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Shut up about reviving the Expos already

Posted by Mike G. / April 1, 2013


Bringing back something that is dead, obsolete, or which never caught on to begin with is one of the noblest callings in life, I know. (That's why I now use the word "scenester," like all the time.) But this BS about reviving the Expos — always timed to coincide with the start of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season — needs to stop. NOW.

The latest to flog this horse is a group led by former Expos outfielder Warren Cromartie, who, along with the Montreal Board of Trade, are spending $400,000 on a study to figure out if it's something we want. Because everyone needs a hobby.

Yeah, yeah, we've heard the potted history: our plucky, beloved franchise that excelled at spotting talent, done in by having to play inside the billion-dollar boondoggle that is le Stade Olympique (which one sports writer said was like playing inside the world's largest ashtray), by a stingy post-Charles Bronfman consortium of owners, and by the mid-season strike in 1994, which cut short our unofficial stint as "the best team in baseball" and soured fans on the franchise.

But this time will be different, Projet Baseball Montreal swears! They claim that the strong dollar, MLB's revenue-sharing deal among clubs, better broadcasting deals, and, of course, social media, means that big-league baseball could have a future again in Montreal. And then there's all the young people (yours truly included), who are buying and wearing the caps with the retro logo ALL THE TIME, because we're hardcore Expos fans you see, and not just being ironic d-bags at all!

Sorry dudes, but no provincial government (minority or otherwise) is going to help pony up half a billion for a new stadium on post-industrial wasteland across from Griffintown on the other side of the Lachine Canal. I mean, remember the 90s? Back then, the feds had promised some land and there was Big Beer money behind the bid, but then provincial politicians flip-flopped and a downtown Labatt Field died a vapourware death. (Thanks, Lucien Bouchard!) Today, the feds can probably buy more votes by making noises about returning NHL hockey to Quebec City instead. And who even knows how long Pauline Marois will be around?

Luckily, there's no shortage of dumb ideas on the internet. Here's one: let's all 3.5 million of us each chip in $100 to buy a pro baseball team, like this guy says!

So what to do? Well, what is there to do? We can be realistic and resign ourselves to something second-best, such as reviving the Montreal Royals, a triple-A baseball team that counted future greats like Jackie Robinson among its ranks. With a storied sports team like Le Canadien as the main show in town, it's not like we need to prove our pro sports chops to any one else out there. Especially not Toronto.

Or just watch this touching documentary below, like the good slacktivist you are. Reminisce. Cry into your beer. You and Sad Expos Lady. And get used to yet another MLB season without your beloved Expos. Because they're dead, okay? They're not coming back. And the sooner we get a grip on that and move on, the sooner we can focus on more pressing things, like fixing those infamous nids-des-poule Mayor Michael Applebaum keeps photo-op-ing.



joe best / April 1, 2013 at 08:24 pm
Of course that's not really up to you or anyone else to say. If MLB baseball comes back to Montreal it won't be because of any grass root movements, or rose colored glass wearing dreamers. It will be because the billionaires and their spokespersons (the politicians) will have decided that there is money to be made. The decision will be made not unlike the way Home Depot decides it can cram another one of its stores into a particular city without negatively impacting its other stores while increasing its bottom line.

If some billionaire wants local pro-sport summer content for his cable network and his brewery, auto and financial services buddies are on board, guess what? Montreal has MLB again. Montreal is the largest NA market currently without an MLB franchise and has been an excellent market in the past with proper ownership. If no billionaires are into Montreal baseball, there will be no MLB here.

Montreal would not embrace AA/AAA ball after having been in the majors. It would be a guaranteed flop. Not even worth considering.
Alexander S replying to a comment from joe best / April 2, 2013 at 07:17 am
First of all, what a downer article, what is wrong with some hoping and dreaming? What's so bad about people talking about bringing back baseball? Does it really annoy you so much that people who are passionate about something talk about it, I mean, who cares? If it makes someone happy to talk about bringing back baseball, let 'em.

Second of all, to the first comment's unsupported assertion that "Montreal would not embrace AA/AAA ball after being in the majors." That is utter crap, you have no idea what you're talking about. Yes MLB is better, so what? Living in New York I used to go to Mets games and Brooklyn Cyclones games. The Cyclone games were great! Cheap tickets, lots of enthusiasm, everybody loves minor league games. Please find support (good luck) for your blind assertion that minor league ball would be a "guaranteed flop." It takes a lot less enthusiasm to support a minor league team and a lot less capital, maybe it would be perfect for Montreal.
Greg / April 2, 2013 at 11:38 am
AA/AAA baseball might actually be the perfect solution since it would make serious baseball fans happy without burdening the whole city with the inevitable municipal expenses of establishing a major league sports team. I look around Montreal and I really don't see a baseball town. We live and breathe hockey, we go nuts over soccer (even if our love is spread across something like 12 different national teams), and we have measured enthusiasm for football, but baseball? I don't know - it's not something that I see deeply engrained in our culture. A lot of MLB teams don't actually turn a profit, and those that do are selling tons of tickets every game to a rabid fan base for a lot of money. Could you see a baseball team in Montreal packing the stadium a few times a week for the same prices people pay to see Redsox or Cubs? It's really hard to imagine. On the other hand, I could totally see Montrealers getting down with $10 tickets for a night out at the ballpark eating hotdogs and drinking beers and rooting on a hyper local team. That sounds like lots of fun, and it wouldn't require a $400,000 study before even starting.
Shawn / April 14, 2013 at 01:41 pm
The Expos can succeed here. And they have before. They sold out Jarry Park and The Olympic Stadium for many games. Just as they had many empty seats for others. Should the governments invest in bringing a team back? No more than they should with any private business unless there is some direct financial benefit. Government should not fund a ballpark. Let the billionaires bring a team back, if one can be supported. I'm rooting for Cromartie and his team. But I am not holding my breath.
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