Diehard Expos fans celebrated the Nats’ victory like it was their own on Wednesday night after the franchise came from behind to win Game 7 of the Major League Baseball championship over the Houston Astros.
It’s a shaky claim to make and one largely rooted in nostalgia. Many Expos fans feel cheated by the baseball strike of 1994, which occurred just as their team was reaching its peak. They were arguably the favourite to win the World Series that year, and some fans feel they’re still owed that title.
However, the Washington Nationals are not the Montreal Expos. There are no ex-Expos players remaining on the roster — or playing in the league, for that matter. The Nats occasionally wear throwback Expos jerseys, but that’s about as close as they get to being the real Expos.
Nevertheless, many Canadians — including some celebrities — are claiming this victory as their own.
Others chose to rain on the virtual parade by pointing out the distinction between the Nats and the Expos.
“Our official position is that the Expos were paused in 2004,” tweeted Expos Nation, an Expos fan site with thousands of members. “The overwhelming majority of our base is indifferent towards the Nationals.
“Congrats to them on a great season, but they’re not our team,” the group wrote.
It’s not the first time a sports franchise has won it all after leaving Quebec. The NHL’s Quebec Nordiques franchise moved to Denver in 1995 and became the Colorado Avalanche. The franchise won the Stanley Cup in its first season after leaving Quebec.
The Avalanche had largely the same lineup as the Nordiques when they won with one exception: their new goalie was Patrick Roy, a future Hall-of-Famer whom the Montreal Canadiens traded away after a bitter dispute. Despite all the bad blood from those departures, the Avalanche were far more connected to their former home than the Nats when they won.
The strongest remaining tie between the Nats and the Expos is Dave Martinez, who played in Montreal from 1988 to 1991 and is now the Nationals’ World Series-winning manager.
Expos fans rallied around his victory on Wednesday night.
“An old Expo gets his ring,” wrote Dale Jacobs.
Former Expo Pedro Martinez, who was on that ’94 team that almost won it all, celebrated the Nats’ victory on Wednesday.
“The Nationals shocked the world, took the trophy to the nation’s capital and made many Montreal Expos fans happy again!” he tweeted. “Enjoy guys, you deserve it!”
Some fans have talked about showing up at Washington’s World Series parade wearing Expos gear.
Others have suggested that Montreal deserves its own parade — either for the 2019 World Series that it didn’t really win or for the 1994 World Series that fans feel it should have won.