Five reasons Major League Baseball should bring back the Montreal Expos

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Apr 2, 2013, 4:32:00 AM4/2/13

1. Jackie Robinson
In 1946, the AAA Montreal Royals were a farm team to the Brooklyn
Dodgers. Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier when he took
the field with the Royals, and while he faced racism and hatred in
other cities, he was supported enthusiastically by the baseball fans
of Montreal. An article in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail
says that “Mr. Robinson described the people of Montreal as ‘warm and
wonderful’ toward him and his wife.”

Jackie Robinson is the personification of one of the most important
moments in baseball history, and the people of Montreal helped usher
in that era with “warmth and wonderfulness” while the rest of the
world was spewing vitriol. If only as a big thank you for their
kindness, Montreal deserves baseball.

2. The Logo
The Expos logo is clever and weird and unique. At first glance, it
might say “ELB” (Elastic Load Balancing? Electronic Log Book? Eric Lee
Band?), or possibly “EJB” (conspiracy theory: EJB are initials of
Elizabeth Bronfman, the daughter of former Expos owner Charles
Bronfman). The official explanation is that the logo is “MEB,” for
Montreal Expos Baseball. Whatever it means, you still see the Expos
logo at games and around town (whatever the town), most likely as a
statement of team loyalty, but possibly as a fashion statement or
symbol of gang affiliation.

I bought a cheap, all-blue Expos cap when my wife and I thought about
moving to Montreal in 2001, only to ruin it years later by putting it
through the washing machine (rookie mistake). I was devastated, and
eventually replaced it with a fitted, classic tri-color Expos cap that
I still wear regularly.

3. Circuiiiiiiiiiit
Listening to a baseball game on the radio is a beautiful thing. More
than any other sport, in my opinion, baseball announcers bring the
game to life through passion, storytelling, and an innate sense of
timing. Nothing drove home the unique experience of Montreal baseball
like listening to a game broadcast in French. Simple phrases like le
rectangle des frappeurs (batter’s box—literally translated as “the
rectangle of hitters”), la balle papillon (knuckleball—literally
“butterfly ball”), and my favorite, le sabotage (blown save), made the
game seem elegant and exotic. The cadence of the language affected the
feel of the game. If baseball is striving to be an international
sport, having a Major League presence in the second-largest French-
speaking city in the world seems like a great place to start.

4. Gary Carter et al.
The Expos of the 1980s were not just chock-full of great players, they
were players who had come up together through the team’s minor league
system. Teams that featured players like Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Tim
Wallach, David Palmer, Steve Rogers, Al Oliver, and, of course, Gary
Carter drew packed houses to Olympic Stadium. I specifically remember
Gary Carter’s rivalry with Mike Schmidt, who was always breaking the
Expos’ hearts. (I was a kid in 1980 when Schmidt helped the Phillies
win the NL East by hitting two game-clinching home runs in a
thrilling, season-ending three-game series in Montreal. The feeling in
Philadelphia at the time was that it was incredible that the Phillies
escaped the frenzied atmosphere of Olympic Stadium with two wins and
the division title.) It seemed that Carter and Schmidt were locked in
battles for home-run champion or MVP during my entire childhood.

Expos teams in the 1990s were also well stocked and enthusiastically
supported. The team trotted out a roster with players like Pedro
Martinez, Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Vladimir Guerrero, Marquis
Grissom, and John Wetteland, among many others. The players’ strike
that ended the 1994 season devastated the Expos more than any other
team. They were 34 games over .500 and had the best record in baseball
when the season was suspended, never to be resumed.

I don’t bring up these teams just to list a bunch of players who wore
the Expos uniform, but to point out that savvy Montreal baseball fans
know and support good baseball. It’s all too easy to remember the
dark, late years of the Montreal Expos, but when times were good, it
was one of the most enthusiastic fan bases out there.

5. Montreal
Finally, Montreal is the 15th-largest city in North America and the
second-largest in Canada. (Not pertinent to baseball, but still
interesting: Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in
the world, behind only Paris.) It was the first international city to
host a Major League Baseball team, and it is growing (5.2% from 2006
to 2011), diverse (17% of the population lists something other than
French or English as its first language), and smart (Montreal is
called “Canada’s Cultural Capital“)—and we all know that baseball is a
smart person’s sport.

Before the untimely demise of baseball in Montreal, plans were afoot
to build the downtown stadium pictured above. I can’t imagine anything
more awesome than for this plan to be revived. I sincerely hope the
movement to bring baseball to Montreal gains steam, not just because
Major League Baseball would benefit from having a team in a big,
important, international city with a rich baseball history, but
because the baseball-loving fans in the city deserve and would support
a team.

There are plans afoot, too. The Montreal Baseball Project was founded
by former Expo Warren Cromartie with the goal of bringing the Expos
back, and the Expos Nation Facebook page is alive and well. Vive les


Apr 2, 2013, 4:29:28 PM4/2/13
On Apr 2, 4:32 am, TMC <> wrote:
You forgot #6....the abysmal sound of baseball being played in a
nearly empty ballpark, day after day, year after year.



Sep 12, 2014, 7:50:25 PM9/12/14
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