Les Expos were "Canada's Team" prior to the arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays. They have fans across Canada. Expo fandom, whether overt or concealed, is one of the things that binds Canadians together. In a typically Canadian way, we love them because they're losers - or at least, one of the most snakebitten teams in professional sports.
Twice the Expos have been in a position to challenge for the World Series. And both times, a players' strike has disrupted those chances.
In 1981, the Expos were leading the NL East and looked poised to capture the division title that had only just eluded them in each of the prior two seasons. Then the '81 strike interrupted the season. When play resumed, the Expos were not able to get their rhythm back. The Philadelphia Phillies won the second part of the season. The two teams played a 5 game playoff to decide who would go on to the LCS. The Expos won, but then lost the fifth and deciding game of the championship series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. No pennant, no series.
In 1994, on August 12th, the Expos were 74-40 and six games in front of perennial division leaders, the Atlanta Braves. A team including Larry Walker and John Wetteland made the team one of the strongest in Major League baseball. However, the strike washed out the 1994 season and the playoffs were cancelled. In the off season, the Expos lost a number of important players, including Walker and Wetteland. They have never contended again. The Montréal fans, finally goaded beyond endurance by both the strike and the seeming injustice, began to drift away. The days of 57,000 fans in the "Big Owe" were over.
In the modern era, teams like the Texas Rangers can spend more on one player than the Expos' entire salary budget. The Expos are reduced to being a major league farm team, starting players like Pedro Martinez on their road to glory (Pedro won a Cy Young in Montréal) or rehabilitating the old, injured, and down on their luck.
Montréal fans don't like losing. They continue to support Les Glorieux, but even then, when the Habs lose, fan support dwindles. When the Expos leave town for Washington, D.C. at the end of the 2004 season, it will be their closet fans in Regina and Drumheller and Dildo who feel the loss.