Baseball season has begun once again and it’s the second spring without the Expos in Montreal. This means that my blue Expos jacket is the subject of many comments about it being a collector’s item and so on. The other day before an interview, when a non-Montrealer noticed my jacket, they told me they were wondering if the team was missed in Montreal.
The answer I give is that they aren’t. Baseball died here well before the Expos left, and I admit even I didn’t follow them as much as I should have during their final seasons. I didn’t even attend the final game, which is something I don’t feel too happy admitting.
But I was a baseball fan before I was a hockey fan, and seeing the Olympic Stadium and knowing there will be no more baseball there, and seeing the Washington Nationals causes me to do a slow boil inside. I went to dozens of baseball games before I ever set foot in either the Montreal Forum or the Bell Centre. In fact, the first hockey game I ever went to was at the Bell Centre, so I missed out on the “mecca of hockey” unless I want to see a movie. The Expos still have a place in my heart and I am still a Nationals fan. I now take the role of bitter fan whenever I see Jim Bowden. I do not think he is a very good general manager, and his trade of ‘the final Expo’ – Brad Wilkerson – was as much symbolic as it was stupid. But I digress. Bowden is trying to make the Nationals his own, and by doing that he is ripping the soul of the Expos right out of the Nationals.
There are still some people who believe that when this younger generation of Montrealers grows up, there may be a chance that baseball will return to Montreal. I don’t see that happening at all. Baseball died along with the Expos and despite the city’s rich baseball history (starting with the AAA Royals and Jackie Robinson in the first half of the 20th century), there is absolutely no chance that the team will draw fans unless the mindset of the city changes. I don’t see that happening as long as the Canadiens and Alouettes are successful.
I went to the Skydo. err Rogers Centre last year to see the Nationals take on the Blue Jays and it was surprising how many Expo fans were there. I still follow baseball, and last year I followed baseball almost religiously due to the lack of hockey with the NHL lockout. I am still a baseball fan, and although my favourite team moved from here to Washington, I keep up to date. I just lament the day when the real last Expo leaves the Nationals, or the last Expo retires and the only memories of them are in my head and on my jacket.
Gary Carter is currently the only player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown as an Expo, and he said before the decision was made that he didn’t want some of his grandchildren to see his plaque and ask him what an Expo is. But, sadly, there will be generations of Montrealers, Canadians and baseball fans around the world who will have never seen the first baseball team established outside of the United States. Though they are gone, I will never forget them and I know a lot of other people feel the same way.
Oh, so close!
My pick to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship, UCLA, made it to the final but forgot the game was on Monday and got trounced by the Florida Gators, who I also picked to be in the final four. I don’t mean to brag, but this year was the first time I was actually proud of my picks, and it figures that the first time in the last three years that I didn’t pick Florida to win it, they did, beating the team I picked to win.
Huet and the Habs
Can you smell it? The playoffs are fast approaching and the Canadiens are sitting pretty. They are seven points ahead of Atlanta who is in the ninth spot before their game Tuesday night against the Bruins and were seventh, just two points behind New Jersey and tied with Tampa Bay with a game in hand on both teams.
Cristobal Huet has a lot of people thinking V