While two former Expos/Washington Nationals got in the Hall Of Fame this week, the divide between the two franchises continue
This past week, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were two of the three players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rodriguez played two seasons with the Washington Nationals while Raines spent 13 of his 23 seasons in Montreal, playing for the Expos.
Throughout the last few days, many Washington Nationals fans were happy for Rodriguez, who was a good mentor to the younger players and still provided strong defense behind the plate at age 38 and 39 (2010 and 2011). However, there wasn’t the same level of excitement by Nats fans for Raines.
As everyone knows, the Washington Nationals are a continuation of the Montreal Expos, which had their final season in Montreal back in 2004. If you go on the Nats website, the all-time records page does include Expos stats as well. But, while the two franchises are technically one in the same, it feels the exact opposite.
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For one, let me take you back to the Franchise Four that was voted on by fans before the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati. Out of the eight nominees for the Washington Nationals, only one of them was an actual National, Ryan Zimmerman. Unfortunately, the Nats haven’t been around long enough to form a long list of candidates for that honor.
With that lack of Nats history, the Ring of Honor consists of many different players who played for either the Homestead Grays (Negro Leagues), Washington Senators, Montreal Expos, or the Nats. Frank Robinson, who managed the team from 2002-2006, is the only Nats player/manager honored as of right now.
Last season, former Senator Frank Howard was put into the Ring of Honor. Howard played in D.C. from 1965-1971 before the Senators became the Texas Rangers. During that time, he made it to four All-Star teams and hit 40+ home runs in three of those seasons.
At the same time, you can understand the frustration of Expos fans as they watch a Nats team that could’ve been theirs still. It’s similar to the situation in the NBA when the Sonics left Seattle, became the Oklahoma City Thunder, and ended up making it to the NBA Finals. Do you still root for that organization or do you root against them because of the move?
Whether it’s with the Expos or the Senators, the Washington Nationals should try to bring some of that history back. If anything, it’s a good way for fans to learn about the past and some of the great players that played on the Expos.
One day, it will be great to see some Washington Nationals in that ring of honor. But, for now, why not honor Tim Raines this season or Vladimir Guerrero next season, if he makes the Hall Of Fame in 2018? At the very least, it can help to somewhat bridge a divide between Nats and Expos fans.
It is understandable that some fans on both sides of the proverbial coin might be disappointed. The Nats and Expos will always be linked in some way and maybe that disconnect changes if Montreal gets another MLB team.
But, for now, District On Deck will bring you a look back at the history of the Expos and D.C. baseball in addition to our coverage of the Washington Nationals.