Red Sox were rumored to be considering parting with some of their young talent. Possibly Mike Greenwell.
But the Expos stunned everyone sending three relatively unknown pitchers to Seattle. And for a while the Expos looked like buyers and a playoff team. Langston gave them instant post season aspirations. He won his first game, striking out 12 in 8 innings. In his 4th start he threw a complete game shutout, one of four he threw for Montreal.
When he was on, so were the Expos. He started 10-3 in Montreal and the Expos had a 3 game lead on August 3rd.
Then the wheels came off. Langston went 2-6 the rest of the way and the Expos fell out of first place on August 7th. They finished 81-81 and Langston bolted to California.
It was a bold move that for a while looked like was going to spark the Expos into the playoffs and it was rare and should be applauded especially since it only cost the Expos 3 obscure pitchers.
Granted, one of those pitchers was Randy Johnson, but who is keeping track?
You think I am putting Bill Lee on the team as a shameless way to plug the film Spaceman which features your pal Sully?
Well that's not the ONLY reason.
But when the Lee was dumped for the immortal Stan Papi, he led the Expos in 1979 with 16 wins. He threw 222 innings and helped lead the Expos to their first ever winning season. All the while Manager Dick Williams (who is in the Hall of Fame) realized what Don Zimmer (who is a Hall of Fame idiot) never could figure out: You let the Spaceman be the Spaceman, and he'll deliver.
Now please enjoy this post game interview with Lee from 1979 and buy the Spaceman video.
There was nothing flashy about Tim Burke. He didn't have a cool nickname. He didn't have bad ass facial hair. He didn't have Kent Tekulve like Coke Bottle glasses. He didn't do wild gestures on the mound like Dennis Eckersley.
He just calmly and reliably closed out games. First he was Jeff Reardon's set up man. Then when Reardon was dealt, he took over the closer's role and posted a 1.19 ERA over 91 innings. He went 7-0 and saved 18 games. By 1989 he was an All Star, going 9-3 with 28 saves.
And after being dealt to the Mets and later the Yankees, he left baseball all together to raise his adopted children and he wrote a book about it.
I admire him of course, but Tim... if you pitched a few more years you could have had a ride on the post strike bonanza for pitchers salaries. Do you know what can help in raising kids? MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!
Just a tip from Sully, a father of two.
This is the fourth time I have Jeff Reardon on one of these teams. First with the Red Sox, second with the Mets and third with the Twins.
Arguably his best years were with the Expos where he was the Rolaids Relief award winner in 1985, made the All Star team twice and saved 20 or more games 5 straight seasons.
I'm not going to put him on the Braves team, nor the Reds nor Yankees. This is my last tip of the cap to the super talented and now tragic former relief star.
The Reds traded away one of the star players of the 1980s in Eric Davis, but they could see he was going to be a big health risk. The Dodgers wanted him to play along side his childhood pal Darryl Strawberry and sent starting pitcher Tim Belcher and a prospect named John Wetteland.
It was a total steal for the Reds. Wetteland would develop into a premiere reliever and MVP candidate, posting save totals in the 30s, keeping his ERA well under 3 and one year under 2. He would have more strikeouts than innings pitched each year and one year won 9 games to go along with 43 saves and a 1.37 ERA.
The trouble for the Reds is he would do all of that with the Expos.
Wetteland never spent a day in a Reds uniform. The Reds, not realizing they had a future World Series MVP in their control traded him to the Expos three weeks after they got him from the Dodgers.
These deals took place in the off season, so it is unlikely Wetteland even bought a Reds cap.
Sometimes a GM can out smart himself!
Why don't teams listen to Mike Marshall? He's a doctor now and claims that he has a method that prevents pitchers from breaking down. If I ran a club I'd listen to him.
In a time when team's are coddling their pitchers, or worse yet panicking the way the Yankees have so incompetently handled Joba Chamberlain, Marshall would go out there and pitch every day. He had two top 4 finishes for the Cy Young Award while pitching out of the Montreal bullpen.
He would throw triple digit innings, win 14 games a year, save 23 one year, 18 another and 31 yet another season.
He would go on to win the Cy Young award with the Dodgers. He claims he knows the key.
Yet nobody listens...
Seriously after watching another generation of pitchers breakdown, how could it hurt to listen to him?
