Having essentially been swindled out of a MLB franchise thanks to ex-owner Jeffrey Loria over a decade ago, the announcement that there will once again be big league baseball being played in Montreal — if only for a couple of days — is a fantastic and long-overdue thing for the dormant fan base in the city, if not a little bittersweet.
Whether it’ll be a good of an event for the Toronto Blue Jays, on the other hand, is a little more … complicated.
That’s not to say that the team’s participation with the New York Mets in these exhibition games aren’t crucial and fitting, of course, but let’s just say that the timing is not without its curveballs. The major one comes from the MLB schedule makers:
— Paul Driscoll (@pdriscollTBT) September 8, 2013
Okay, so the Blue Jays will start on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida where they also happen to congregate for Spring Training — no problem. Oh, except for the two-day detour that they’ll have to make to Montreal right at the end of the practice season, before having to double back when the games start to count for real.
Immediately, a couple of things come to mind. With the extra travel being scheduled in a rather inopportune manner, is there a chance circumstances in Spring Training (players a little banged up, or unavailable due to workload, etc.) would lead the Blue Jays to hold back their regular starters for these exhibitions?
Doing so would essentially make these games “MLB” games in name only, and would not be giving Montreal and the fans attending the games there what they bargained for.
Because of the games’ sheer significance, it’s hard to imagine that either the Mets and the Blue Jays will have a difficult time getting their star players to make the trip north — unless certain players would have been unavailable for spring contests anyway, of course.
That brings us to the teams actual on-field performance. Not only do the Blue Jays already have their work cut out for them to start the 2014 season against a Rays team who has more or less owned them in the last few seasons, they have to try to reverse the trend with the extended travel to the from Montreal.
Will this have the potential to affect the team’s energy level and performance?
That’s not going to be a question that’s easily answered even if it was the end of Spring Training today, though I’d imagine it can’t make things easier.
Either way, while it’s certainly a good thing that the bigs are returning to the home of the Expos (and who knows, it might lead to something bigger down the line), the schedule makers have seemingly ensured that there will be prominent talking points for these games outside of you know … just baseball.