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August 21, 2014 at 10:47 am ET
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’94 Expos — Happy Birthday: John Wetteland edition

WettelandExposDon’t ask me why, because I can’t quite pinpoint the reason, but John Wetteland was my favorite Expo of all-time. When we decided to do up these ’94 Expos commemorative posts including birthdays, I negotiated to get his day because like a fantasy leaguer compelled to draft their favorite player, I just had to land him.

Wetteland finished with 330 saves over twelve seasons, good for thirteenth in big league history, from 1992 through 2000 he never finished worse than fifth in his league in that particular category including an American League best 43 in 1996, made four playoff appearances (it should have been five) and was named Most Valuable Player of the ’96 World Series, closing out all four Yankees victories. Wetteland, of course, served as the last Bombers stopper before Mariano Rivera assumed the role and his path toward Cooperstown.

Before the spring ’95 Expos fire sale that included Wetteland along with Marquis Grissom and Ken Hill, Fall Classic heroics and three All-Star appearances, however, Wetteland was an Expo, closing out 105 games in three seasons, and along with Mel Rojas formed one of the best two-headed bullpen monsters in memory in what seems like two short decades ago. The pair teamed for 41 saves, with Wetteland posting 25 saves to go along with a 2.83 ERA and 68 strikeouts over 63.2 innings for the World Series Champion that Never Was.

After his playing days, Wetteland got into coaching before struggles with depression led to a suicide attempt in 2009, but appears to be doing better, making an appearance for the Mets / Blue Jays exhibition games at Olympic Stadium this past March to honor the 20th anniversary of perhaps the best team Montreal ever produced.

Wetteland may not have been Mo or Eck or even Hell’s Bells, but if I needed three outs with a one-run lead in the final frame, I would hesitate to give the ball to John Karl Wetteland. And can’t help but think it should have been Darrin Fletcher hoisting the big right-hander after the final out of the ’94 Fall Classic a full two years before Joe Girardi did the same nearly 400 miles away from Olympic Stadium.

From everyone at Bugs & Cranks, Happy 48th Birthday, John!

 

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