The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Farewell Expos

By Jerry Keys

We all knew it would end once Bud "Moe Howard" Selig uttered the word contraction.  The Montreal Expos are no more.  36 years of existence.  No World Series championships to show for their history.

It took the Expos 10 years to finally produce a winning record (1979), but from 1979-94 they produced 13 winning seasons (2 were .500 seasons).  They upset the defending world champion Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of

the 1981 NL playoffs and came within one inning of winning the NLCS and appearing in their first World Series.

It was Montreal that was dealt the fatal hand of the 1994 strike-shortened season.  They stood at 74-40, best record in baseball.  Had the season went without the strike; it was a good bet they would have faced the Braves in the NLCS. 

After the 1994 season, the fire sell began.  If you had more trade value that a spoiled chicken, you were dealt.

Jerry Keys

They traded or did not attempt to re-sign stars like Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Pedro Martinez, Marquis Grissom, Ken Hill, and Jeff Fassero just to name a few.

Hard to imagine how bright their future looked only 20 years ago.  They were consensus first place contenders with superstars like Al Oliver, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Gary Carter, Steve Rogers, and Jeff Reardon.  The 1982 All-Star Game had 4 of the 9 NL starters wearing a Montreal uniform.

The team was rich in tradition and always had healthy attendance totals until original owner, Charles Bronfman sold the Expos to Claude Brochu and his partners. They invested nothing in the team and by 2001, attendance had dipped to less than 8,000 per game.

So after 2 runaways, the 1960 Washington Senators relocated to Minnesota (Twins) after 60 years in DC and the 1971 Washington Senators II relocated to Texas (Rangers) after 11 seasons, Washington now has a team once again.  There is no doubt that DC

fans will welcome the team, they supported a team for 70 years and have been without a team for 33 years.

But somewhere lost in all this, is Montreal.  Is baseball just not a viable sport in Canada anymore?  The Toronto Blue Jays looked like the team of the 1990's until 1994, had a run of even more success than Montreal (from 1983-93 never posted a losing record, won 2 World Series, 5 division titles, led AL in attendance 1989-94) but have suffered harsh times over the last 10 years.  They once topped the 4 million mark in attendance, now they have trouble bringing in 2 million.  Will Toronto be next?

I was never a Montreal fan, I always liked Atlanta and Minnesota, but over the last couple of years I found myself rooting for them.  They even made a run at

the playoffs in 2002.  The players on the 2004 Expos will play on in 2005 in a new city, and one by one the once-Expo players will retire and there will be nothing left in baseball to remind us of this great franchise.  To say this is a sad ending to a once great franchise would be an understatement.  It reminds me of a Hemmingway tragedy.

I wrote an article on steroid use in the July 2003 issue, soon after Ken Caminiti came out about his use.  He passed away this month, at the age of 41.  Coroner reports concluded that he died of a heart attack.  Toxicology reports were not released when this was written but there are conclusions that it may have been from a cocaine overdose. 

Whether it be the case or not, his death will be linked to steroid use.  Steroid users rarely die while using; it's the after effects that the users suffer from.  Similar to AIDS, you do not die of AIDS; you die as a result of AIDS.  Steroid use is the same thing.  You can use and use for 15 years and look great at retirement, but 15 years later is when the effects of using exacts its revenge.

In a buy now and pay later world that we now live in, can we actually look down on what he did?  We know he wasn't alone in using steroids.  Will Ken's death serve as a wake-up call for baseball to start cracking down on the rampant use?  How many more must suffer the same fate before top brass realize that steroids are dangerous?  Can MLB take a cue from the NFL's stance against steroid use?

I collected Caminiti's cards while he played, he spent 15 years in the majors, won the 1996 NL MVP Award, appeared in three All-Star games, and was a major catalyst in the 1996 and 1998 pennant winning seasons in San Diego.  Nobody wanted to win more than he did.  He achieved his glory but was it worth the price?  Unfortunately, we will never be able to hear him answer that question