Behind players like Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Pedro Martinez, Ken Hill and John Wetteland, Felipe Alou's 1994 Montreal Expos were 74-40 after a rare loss exactly 20 years ago, Aug. 11, 1994. It would be the last game they played, as the strike ended the season prematurely.
Before that one loss, the Expos had won 20 of 22 games and had all the makings of the best team in the majors. But it was all downhill from there for Montreal Expos baseball.
The ensuing offseason saw Claude Brochu order a bit of a firesale, with Hill, Wetteland and Marquis Grissom traded. Larry Walker walked via free agency with the Expos not making any attempt to retain the Canadian superstar. Alou, Mel Rojas, Martinez and a host of others weren't far away.
Attendance went from an average of 24,543 per game in 1994 to 18,189 in 1995. By 1998 it was 11,295, in 1999 it was all the way down to 9,547 and in 2001 it was an embarrassing 7,935. For comparison's sake, the Rays check in at dead last this season with an average of 17,700 per game.
Let's imagine that the 1994 season kept going and the Expos won the World Series. Might things have turned out differently?
World Series champions always experience an attendance craze in the following season, sometimes several seasons. With the revenue increase down the stretch in 1994 with postseason games and everything, isn't it possible the Expos kept the core together?
If so, the Expos don't alienate their fan base and finish last in 1995. That's a whole different ballgame now.
It was obvious the Expos needed a new stadium with a better location, and it's also possible that a World Series championship (or more, should they have kept the band together) would have provided the momentum necessary to get Labatt Park built.
And if that happened, Montreal may have been able to keep supporting the Expos to this day.
The implications seem infinite.
As far as the Expos not becoming the Nationals, Washington, DC, would still be without a team, but maybe the threat of moving to DC would be real enough to have created better leverage in stadium situations for the Rays and/or A's.
Maybe Jeffrey Loria never buys the Expos, but what if he did and then he kept them? Would the Marlins still have gotten their new stadium? Would they actually pay to keep MLB veterans, in which case, would Miguel Cabrera still be in Miami?
What about the trickle-down effect of guys like Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, Larry Walker, Moises Alou et al in Montreal instead of helping other teams make the playoffs?
It's a seemingly endless line of questions with answers we can't even begin to figure.
But the strike did happen and even if it was only a minor impetus, it did have something to do with the Montreal Expos eventually dying. So consider this a very unhappy anniversary for Expos fans.