The 20th anniversary of the MLB player’s strike makes everyone wonder about the 1994 Montreal Expos and what could’ve been. The Expos were baseball’s best team, but there was another club kicking butt and taking names that hadn’t tasted the postseason in 40 years: The Cleveland Indians.
The Indians hadn’t had a winner in a long time, but that’s the season Jacobs Field opened. Rising stars, such as Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton were just coming into their own. Sluggers Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome were just starting their prolific careers. Veteran players, such as Eddie Murray and Dennis Martinez were along for the ride. For the first time in a long time, Cleveland was a baseball town.
The Tribe captivated the city when it opened The Jake with that victory over the Randy Johnson-led Mariners. Later that summer, the corner of Carnegie and Ontario reached scorching-hot levels as the Indians won a franchise record 18-straight home games.
Thanks to a new playoff format, which created a spot for Wild Card team, the Indians would’ve qualified for the postseason, had MLB resolved the matter quickly enough to conduct playoffs. On the day of the strike, the Indians were just one game behind the Chicago White Sox in the newly formed American League Central.
Unfortunately, Indians fans never got to see what could’ve been. Juding by the string of success the Indians enjoyed from 1995 through the early 2000s, it’s not inconceivable to think the Indians could’ve won the World Series. A lot of the key players from the 1995 AL Championship team were on that club.
The Expos are more remembered for that season because the club had jus three winning seasons over the next 10 years, before finally relocating to Washington D.C. in 2005.
The Indians, of course, enjoyed tons of success in the late 1990s and came within two outs of winning the World Series of 1997.
The Expos were baseball’s best, but the Indians were the league’s hottest team in August of 1994. A lot of writers will contend the Expos were that year’s team of destiny–if only it could’ve been settled on the field.