MLB playoffs: Remembering the Expos' semi-forgotten 1981 NLDS win – Sporting News

NOTE: This column is adapted from a similar column published last year, because people apparently still don’t remember or know about the 1981 NLDS.

If the Nationals beat the Cubs and move on to face the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, a lot of people — and I mean a lot — will claim that the franchise has finally gotten over the postseason hump and finally won a playoff series. Those people will be wrong, though. That actually happened 36 years ago.

Didn’t realize the franchise already won a playoff series? You’re not alone. So let’s talk about the 1981 NLDS.

Didn’t realize there was an NLDS in 1981? You’re also not alone there. I’ll explain.

The 1981 baseball season was wacky, for those unaware or with hazy memories. Thanks to an amended postseason format made necessary by a players’ strike that season, the Montreal Expos — the forebears of the Nats — won an NLDS against the Phillies in five games. There were just two divisions in each league back then, so the division winners in each half (the season was split into pre- and post-strike halves) met in an LDS to determine who would go to the league championship series. In the National League, those teams were the Expos and Phillies in the NL East, and the Dodgers and Astros in the NL West.

Meanwhile, the Reds had baseball’s best overall record but didn’t win either half and missed out on the playoffs. See? Wacky.

Anyway, back to the Expos, who won 1981’s second half East title with a 30-23 record.

MORE: 14 postseason oddities you might not know about

With a lineup that included Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Andre Dawson (HOFer Tim Raines didn’t play that series), Montreal jumped out to a 2-0 series lead against the Phillies after consecutive 3-1

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