Before we unfold the results of our Second-Chance World Series simulation, let's muse a bit about what might have been had either, or both, of our finalists -- the '94 Montreal Expos and '77 Kansas City Royals -- gone on to win the World Series with what, for both clubs, were the best regular-season rosters in the history of big-league baseball in those cities.
Montreal's what-if scenario is one that has been speculated about many times over the past quarter century. Mainly, the big question that we will never be able to truly answer is whether the Expos would still be playing in Quebec had the 1994 season played out with a Montreal win in the World Series.
The Expos' attendance at the time was climbing. Montreal was in its third straight season of contention and drew 24,543 fans per game to Olympic Stadium in 1994. That was their highest average since 1983 and almost certainly would have gone up by the end of the season, as the Expos not only stood in first place in the NL East when the 1994 strike began, but had won 20 of their last 23 games. Over their final seven home dates, the Expos drew more than 34,000 fans per game.
If that momentum had carried all the way through the 1994 Fall Classic, culminating with a celebration on the turf at Olympic Stadium after a title-clinching win over the New York Yankees, would that still-young Expos team have stayed together? Would ownership have ponied up to re-sign pending free agent Larry Walker, their highest-paid player? Would they have held onto Marquis Grissom, Ken Hill and John Wetteland, their next three highest-paid players, who were all traded before the start of the 1995 season?
What's clear is that the Expos' franchise never recovered from the 1994 strike. Ten years after what should have been their pinnacle in Montreal was instead their last season there. What we can't know is whether the Expos could have remained competitive under the economic system that was in place before 1994, the one that changed and evolved after that catastrophic work stoppage.