The following post is written by Dave Kaufman, host of BALLS! The Baseball Show on the Team990 in Montreal.
I’m thinking back fondly to where I was eight years ago this week.
“Believer Fever” had held her grip through most of the summer, and after taking the first three games of a four game set from the Philadelphia Phillies, the Montreal Expos and their fans knew that the math was simple.
Win the last game of the series, and we’re tied for the Wild Card heading into September.
At the time, there were no hard and fast guarantees that the team would be in Montreal the following season, so it was our final kick at the proverbial can.
While it would be a stretch to say that the city was behind the team, there was an excitement among many Montrealers who realized that this would probably be the last pennant race we’d ever be involved in, at least one with any kind of intimacy.
Omar Minaya had gone out and acquired veteran Todd Zeile- not quite like getting Cliff Floyd and Bartolo, but it showed the fans that the fever had crept into the front office as well.
It’s kind of funny how excited we were at landing 38-year-old Todd Zeile. If anything, it shows how abused we were as fans. But he was the most legit third baseman to play for us since Tim Wallach. We did our best to overlook the fact that Zeile was at his best when Wallach was playing…
Eight years ago this week, I was at the Stade, in seats above the dugout tunnel for the fourth game of the series, a Thursday afternoon game. Javy Vasquez versus Amaury Telemaco.
The walk up crowd was huge that day. A shade over 20,000 people were there, most arriving well after the Wilkerson single, Cabrera rbi double, and Vlad Guerrero homer that gave the Expos a 3-0 lead after one.
They never looked back. Vasquez dominated the slumping Phillies for eight innings, striking out ten. A 4-0 win. A four way tie with the Cards, Astros, and Marlins, who the Expos would face at Joe Robbie in their next game.
The fans went wild. Myself included. A four-way tie for second best had never felt so good.
And we all know the rest. Rocky Biddle walks in the winning run the next night in Miami, and the season went down the drain.
The Expos weren’t allowed any September call-ups, and finished a mile back of the Marlins for the Wild Card. The Marlins went on to beat Barry and the Giants, Bartman and the Cubs and Rocket Roger and the Yankees to give Jeff Loria the 2003 World Series that he so desperately craved.
And, ring the bells; there would be a 2004 season for the Montreal Expos.