Tuesday, October 24, 2006

mon champs des rêves

Later tonight, the Detroit Tigers are taking on the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the World Series. Unless you're actually from St. Louis, I assume you're cheering for Detroit because, well, you should be: up until this year, Detroit was so bad for so long, it would be wrong for you to root for anyone but the Tigers, those lovable losers. But I'll have to admit watching the Tigers in the playoffs this fall is making me nostalgic for my all-time favourite, lovable loser of a ball team ... the Montreal Expos.


Florida Marlins pitcher Ismail Valdez delivers to the plate against the Montreal Expos' left fielder, Termel Sledge, in the first inning of the second last Expos game - ever - at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, on September 28, 2004. I can't take credit for this terrific photo; it was taken by my buddy Glenn. Note the sparse crowd which, in the end, was what would ultimately doom the hard-luck franchise's stay in Montreal.

Actually, the Expos weren't so much losers as they were poor. Years of apathetic ownership, bad television contracts and a widening fiscal imbalance between small and big market major league teams meant the Expos could no longer compete financially and keep its own players. And, man, over the years, there were some pretty good ball players. Like Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez ... league MVPs Vladimir Guerrero and Larry Walker ... perennial All-Stars Moises Alou and John Wetteland ... and Gold Glovers Marquis Grissom and Orlando Cabrera ... just to name a few.

Regrettably, as their favourite players kept leaving town, most fans in Montreal simply stopped caring and quit showing up for home games at Olympic Stadium. Finally, in 2004, the team packed it in and moved to DC, becoming the Washington Nationals. But right up until the end, I remained a die-hard Montreal Expos fan.

For the last few weeks, I've been trying to write some kind of meaningful post on baseball and Montreal but, so far, nothing has sounded right. Maybe there are just too many angles for me to condense into one coherent post. Angles such as ... Jackie Robinson's minor league stint for the Montreal Royals in 1946, a year before making history with the Brookyln Dodgers as the first black player in the major leagues; the important symbolism provided by the Expos for a coming-of-age Montreal during the late 1960's, and the place the team had in Quebec history; the 1994 Montreal Expos, by far the best team in major league baseball that year and the odds-on favourite to win the World Series, only to have its dream season wiped out by a players' strike and; personally, for me, the fact that the only French I can still understand are baseball terms, from years of growing up and watching the Expos on Radio-Canada, Canada's French, public television station.

Maybe on another night, I'll tackle some of these angles in more detail. But for now, I'm just left thinking about what might have been. It makes me a little bit sad that I'll never be able to see the Expos play in a World Series, but there are still a lot of good memories nonetheless. And, I suppose, tonight, that's something to be thankful for.

6 comments:

  1. I've only been to one baseball game in my life and it was a no hitter (Nolan Ryan, Texas Rangers, summer time in my 15th year, with my first boyfriend, who liked Smashing Pumpkins excessively, and later broke up with me at a car wash). No hitters are boring. Hitters aren't that great either, in my opinion.

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  2. You've revived my blogger gene!

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  3. Walker:Texas Ranger24 October, 2006 22:27

    Long_division, i LOVE the Smashing Pumpkins to this day! best band EVER. So much better than the crap that constantly pumps out today(shows like American idol or Canadian Idol don't help with the dilution of already thin talent as well. I don't agree with the carwish thing though, and oh, for the record, i also hate baseball.

    :)

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  4. Long Division ... YOU'RE BACK!!! starfish and waffles just hasn't been the same without you. So you're saying you've only been to one game, and it happened to be when Nolan Ryan was making history? And you were bored?? Well, I suppose baseball isn't for everyone and I guess that's the reason they sell so much beer at the games.

    Walker: Texas Ranger ... I'm sorry Mr. Norris but you just don't strike me as the type that would be a Pumpkins fan. I would've thunk that you would find Billy Corrigan a depressing and delusioned Gen-Xer, worthy only of being on the receiving end of one of your trademark, deadly, roundhouse kicks. Yee haw!

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  5. I have to say that I am one of the reasons they sell so much beer at baseball games. If I don't get to play, I might as well be allowed to pound a few...

    But, then again, I've never been to a game in my life... and having seen what live hockey could do for me, maybe I should give it a chance...

    And, long division, if someone broke up with me at a car wash, I'd find it an ideal opportunity to give them a nice scrubbing and wash...

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  6. Well, -c, I have to admit baseball isn't quite as fast-paced as hockey, so a few beers definitely don't hurt while you're at the ballpark ...

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