TOP TEN Myths Surrounding the Montreal Expos
10 - That the Expos lost its fan base after all the English left in the early 80’s.
The Olympic Stadium continued to average over 18 thousand visitors per game until 1997. While they were not leaders in attendance by any stretch, it was still a solid base that a strong committed ownership can have grown from.
9 – that the Atlanta Braves are on the verge of their 13th CONSECUTIVE division title.
While this claim may be technically true, it has about as much merit as McGuire’s or Bonds’ juiced up home run records.
8 – Small market teams like the Expos cannot compete.
Consistency. That is what having $$$ at your disposal every year will give you. Consistency. Assuming, of course, your team is not run by Monkeys (see: New York Rangers), a big budget will get you talked about as a contender every year. But every year, “Cinderella” or small-market teams make a run for it. Every year, one or more of the “David’s” take on and bet the “Goliaths”. Every few years, Montreal’s well-renown scouting and minor league development systems are able to churn out teams that are usually only a couple of pieces away from a playoff run.
7 – The people of Montreal no longer care about baseball.
No one, who has ever been to the Olympic stadium and heard 10 thousand people sound like 30 thousand strong can ever make that statement. Most of us continue to follow the exploits of Vladimir Guerrero or Orlando Cabrera on their new teams. Or the Canadians that are making the major leagues in ever increasing numbers. To go to the stadium and give our money to MLB would be like victims paying to keep their rapist in jail. It simply isn’t right.
6 – The city of Montreal should not be important to MLB.
This is the city where Jackie Robinson played before being called up into the major leagues. This is the city and team that Pete Rose played for when he collected his 4000th hit (there were over 48 thousand that day). This was the first expansion city outside of the United States. This is the team whose pitcher was the 11th in baseball history to record a perfect game. It can even be said that the success of the Expos paved the way for a 2nd Canadian franchise to be established. The Blue Jays went on to become the dominant franchise between 1989 and 1993. No matter what, Montreal will be remembered for its contribution to baseball.
5 – The Expos needed a new stadium downtown.
While there is no question that a stadium, in the heart of the downtown area, would have improved attendance, it is naďve to believe that it would have been anything more than a band-aid solution. The Expos needed a stable and committed ownership group, not a better stadium. If there is one thing about Montreal, their fan suffers no fools. Players would have to have been re-signed. Quality free agents would have to be brought in. Bottom line, the Expos would have needed to remain a contender to have survived. All one had to do was to read the papers, and check the first few weeks of attendance with Mr. Loria bought the Expos.
4 – Jeffery Loria killed the Expos.
By the team Loria purchased the Expos, the city almost held it’s breath with the promise of restoring tradition and longevity to a team that has for over a decade seen it’s best players being sold to what seemed like the lowest bidder. With no local ownership stepping up to become the majority partner, Montrealers knew that this Art Dealer from New York was their last chance. The real plan or plot was soon revealed as Loria turned out to be another pawn by Bud Selig in his plan. The media crucified Loria and he was made the scapegoat. We now have the benefit of history to guide us, and it has become painfully obvious that Loria was simply Selig’s patsy. Selig has wanted to get rid of the Expos opening since 2001, but most like has been working on this since Claude Brochu in the mid 90’s. He is a businessman, and if a franchise does not meeting targeted revenues, then what better way to line your pockets than the additional monies made for “expansion fees”.
3 – Blue Monday was the worst day in Expos History.
While Blue Monday is universally recognized as the dagger in the heart to Montreal’s best chance to get to the World Series (in a non-strike year), we believe that there was an undisclosed day that was worse than that. It was some day after 1990 when Claude Brochu and Bud Selig made a deal with one hand, and stabbed the Expos with the other.
2 – Attendance remains low due to indifference of Montrealers.
If there is one thing that Montrealers love to do, it is to go out and party. Any event is good. Jazz festival, Comedy festivals, Canadian Football League, hey, even a North American soccer league. As long as you have a liquor license, you have your self a good attendance. Knowing your franchise is leaving, or your owners are major league baseball, well, that is not exactly a party atmosphere. Even the film festival was getting good attendance until the rumors started of it being shut down in favor of Toronto. That won’t win you any fans either.
1 – That had the strike not cancelled the 94 season, things would somehow be any different.
People seemed to forget that Montreal already had a 1994 season back in 1981. The Expos will in the lead both times. The difference between 1994 and 1981 was 1 thing. Charles Bronfman. Mr. Bronfman kept his team intact and worked hard to keep Montreal in contention year after year. He only sold the team after having the foresight of the skyrocketing player salaries in his near future. Selig, through Brochu, would have sold off Montreal’s star players despite any success the team may, or may not have had during that season. Using recent history as our guide, we see that Selig’s new puppet Loria did the same thing with the Marlins. Montreal would have been no different. And the resulting backlash would have allowed him to move the team even earlier.
Gary Whittaker is the editor of T.E.N Magazine. You can visit this site by going to http://www.tenwebzine.com. There are a lot more pieces on sports, business and politics.