Fassero was kicked around between the Cardinals, Indians and White Sox before he even saw a game in the major leagues. He made his debut with the Expos in May of 1991 and I can't imagine there was much expectation for the former 22nd round pick.
He turned into first a super reliable middle reliever, keeping his ERA under 3, picking up some saves and letting up a total of two homers over two seasons.
In July of 1993 he was moved to the rotation where he became a reliable if not spectacular starting pitcher who finished in the top ten for the 1996 Cy Young while in Montreal.
He went on to be a reliable reliever and starter for the Mariners, the Cubs and Cardinals... the team that originally drafted him in the 22nd round.
The one time Twins star was the first well known new name to come to Washington when the franchise moved. And the first season there was not his best. He had to have a torrid September to bring his average up to .219.
And after missing the 2006 season and most of the 2007 season, the Nats first free agent signing looked like a total bust.
But he came back with an all around solid 2008. He finished among the league leaders in batting and in hits.
And on May 3, Guzman homered, hit the game winning double and finished going 4-5 with 6 RBI.
He represented the Nationals in the All Star Game that year.
Maybe it wasn't such a bad signing after all.
For those of you who worship on base percentage, may I present to you Ron Hunt.
A quick glance at Hunt's stats show he is a nice player who had a nice 12 year career, made a few All Star games and got some MVP votes.
But he got hits. Not many base hits. He was hit by pitches. A lot of them. More than anyone in history until Don Baylor and Craig Biggio came around.
Now Baylor I can understand. He was a big strong hitter who crowded the plate. Biggio I understand because he played a billion years and had tons of armor on.
But why Ron Hunt? Why a light hitting middle infielder?
Maybe it was a fluke. He liked to say "Some gave their body to science, I gave mine to baseball."
But the infielder who got some MVP votes when he was on the 1973 Expos got on base, even if it wasn't always pretty.
Singleton was a New York native and Hofstra grad who broke in with the Mets and is now calling games for the Yankees.
So some associate him with New York.
He was an All Star and twice a legit MVP candidate with the Orioles, where he played with the 1983 World Champs. So some associate him with Baltimore.
But his first great season was in 1973 with the Expos. He batted .302 with 23 homers, 103 RBI and an OPS of .904. Plus he drew 123 walks, second in the league.
Later he was an announcer for the Expos.
Safe to say I am sure some people associate him with Montreal.
It's easy to think that after the strike of 1994, the Expos just faded away and didn't compete again. That's simply not true. In 1996, two years after the strike, the Expos won 88 games and almost won the Wild Card.
One of the big stars of the new Expos was Henry Rodriguez, who made the All Star team and had a knack for the big home run.
He led the club in homers, RBI and OPS and started a new tradition.
When he homered, fans would throw O'Henry bars onto the field.
There weren't many fans in the stands, so it never caused much of a safety hazard.
When he later played for the Cubs, fans tried doing it there, but it became a safety hazard and the practice was stopped.
Who knew they would allow more fun at Stade Olympique than at Wrigley Field.
I apologize to Chris Widger who I originally had here. But I like the story of Jesus Flores. He is a hard nosed catcher with some power and quickly is becoming a fan favorite in Washington. He won the Heart and Hustle Award in 2008 and some scouts think he can become an All Star.
The best thing for Washington fans? He was swiped in the Rule 5 draft from the Mets. Presumably Omar Minaya left him unprotected to keep a 40 year old on the roster.
When I think of Ron Fairly I think of him as a big slugger for the Dodgers... or maybe as the announcer of the Giants when I first moved to the Bay Area.
But I guess I should think of him as an All Star for Canada.
He was traded by the Dodgers to the Expos when LA wanted Maury Wills back. (Maury Wills was an Expo?) And in 1973 after 15+ seasons in the bigs, he finally made the All Star Team. He batted .298 with 17 homers and was second in the league for on base percentage.
Later he played for the original Blue Jays team and was their All Star representative.
He was the only guy to play on the All Star team for two Canadian team.
And unless they put a team in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, it's safe to say nobody will ever join him on that list!
WHO WOULD WIN A HEAD TO HEAD SERIES?
The home grown team has the Hall of Famers (or those who SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame) but the Acquired Team has the arms and an iron clad bullpen. And pitching wins, no matter what country you are in and no matter what language you speak!
VERDICT: THE ACQUIRED TEAM WINS... AND TO MAKE THE SERIES FAIR IT IS PLAYED IN SAN JUAN!!
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