Sunday, September 8, 2013

Montreal Baseball Project

I've undoubtedly been very fortunate to have attended a game in so many ballparks, but up to this point I have two stadiums I majorly regret not going to: Tiger Stadium in Detroit, and Olympic Stadium in Montreal.  Yes, there are a countless number of former parks it would have been nice to have seen if I were older, but these are the two that were still being used during my lifetime that I had ample opportunity to see.  In the case of Tiger Stadium, it has long since been demolished, but Le Stade Olympique retains a shred of hope at hosting baseball once again.  Since the Expos left to become the Nationals in 2005, the Blue Jays have been in sporadic negotiations to bring preseason exhibition games to Montreal, and those talks have ramped up again for the 2014 season.  There are many hurdles to this, as the stadium is far from being up to MLB standards from hosting a game, and in fact was a pretty terrible facility even when the Expos were there - one of many reasons the team left.  But, the stadium still hosts events and soccer matches, so it's not outside of the realm of possibility that baseball could be played there once again, albeit temporarily.  I'm a very calculated person, but if there is one thing I would drop everything to do, it would be to go see a baseball game at Olympic Stadium.  I've just always wanted to go to Montreal and have been fascinated with all things Canadian and I think it would be an amazing experience.  Plus, the stadium boasts the world's tallest inclined tower as part of the structure - very much a part of mine and Erik's M.O., as if we needed more incentive to watch international ball.

Beyond the exhibition games, there has also been an underground movement to bring baseball back to French Canada in the form of the Montreal Baseball Project.  This organization is led by Warren Cromartie, a former popular Expos player who patrolled the outfield at Le Stade along with Andre Dawson in the 70s and 80s.  This non-profit organization's purpose is mainly informational and to get the city excited about baseball once again, but they also are conducting a feasibility study to see if professional baseball would work in Montreal.  MBP also has a website with a team store that I'm unsuccessfully trying to convince myself I don't need a t-shirt from.  Cromartie wrote an interesting piece on the website that talks about how towards the end of the Expos reign, the city really did nothing to save the team, but this time around, the opposite is true - a reincarnation of the Expos could save a city that is mired in corruption and lacks civic pride.  I know that there were a lot of bridges burned when Omar Minaya & Company were run out of town, and a new or renovated stadium would pretty much be a necessity to bring a team back, and these are certainly major obstacles.  But I personally feel that Montreal deserves another chance, and that fans would be passionate about the opportunity.  I will go out on a limb and say that Montreal (along with San Antonio and Las Vegas) will see a new major league franchise at some point in my lifetime, and Erik and I will certainly have a duty to get there as soon as possible.  Hopefully, at least twice - once to see Olympic Stadium, and once more to see its inevitable replacement.

UPDATE: Seriously, not even 24 hours after posting this story, it was announced that baseball will indeed be returning to the Big O next season for some Jays exhibition games!  I guess I have to put my money where my mouth is and start planning a trip now.

Brewers 61-80, -20.5, E# 1 (3 @ Cardinals, 3 v. Reds)
Reds 81-62, -1.5, -- WC (3 v. Cubs, 3 @ Brewers)
Twins 61-79, -20.0, E# 2 (1 v. Angels, 3 v. Athletics, 3 v. Rays)

Erik - 11 (+33 worked)

Peter - 42

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