A painful anniversary

By Jonah Keri

Fourteen years ago last week, my heart was ripped by the start of the 1994

baseball strike. That labor stoppage would ultimately wipe out the rest of the

regular season, as well as the entire playoffs.

For a Montreal Expos fan like me, it was especially painful. When the strike

started, the Expos owned the best record in baseball (74-40) and were well on

their way to an NL East title, having built a six-game lead on the Atlanta Braves

while peaking in the summer months.

Those were heady times for any Expos fan, but for me especially. I spent most

of that summer in California, staying with my then-girlfriend, an amazing girl

I'd met a few months earlier who'd become my amazing wife a few years later

(anniversary #11 is just around the corner). We went to a bunch of West Coast

games that summer, most of them in San Diego.

Watching the Expos destroy the Padres in the final series before the All-Star

break remains one of my fondest baseball memories. Nos Amours swept the

four-game series in San Diego, outscoring the Pads 34-3 in the process. When

the 'Spos completed the sweep on that final first-half Sunday by winning 8-2

(thanks to two homers from Moises Alou and a grand slam by Wil Cordero that

caused me to have an out-of-body experience), they moved into sole possession

of first place. At that moment, I knew in my heart that this team was headed

to the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history, and their first

World Series title.

Just look at the team that the Expos trotted out that season. Larry Walker,

Marquis Grissom, Moises Alou and John Wetteland in their primes.

Superprospects Cliff Floyd and Rondell White getting their first tastes of the big

leagues. A killer bullpen stuffed with power righties. A well-built, potent

bench. A lights-out starting rotation led by veterans Jeff Fassero and Ken

Hill...and a young, string-bean righty named Pedro Martinez. There is no way

this team would have lost, to anyone. I know this to be true.

Today, ESPN.com's Page 2 (via ESPN The Mag) has a tribute to the '94 Expos,

complete with a gallery of great links and clips that tells the tale of that team,

and of the franchise as a whole. Click here to check it out.

I encourage everyone to flip through these gems. If you're an Expos fan like me,

you'll get a welcome jolt of nostalgia. If you're a fan of baseball history, these

blasts from the past will resonate. If you're a fan of baseball in general, you'll

appreciate the contributions of the Greatest Team That Never Got A Chance.

You'll also gain a great deal of insight into my roots.


I am a Montrealer. I am a Montreal Expos fan. Always and forever.