From Expos to Nationals: The Transformation of a Baseball Team

The complicated history of the Washington Nationals is one of the things that makes them so beloved by baseball fans all over the world. The Nationals represent baseball at its best, from their beginning in 1969 as the Montreal Expos to their current standing as a national and international brand.

While they are a team that achieved plenty of success throughout the 2010s, in recent years, the Capital City outfit has faltered somewhat. Since going all the way to World Series glory back in 2019, they haven’t even managed to reach the playoffs once. In fact, they haven’t even been able to finish the regular season with a positive record and have finished each campaign with more losses than victories.

The ongoing 2023 season looks to be no different and at the time of writing, the Nat’s have a paltry record of 34 wins and 51 defeats, leaving them rock bottom of the National League East. As such, it will come as no surprise that the latest online sports betting odds currently make them +200000 outsiders for the championship this term. To put that into perspective, only three teams, namely Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, and Oakland Athletics have longer odds than the Nat’s.

However, since their relocation nearly twenty years ago, things in Washington, DC, haven’t always been horrible. This article will examine how the franchise’s decision to relocate south of the border came about and how it has been since that time.

Early Years of the Expos

Along with the San Diego Padres, the Montreal Expos were founded in 1969 as expansion teams in MLB as the league moved outside of its traditional boundaries. The team’s original name was chosen to honor Montreal’s role as the host city of the 1967 International and Universal Exposition as well as the city’s French-English mix. They joined the National League East and started playing at Jarry Park, a relatively compact ballpark that could house up to 28,000 spectators.

The Expos had a stacked roster throughout the 1970s, one that matched up with any team in the like, which included the likes of Gary Carter and Warren Cromartie as well as Andre Dawson. However, despite their exceptional talent, the team struggled to have winning seasons, and attendance figures in Quebec started to decline. The team moved to Olympic Stadium, a domed stadium that could seat 59,000 people in 1977 but the move did not transform the team’s fortunes as expected, and they continued to have more losses than victories throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

The Expos didn’t reach the height of their success until the middle of the 1990s. The squad was ready to challenge for the World Series in 1994 with players like Vladimir Guerrero, Javier Vazquez, and Bartolo Colon on the roster before disaster struck. After topping the NL East for the first time in franchise history, the season that year was cut short because of a player strike. Sadly, the Expos never regained the momentum they had before the strike, and after years of financial losses, Major League Baseball took control of the team after the 2002 season.

Relocation and Subsequent Success

In 2005, the team made the move to the capital city of the United States, rebranding themselves as the Washington Nationals. The transition wasn’t smooth, as the team’s die-hard fan base had to bid farewell to its beloved pride and joy. But hey, that’s just how things go in the wild world of American sports, right? It was a necessary move to keep the team alive, and in 2005 they started playing at RFK Stadium before making Nationals Park their new home three years later. The team had a rocky start to life in their new city, with familiar problems such as low attendance and strings of losses once again hindering the franchise’s progress.

The Nationals had an incredible 2019 season filled with unforgettable moments. They had prominent players on their squad, including three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, who earned the well-deserved honor of 2019 World Series Most Valuable Player. They dominated the playoffs with outstanding performances, winning over formidable foes like the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers to secure a position in the World Series against the Houston Astros.

Although they initially stumbled, losing the first two games of the World Series, everything changed in Game 3 when they staged an amazing comeback and secured a resounding 12-3 victory on the Astros’ home turf. From that point onward, the team never looked back, winning three consecutive games and claiming the well-deserved 2019 World Series championship.


The transformation of the Montreal Expos into the Washington Nationals wasn’t easy, but it was a necessary transition in order to keep the team alive and kicking. From a franchise that struggled in its early years, to an organization that consistently puts up outstanding statistics, the Nationals have truly grown into their own. Despite their fair share of difficulties along the way, the team has continued to push forward, ultimately culminating in a World Series victory in 2019.

About NatsRed4DinDC

Entering my 51st year as a baseball fan, I have seen some amazing and improbable things, so "can't", "won't", and "never" are not in my baseball vocabulary. I don't readily accept absolutes where there is nuance. I don't readily accept that things just "are"; there are always reasons why.
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