Baseball, Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Marketing, Montreal, Opinion, Sports

Baseball in Montreal

When the Expos were winning, the stadium was full.

So, the return of baseball to Montreal is once again in the news. Major League Baseball at that. The story broke yesterday that the brain trust at MLB has given the Tampa Bay Rays (once the Devil Rays) permission to talk to Montreal investors about the possibility of splitting the team’s games between the two cities.

Yep, odd though it may sound, initial reaction has been positive here in Montreal. Poll after poll indicates the city’s desire to have MLB back, but with one significant caveat: limited or no public money. This option is seen by some as a way of easing a team into the city. And easing it out of another.

Yet that same stadium – cold, ugly, in the middle of nowhere – was packed to the less-than-secure roof during the early eighties when the Expos put a winning product on the field.

For reasons beyond my understanding the TBR are averaging a mere 14K so far this season although they have a 40-25 record. The average has been declining since 2012 when it was 19K. Many suggestions have been made for this downward spiral including poor public transit and a less than ideal stadium.

And there’s that word – stadium. It has the power to make any Expos fan apoplectic. Because if you think Tampa Bay’s Tropicana stadium is not great, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium not only located miles from the downtown core, but has countless problems of its own. Any serious talk of a franchise returning to Montreal evidently must include a new stadium.

But wait just a moment. There is no doubt the Expos had poor attendance records toward the end of their stay here. Fans were daily subjected to a litany of “when will they go”, “just pull the plug already”. Not exactly an environment conducive to recruiting loyal fans.

Yet that same stadium – cold, ugly, in the middle of nowhere – was packed to the less-than-secure roof during the early eighties when the Expos put a winning product on the field. The stadium was alive with happy fans watching a great team do what great teams do – win. During that time the team averaged 28K fans per game and was ahead of the major league average.

Jarry Park, the Expos first home.

Blame it on the Montreal Canadiens if you want. Their dynasties instilled in many Montreal sports fans an expectation of winning. Sadly they have not been able to live up to their own legacy since 1993.

I sometimes think that focusing on a state-of-the-art stadium more that putting a winning squad on the field is a little bit of cart before horse logic.

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Baseball, Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, Montreal Canadiens, Sports, Wordpress

Dear Washington Nationals Fans

Expos_Nats

Dear Washington Nationals Fans,

Let me start by congratulating you, and of course the Nationals, for a great season; I wish you the very best of luck in the postseason. I hope you understand that I, as a Montrealer, share a little bit of your pride and excitement.

Mind you there is still hurt and anger aplenty in Montreal, almost a decade later, over the shoddy treatment of the franchise and its fans by certain owners.

I write that in all sincerity. As you know your team was once my team, the Montreal Expos. They say that from small acorns grow mighty oaks, and I hope the seeds that were sown in Montreal continue to bear fruit for many years to come, even if a new crop of players now makes up the team in a different city.  Rest assured I harbor no animosity or bitterness toward you; Washington had the wherewithal and the team became available, it was a match. Mind you there is still hurt and anger aplenty in Montreal, almost a decade later, over the shoddy treatment of the franchise and its fans by certain owners. Much has been said and written about that debacle, however I choose to think of it as water under the bridge.

Your team has a brief postseason record with just two previous appearances: once as the Nationals having made it to the playoffs a couple of years ago, but coming up short, and once as the Expos in the split-season of 1981.  The final game of that series with the Los Angeles Dodgers is still referred to by Montreal baseball fans, usually with a shudder, maybe even an occasional tear, as Blue Monday after a late-game homer by the Dodgers’ player of that name on that day shattered our hopes and ended our season.

The final game of that series with the Los Angeles Dodgers is still referred to by Montreal baseball fans, usually with a shudder, maybe even an occasional tear, as Blue Monday …

In 1994 the Expos were the best team in baseball leading their division and showing no signs of slowing when play was stopped in mid-August and the season ultimately lost to a strike. Another page in the frustrating history of the team.

But that was then, and this is now. Montreal sports fans are focused more on the ever-increasing possibility of the return of Major League Baseball to the city than on the lies and raw deals of the past. And Washington is off to the playoffs! Good luck!

Of course I would be remiss as a Montreal Canadiens fan if I didn’t mention that all this warm and fuzzy goodwill does not extend to the Capitals!

Cheers,

DCM_Signature

 

 

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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History, Montreal, Sports

Major League Baseball in Montreal getting lots of ink lately

The Banner put up at the last MLB game in Montreal

The Banner put up at the last MLB game in Montreal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jim Caple, Senior Writer, ESPN.com, has a great post today about bringing Major League baseball back to Montreal. It is lengthy and provides much background on the Expos and their demise. But  his angle is mostly on the positive aspects of Nos Amours and how a movement is afoot to bring them back.

The shame of it is that the Expos once were the best team in baseball, and they also were well supported. They outdrew the Yankees in the early ’80s and the Mets in the early ’90s. But the 1994 strike put an end to the World Series hopes of a first-place team that had Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Moises Alou and Marquis Grissom on the roster. The Expos never recovered, thanks in large part to Loria. After he salted the earth, poisoned the water and released radiation in Montreal, baseball finally moved the franchise to Washington in 2005.

Matthew Ross, administrator of the ExposNation Facebook – http://www.Facebook.com/ExposNation , had a piece in The Gazette yesterday illustrating the strong bond that still exists between the team and its fans.

As an administrator of the ExposNation Facebook fan page, I am calling on Montreal baseball fans to occupy Section 240 of the Rogers Centre on Sunday when the Toronto Blue Jays face the Tampa Bay Rays in a 1 p.m. start. The goal is to galvanize the existing Montreal fan base while letting the media, major-league executives, the governments and prospective new Expos investors know that Montreal still has a baseball pulse.

While a recent economic study indicated Montreal could support a MLB team.

Of course all of this means nothing…or does it? Montreal baseball fans supported the team when it was playing competitively in a far-from-great stadium. Once the wheels started to come off with the strike and subsequent fire sales who could blame the fans for staying away? Give us another crack and, all things being equal, baseball can flourish in Montreal!

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