The Montreal Expos may have left the city in 2004, but nostalgia still runs strong. It's been ten years and you can still see Montrealers sporting the Expos logo everywhere, from t-shirts to snapback to retro toques. It's a hipster throwback in a city of hipsters, but it shows that the Montreal Expos are still in our public consciousness. The Habs get all the attention , but there must be some Montreal baseball lovers who are tired of cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays as the only Canadian MLB team.
Well-known baseball agent Scott Boras, on his Winter Meetings Wednesday media scrum this week, suggests moving the dismal Tampa Bay Rays to Montreal (they averaged an MLB-worst 17,857 per home game this year)
According to Boras, "I’ve always thought Montreal was a tremendous major league city and I think it’s a town that if you put a ballpark there and particularly with the communications broadcasting rights and such that are there, that it would be a tremendous success and a very valued point for baseball.”
What about the money? “You’d have the ability to sell National League baseball to Canada,” Boras also added. “You’d have 45 million people, I believe [in Canada] and you’ve got something that they don’t currently have.
Would it be cool to get another sports franchise here? Yeah! Would it be financially wise to fund a stadium and hope to find a market not completely overtaken by the Habs? Uh...
Anyways, check out some old photos of the Expos, before they became the Washington Nationals.
"With opening day today, excited to announce we’re bringing the Expos back to the MLB in 2022. Excited to be the first player/coach/owner in MLB history," reads his tweet.
"What!!!!!is this real life??? Oh man I'm a huge pats fan and thank you for the past 20 years and I was forced to become a Jays fan after the expos left...this is fkn awesome LFG!!!!" one person responded on Twitter.
What makes the joke less mean is that Brady almost pursued a career in baseball and was selected by the Expos in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB draft.
"The principles that we will use to help or not this baseball team is to see how much additional revenue do we expect to get from this activity," explained the premier.
A Canadian Press report indicates that the Montreal Baseball Group, a consortium led by Stephen Bronfman, is developing a plan to lobby the government for money. The group is also looking to be a shareholder in the Tampa Bay Rays team, with a goal of splitting the team's season schedule between the two cities.
"There's a value for sure. You loan them money and you give the grant only if there's additional revenue at the Ministry of Finance. It's a win-win situation," said Legault.
Even though we lost the Expos 11 years ago, you can't walk down a busy street in Montreal without seeing someone in an Expos hat. And why not? They look awesome! But you have to wonder if everyone else also thinks they look awesome or if we're just bias because of the nostalgia factor.
As it turns out, the Expos hats are pretty popular elsewhere. In fact, they ranked #2 on the list of the of the nicest 1970's baseball caps. The love the author has for the hat can even be felt in the way he talks about it:
"The flowing 'M' succeeds where more angular fonts fail, while the 'e' and 'b' hidden in plain sight make sure 'Expos Baseball' is never forgotten (...) Let's bring it back, let's bring THEM back"
And to top it all off, he even linked back to a website who's sole purpose is to bring back the Expos. Well done.
In Montreal our number one team will always be the Canadiens, but that doesn't mean we can't dream of having another major professional sports team in this city. While just a few years ago the dream of pro baseball in Montreal seemed dead, there are small glimpses of hope on the horizon, such as Mayor Coderre's meeting with MLB's commissioner Rob Manfred back in May which lead to a hopefully prophetic tweet of "Play Ball!". Here are a few of the reasons why Montreal would (once again) make a great home for baseball.
1. Montreal has a rich baseball history
It can be easy to forget that Montreal once loved the American pastime with a passion. Besides the exploits of the Expos, Montreal also once had a minor league team called the Royals. Why is this important? Only because it was the professional springboard that got Jackie Robinson (the MLB's first black player) his start in pro baseball. In fact, Robinson fondly remembered Montreal crowds as some of the best he ever played for.
2. We can support more than one team
Yes, the Habs are by far and away the biggest sporting pull in this city but Montreal is big enough to sustain much more than just hockey. The Als and Impact do very well here. CFL playoff games bring huge crowds to the Olympic stadium, and the Montreal Grand Prix proves that people love coming to Montreal to see sporting events. Not to mention Montreal hosting one of the greatest Olympic games in modern history back in 1976. Our city can do sports and we can do it well.
3. Montreal has local owners who care
One of the biggest problems with baseball before its fall here in Montreal was atrocious ownership by outsiders who didn't care if baseball was played here or somewhere else. Today, Washington boasts a team full of bright young stars that by all accounts could have been ours. The Molson and Saputo families are proof that local magnates can manage business and sporting empires at once. The Habs continue to remain relevant despite the difficulty in attracting free agents because of currency conversion and the Impact have just brought in a former all-world soccer star in Didier Drogba. These moves are evidence that when an ownership group is connected to the city, they will find a way to manage their product well. We have done it before, we will do it again!
4. Canada (Quebec included) produces some serious MLB talent
Even if Canadians only make up a small percentage of MLB rosters,they have made serious marks on the game. Today, Toronto is able to put out lineups that are 1/3rd Canadian. It was in the years just before the Expo's were ripped away that Éric Gagné tore an MLB record 84 consecutive saves. We flat out produce some amazing athletes here and given the 11 million the city is investing in baseball diamonds for youth here, we can argue that we've never been in a better position to make a mark on this sport as well. Of course we want to export our talent all over the globe but how much sweeter could it be to watch hometown heroes succeed here?
5. Youppi needs to go home
The Canadiens saved the mascot when the Expos were dismantled and moved; I'm sure he's grateful, but isn't it time he went back to his original calling? It's time to give him a new home.