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Head to head…

by Archives April 3, 2002

NO
By Noah Sidel
Haven’t we had enough?
Haven’t we suffered through enough seasons of dread and despair to continue fighting for the Expos?
Haven’t we been treated badly enough by Major League Baseball?
Haven’t we just had enough?
I have been watching baseball and following the Expos since I was knee-high to a fastball, and I’ve always loved the game.
Sure the ‘Spos aren’t exactly a dynasty, or even a very fun team to watch half the time, but I’ll always remember the early 90s when they were one of, if not the best team in baseball.
But after Brochu, Loria and Selig, I can’t take it anymore.
As much of an embarrassment as it will be for Montreal to lose a professional sports franchise, I think it’s time to give up.
The fact is that we are simply too good for MLB.
Pro baseball is one of the most poorly run sports organization in the western world.
It is so far behind the trend of revenue sharing and competitive spirit that the World Series has become the “Who Has the Most Money” Series.
Come on, in the past few years we’ve seen the New York Yankees win the title umpteen times, the Atlanta Braves narrowly lose the title umpteen times, and buy-a-championship teams like the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks win.
So what’s the point?
Montreal will never be able to buy a winner, and I don’t think Montrealers would even want that.
This is a city of champions – although it has been a few years since the last triumph: the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup in ’93.
Every one of those titles was won by a team built through draft choices and trades, and the occasional big free-agent signing.
None of them was a flash-in-the-pan team that bought a championship through ridiculous free-agent signings and the infamous rent-a-player-at-the-trading-deadline strategy.
We want to win fairly, and clearly the Expos cannot do this.
Every time the organization breeds a great talent like Larry Walker or Pedro Martinez, when it comes down to payday, they leave for greener pastures.
Vladimir Guerrero? As nice a guy as he seems to be, when his contract expires and the Yankees offer him $20 million to $30 million a year, do you think he’ll stay in a small market?
The truth is that if the Expos stay in Montreal, which is unlikely at best, they will be merely delaying the inevitable.
So enjoy them for their last season in Montreal.
Catch five or ten games, cheer for Guerrero et al., and come October when they pack up their equipment at the Big O for the last time, let’s just hope it’s a clean break.

YES
By Kevin Mio
It looks as though the Montreal Expos are all but dead at this point as they begin their 34th and, most likely, final season of play.
A team often referred to as “Nos Amours” is no longer feeling the love from its fans and that truly is a shame.
Yeah the team has never won the World Series, but they have given this city 34 years of entertaining baseball, even at the worst of times.
They suffered under brutal ownership from Claude Brochu and more recently Jeffrey Loria, who jumped ship this winter faster then you can say Youppi.
Despite all that, there were still over 30,000 fans at Tuesday’s home opener, showing that the love for the game is still there despite some pretty poor teams in recent years.
Whether or not the fans keep on coming out to the ballpark remains to be seen, but at the end of this season, if it truly is the last, the city will have lost part of its history.
Major League Baseball insists baseball cannot work in Montreal, that the city is a small market.
With a metropolitan population of close to 3 million people, bigger then some American cities with baseball teams, it is hardly a small market.
All levels of government have refused to help the team in any way shape or form, stating they had other priorities.
While that is understandable, from a business point of view, allowing the Expos to be eliminated is a bad decision.
Consider the tax revenue the team generates, from employee salaries to the tax on hot dogs, not to mention the tourist revenue when thousands upon thousands of fans from Boston and other cities come to Montreal to watch games (although usually only when their team is in town).
The money the team generates for the government is something that is often overlooked in this equation.
While investing money in the team would have been a bad move politically, the long-term benefits of a major league professional sports team in Montreal would have paid dividends.
MLB may think that the situation here is terminal, but Montreal baseball fans can make a huge statement to the big wigs that run the league.
It can go one of two ways:
Don’t go to the games and prove them right, or show up at the games in huge numbers and show MLB just what a huge mistake they are making.
Let’s hope Montrealers choose the second option and force MLB to take another look at the situation.
The team has meant so much to Montrealers for so many years, it’s time we show them how much we still care for “Nos Amours”.

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